Apr 30

Mini-Photo-Session: Mother’s Day / “Mommy & Me”

Mini-Photo-Session: Mother’s Day / “Mommy & Me”

Maureen Sifuentes, Naqiya Designs is hosting a special “Mommy & Me” mini session.

This is a good time for moms to get  those timeless keepsakes with your children.
We tend to be the ones taking the pictures, but Moms NEED to get in front of the camera some times!
Your child(ren) will want to see pictures of you with them as they get older.
Don’t worry about your hair, your weight, your make-up, children don’t see all that, all they see is their pretty mommy that they love. So get in front of that camera!


What is a Mini Photo Session?

Mini Sessions in general are short and sweet. It is a wonderful way to capture a few great moments with children, pets, family, friends or that special someone.  It’s great for those of us who are busy and don’t have a lot of time for a full photo session. They also make for great gifts.

Mini Sessions are held at outdoor locations such as a parks or urban settings. They can be as quick  as 10 minute increments or as long as 30 minutes.  They are intended to capture a “cute phase”, so get a few new photos for Grandma’s birthday, or treat yourself to a much needed updated family portrait.

Mini Sessions are events focused on a particular theme, this one is: TIME WITH MOM


Mini Details – $50 (deep discount)
- 20 minute session up to 5 people.  Each additional person is $15.
- 5 digitally edited images presented in your own private online gallery.
- Option to purchase all digital images online for $100.
Mini Details – $100 (deep discount)
- 20 minute session up to 5 people.  Each additional person is $15.
- 10 digitally edited images total presented in your own private online gallery.
- 1 8×10 or 1 8×12 (can be upgraded) print included for pick up. Your choice of pose.
- Option to purchase all digital images online for $70.


WHEN: Sat. May 2nd, Sun. May 3rd (and if needed: Friday May 8th, Sat. May 9th pm times)

TIME: 4pm-6pm ( in 20 minute time slots listed below)

WHERE: Fremont. To reserve your mini-session, please email maureen@naqiyadesigns.com  Please include options for times if your first choice is taken.

Deposit of $15  to reserve your 20 minute session. First come, first serve.

Payments are made via Paypal (you don’t need a paypal account). I’ll send you an email.

The Fine Print

  • Balance is due the day of the shoot.   No minimum order. Up to five  people per session (sorry no animals allowed at this location. Exact location will be given upon emailing or booking.
  • Will reschedule due to rain (TBD)
  • No refunds due to cancellation (unless extreme emergency)
  • Spots are first come first serve
  • HEADS UP: Since Mini Sessions have such a limited time,  I will do my best  with babies that are not able to sit unassisted for solo pictures.  Mini-Sessions are not  recommended for those looking for multiple backgrounds or changing outfits.  We will have a beautiful backdrop of spring-nature around us however. You may want to schedule a personal newborn session if you are looking for that specifically, or you may book two mini-sessions to accommodate extra people with more poses. I will leave this up to your discretion, but I will try and get as many shots as possible during the 20 minutes. Please call for any questions and concerns, I am always happy to help.
  • Additional prints, canvases, albums and high-resolution digital negatives are available for purchase as add-ons at a discount.

PORT_2011_178 Portraits_230









Helpful Hints

Before the photo shoot!
1. Email Maureen at maureen@naqiyadesigns.com (Please list names and ages of everyone taking pictures)

2. Select  2 or 3 times that work for you (we will try and get your first choice)

3. I will send you an invoice via PayPal and upon paying,  you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of the photo service! This is also the contract.

4. Think about what you want to wear (I will email you a Tips and Essentials page) for a great reference.

When you arrive for the shoot!
1. Be on time. The only way mini sessions work is if all parties are on time… This is the only way these can be affordable for us all! If you happen to be late, we will use whatever remaining time left in your time slot.

2. HAVE FUN ! :-)

When is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is May 10 th this year – so mark your calendars, Dads!  :)  Pictures done on May 2nd and May 3rd will be ready before Mother’s Day. Pictures done on May 8th/9th will be finished the following week.

Have other questions?

Contact Maureen at Maureen@naqiyadesigns.com or 408-667-7752 for any questions!

Time slots available:

Evening: 4:00pm | 4:30pm | 5:00pm | 5:30pm | 6:00pm

NEW! Private mini sessions (With 4 or more scheduled sessions)

Have a mini session party! Get your friends together and book a session (on one day) to have you and your children (or just children photographed! The host will receive a complimentary mini session on that day. Have a request for a special spot around town?  Let me know and we will make time that works with our schedules.


Mar 05

“To Flash or Not to Flash… That is the Question”: Use Flash Outside in the Sun?

Flash Outside in the Sun

Though some may think I have a few screws loose popping my flash out in full sunny weather, there are good reasons to do so.  Flash lightens shadows and adds detail to darker areas, while preserving highlights. This is technique is called “Fill Flash”.

Flash: Sun and ShadowsTwo shots were taken “back to back”.  In the first picture you can see the result of the the most common “look” of using a camera without using its flash. The details of the face are too hidden in the shadows. Using a light fill-in flash brings out the features of the faces.  The only time I do not use the flash is with direct sunlight where there are no shadows covering the facial area.

The flash I use is not an on-camera flash, but a separate flash that I hold off-camera/ off to the side. This allows me to move that light source in many positions to altar the direction I want the light to shine on people.  When possible, I will bounce that beam of light from my flash off of ceilings, walls, backs of people if necessary. :-) . I will do a separate post on that later.

There are cameras that will allow you to have more control over your flash.  Check the manual to find out how to

force the flash to fire while in automatic mode.

flash Sun shadows-2

Not only did the flash fill in the Bride, but also those behind the groomsman holding the “Click-n-Flip”.

flash Sun shadows-3


Some cameras have a symbol that tells you  you have the ‘fill flash’ option.  In this case, you should get more power output from it.  There are other cameras that let you personally control the flash “output” in increments…that is your best option….as is shooting in manual mode if you are feeling especially daring.
But, there are times where I let the shadows do their job. Especially in the evenings with the setting sun dancing across moments in time…..

flash Sun shadows-4

Mar 15

Fantastic Friday: “Plugged In”

Fantastic Friday:  “Plugged In” – Movie, Video, Music, TV, and Games Review site.

plugged-inHave you ever been embarrassed to watch what you thought was going to be a clean and wholesome movie only to find a sudden less-than-ideal surprise? Perhaps you are okay with movies that have some cursing, but  walk out on any movie using God’s name in vain? How about a sudden unexpected sexual scene while handing toddler Jonny the popcorn? I’ve been surprised attacked before on a movie while watching with my kids. You can only jump over their eyes with  your hands only so fast.  What to do? Well….

I learned about this site a while back from my friend Kelly. She taught children and did a lot of Children Ministries type of stuff. One rescource she gave me was this site: www.pluggedin.com .

Their website is clean and easy to navigate, which having a Graphic User Interface background, I love the site design. 

When choosing the “Movies” (same with “Video”) catagory, you will see options to view in depth review of what is “New in Theaters” as well as a list on the right side, “Also in Theaters”.  Once clicked,  you are given the general synopsis, “Positive Elements”, “Spiritual Content”, “Sexual Content”, “Violent Content”, “Crude and Profane Language”, “Drug and Alcohol Content”, “Other Negative Elements”, and a final “Conclusion” to wrap it all up.

Perusing in the “TV” catagory, you will see lists of shows to choose from. Once clicked, you will see a short write-up that tells of any sensitive content on language in the show. What I like is the easily nav table on the right side whereby you choose the show via 2 drop down menus: “Channel” and “Genre”.

Before I conclude, I must say I’ve enjoyed perusing the “Family Room” located on the very top of the pages.  They also have an “En Espanol” link for easy ready for those most comfortable viewing in the Spanish language. 

So the next time you are thinking of finding a movie to sit and chill with the kiddos on a Friday night, consider checking out Plugged In so you can see if that is a right “fit” for you and your kids viewing style. :-)


Mar 08

Fantastic Friday : Jewelry-UP!

“Fantastic Friday! ” :  Jewelry-UP! Customized Jewelry

Naqiya Designs| Teen Challenge | Jewelry

This is no ordinary site. In fact, ALL of the proceeds go to a very very special place right here in our own backyard.

I also must say that I really do love the pure creative talent of these pieces.  No joke….they are beautiful and I’d be surprised if you don’t find something you like here.  They update their goodies online almost continuously too, so check back often. 

Again, all proceeds directly benefit a program that has the highest percent rate of all programs in the entire USA. Teen Challenge, a Residential Drug and Alcohol Program enables individuals and families, to break free from addictions and repair broken relationships.  See Teen Challenge for more information on the variety of different homes and programs available for men, women, children, teens, and families.

If anyone would like me to post some intense before and after photos, or video-testimonies of people in the program, please comment below. 

Okay…now for some links and examples of the good stuff….

 Naqiya Designs: Fantastic Fridays: Teen Challenge

 The store is located on Etsy | Teen Challenge Jewelry Store.

Naqiya Designs | Teen Challenge | Jewelry | Rehab Center San Jose


They have a great Thrift store too! I went in when they first opened and found some really neat stuff. :-)

Teen Challenge Thrift Store











South Bay Thrift Store

1897 W. San Carlos Street
San Jose, CA 95128
Phone: (408) 703-2001
Email: southbaythriftstore@teenchallenge.net

10:30am – 7:00pm (M-F)
10:00am – 6:30pm (Sat)
Closed on Sundays

They accept donations Monday – Saturday during normal business hours.

 Naqiya Designs: Fantastic Fridays: Teen Challenge

Mar 29

Real Weddings Survey Results by The Knot


4TH Annual Survey of Nearly 19,000 Recent U.S. Brides Reveals Most Expensive Cities for Weddings and In-Depth Insight Into Wedding Budget and Wedding Trends

“Brides remain committed to planning a luxurious, memorable event and are willing to spend despite the state of the economy,” said Carley Roney, editor in chief of The Knot Inc.

“In fact, approximately 1 in 5 brides are spending more than $30,000 on their wedding, and 12% of brides are spending more than $40,000.”

Key Average Wedding Statistics

  • Wedding Spend (excluding honeymoon): $26,984
  • Most Expensive Area to Get Married (excluding honeymoon): NYC (Manhattan), $70,030
  • Least Expensive Area to Get Married (excluding honeymoon): Utah, $13,214
  • Wedding Dress Spend: $1,099
  • Percentage of Destination Weddings: 24%
  • Bride’s Age: 29
  • Groom’s Age: 31
  • Number of Guests: 141
  • Average Wedding Spend (on a per guest basis): $194
  • Number of Bridesmaids: 4
  • Number of Groomsmen: 4
  • Length of Engagement: 14 months
  • Most Popular Engagement Month: December (16%)
  • Most Popular Wedding Month: June (15%)
  • Most Popular Wedding Color: White/Ivory (43%)
2010 Average Wedding Budget Breakdown
Category   2010 National Average Spend
Overall Wedding (excluding honeymoon)   $26,984
Ceremony Site   $1,393
Reception Venue   $12,124
Reception Band   $3,081
Reception DJ   $900
Photographer   $2,320
Videographer   $1,463
Wedding Gown   $1,099
Florist/Décor   $1,988
Invitations   $351
Wedding Cake   $540
Ceremony Musicians   $503
Catering (cost per head)   $61
Wedding Day Transportation   $667
Favors   $222
Rehearsal Dinner   $1,127
Engagement Ring   $5,392
Figures based on respondents who hired a professional vendor for the service.  

Top 20 Most Expensive Wedding Areas

1.   NYC (Manhattan): $70,730
2.   NY (Long Island, Hudson Valley and NYC Outer Boroughs): $51,811, $45,695, $44,718
3.   Northern/Central NJ and Southern NJ: $49,347, $36,694
4.   Rhode Island: $41,169
5.   Philadelphia, PA: $36,294
6.   Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA, and Los Angeles, CA: $36,233, $33,745
7.   Boston, MA: $35,458
8.   Chicago, IL: $35,389
9.   Connecticut: $35,197
10.   Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas): $33,810
11.   Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland: $33,727
12.   Orange County/Inland Empire, CA, and San Diego, CA: $31,954, $30,687
13.   San Francisco Bay Area, CA, and California/Nevada (Sacramento, Tahoe and Reno): $31,173, $26,567
14.   Baltimore, MD: $30,073
15.   Houston, TX: $29,129
16.   Pittsburgh, PA: $28,408
17.   Dallas, TX: $27,823
18.   Vermont: $27,333
19.   Hawaii: $26,722
20.   Austin/San Antonio, TX: $26,329


Interesting Regional Differences

TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com 2010 Real Weddings Survey can be broken down on a region-by-region basis across more than 80 markets. Regional highlights include:

  • Budget: New York City (Manhattan) has the highest average wedding budget ($70,730), and Utah has the lowest average wedding budget ($13,214), excluding honeymoon only.
  • Age: New York City (Manhattan and Outer Boroughs) has the oldest brides (32 years), whereas West Texas has the youngest brides (24 years), on average.
  • Engagements: Northeast brides have the longest engagements (15.5 months), while brides from Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi have the shortest (12 months), on average.
  • Wedding Size: On average, Nebraska and Iowa brides still have the largest number of wedding guests (213 and 200, respectively), and Hawaii and Nevada still have the smallest number of wedding guests (82 and 59, respectively).
  • Wedding Style: Hawaii has the most casual weddings, while Northern/Central New Jersey has the most formal (black-tie) weddings.
  • Economy’s Effect: Brides in New Mexico, and California and Nevada (Sacramento, Tahoe and Reno) were the most affected by the economy, while brides in Alaska and Nebraska were the least affected.
  • Registry: Brides in Toledo, Ohio, Kansas and Minnesota are the most likely to register for wedding gifts (96%).

Top 10 2010 National Highlights

TOP SPENDERS. New York City Tri-State Area, New Jersey and Rhode Island Brides Are Top Wedding Spenders, Spending More Than $40,000 on Their Wedding. Nationwide, 12% of brides spend more than $40,000 on their wedding event, and approximately 1 in 5 brides spend more than $30,000 on their wedding event, not including the engagement ring or honeymoon.

ECONOMY. Economy’s Decreasing Impact. Less than a third (31%) of brides said the economy affected their wedding budget – a decrease from 34% in 2009. However, when it does come to lowering the wedding budget, one successful cost-cutting tactic used by brides is to trim the number of wedding guests – 141 was the average in 2010, compared with 149 in 2009. Despite the decrease in wedding guests, wedding standards weren’t affected, as the average wedding spend per guest remained the same as it was in 2009 – $194.

BRIDE & GROOM SNAPSHOT. Couples Are Older and Cohabitating. Not only are couples older at the time of their wedding compared with previous years (29 for brides and 31 for grooms in 2010 versus 28 for brides and 30 for grooms in 2009 and 2008), but more of them are living together prior to marriage – nearly three-quarters (74%) compared with 70% in 2009 and 2008.

LOCATION. More Destination Weddings. Destination weddings rose the past two years, with an increase of 20% since 2008. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 couples considered their wedding a destination wedding in 2010. This, in turn, affected the percentage of guests needing overnight accommodations – 42% compared with 36% in 2008.

CEREMONY. More Ceremonies Outdoors; Less in Houses of Worship. Religious institutions, such as churches, synagogues and mosques, dropped off by 10% as more couples opted to hold their wedding ceremonies outdoors. In 2010, 43% of ceremonies were held outdoors, compared with 39% in 2009 – an increase of 10%.

COLOR: Purple’s Popularity. Purple is the new “it” color, with 1 out of 5 brides (21%) choosing it for their wedding – a 50% increase since 2008. What’s losing popularity with brides, though? Brown, which decreased by 16% since last year.

ENTERTAINMENT. Guest Entertainment on the Rise. Having guests merely attend a wedding isn’t enough anymore. Custom guest entertainment, such as photo booths and comedians, is on the rise, with 15% of brides incorporating additional guest entertainment into their wedding (up from 11% in 2009). In addition, 13% of brides have interactive food stations, such as a sommelier with wine tastings, a sushi chef or a cheesemonger.

ONLINE RESOURCES. Online Wedding Planning and Execution Continues to Increase. From using social media to communicate wedding details (a 78% increase since 2008) and creating/sending save-the-dates or invitations online (a 40% increase since 2008) to using an online RSVP service (a 31% increase since 2008) or setting up personal wedding websites (a 23% increase since 2008), brides are increasingly using online wedding planning tools to prepare for the big day.

PLANNING. How much and how stressful. As the wedding approaches, brides spend more time wedding planning. In the last three months leading up to their wedding, brides spend an average of 11 hours a week planning. Nearly 50% also found that planning their wedding was more stressful than they expected. Nearly 1 in 3 hire or use an event/wedding planner, with more than half of those brides hiring them for day-of coordination (52%).

DESSERTS REIGN. Not just wedding cakes. A majority of brides (68%) have a traditional tiered wedding cake; however, other desserts like a groom’s cake (20%), candy (14%) and cupcakes (13%) are also served.

About TheKnot.com & WeddingChannel.com 2010 Real Weddings Study

The 2010 Real Weddings Study captured responses from nearly 19,000 U.S. brides married between January 1 and December 31, 2010; respondents were recruited throughout the year from TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com membership, which represents nearly 80% of brides nationwide. Brides received survey invitations shortly after their wedding date and were asked a comprehensive series of questions about the event and their planning process. All qualified respondents:

  • Were 18 or older
  • Had a wedding in 2010

Survey respondents represent a variety of ethnic, education and income levels, and are geographically dispersed across the country. The survey and data management partner for the study was Decipher, Inc. Additional data highlights are also available at TheKnotInc.com/tkmi, while complete custom analyses and reports are available for purchase by contacting insights@theknot.com.

Mar 23

Why Is Professional Wedding Photography So Expensive?

Corinthian San Jose Catholic WeddingWhy Is Professional Wedding Photography So Expensive?
Many people ask why wedding photography is so expensive? The most common misconception is that it’s just a days work. There is a lot more that goes into it than most people realize. I’m going to try to break it down and explain why wedding photographers charge as much as they do.

Equipment Cost:
The cost of professional cameras, lenses, flashes, computers, software, media cards, etc. is very high.  Photographers are constantly repairing and upgrading their equipment and computers.  Image editing software is expensive and has to be upgraded when new versions become available.

Many photographers have formal photography training and photography degrees.  Some spend years assisting other photographers and learning from them before working on their own.  They may spend years developing and mastering their craft.  Many belong to photo associations that have yearly dues.  Seminars, classes, and conferences are available to keep-up with the latest and greatest styles and techniques in the industry.

Commitment to the client:
When a wedding photographer books with the client, there is a lot of planning and preparing for the wedding day. They don’t just show up and hope for the best.

Most times, if the ceremony and reception site can be viewed beforehand (and if it’s local), the photographer will visit the location(s).  This helps to plan where they could do the family formals, and couples portraits. They will decide what lenses and lighting they will need, as well as any other preparations needed to create the best images possible. Time is spent communicating with other vendors and coordinators as well.

The photographer will meet with the client(s) several times before the wedding day to discuss details and planning. They will take the time to answer questions and discuss any concerns.  Much time is allocated to phone calls, emails, texting, etc. to maintain good communication and expectations.

On the wedding day the photographer may have to travel to multiple locations if the Bridal Prep/Getting-Ready, Ceremony and Reception are in different places.  Great wedding photographers are “on-their-toes” anticipating constantly. We have to know and be “in-tune” to the right “timing” of those many fleeting moments and expressions.

Post Production:
Back-up of your images are crucial.  An experienced photographer will back up all the files into at least two different locations.  This may take several hours  and requires costly hard drives and/or services that provide remote backup.

Editing can take two to four hours, depending on the wedding.  After editing is digital post production. This includes digital processing, color correcting each and every image and any retouching if necessary.  Quality post production takes a minimum of 5 hours for the smallest wedding, up to 40 + hours!

Album designs take an additional 5-10 hours and are designed custom for each client.

There is time involved if client chooses  hand delivery of product(s).

Cost of Running a Business:
There are standard costs to successfully run a business.  General Overhead-storage space, electricity, etc.

Websites have to be designed and constantly updated.  Listing  services in online directories and advertising, marketing materials, taxes (that is a big one), accounting costs, and computer repairs.

Based on an article by Sara Valenti
Adapted by Maureen Sifuentes

Feb 24

Should I Have a Friend or Relative do my Wedding Photography?

With newer model cameras on the current market, more people are entering photography as a hobby. Everyone seems to have a friend or family member who is “into” photography. It can therefore be very tempting to have such a friend be the official wedding photographer at your event. This may be a very tempting proposition to save money on your wedding.  Some points to consider:

Is this their first full wedding? No re-dos!

Wedding moments, candids, kisses, expressions, first bites of cake are some of the many important shots cherished by couples.  They typically can be captured by good timing within 1/40th -  1/80th a second time frame at best.  It can only take a pro who can “feel and know” when to get ready, compose and trigger the shutter button at the exact moment(s).

If you are not happy…then what? Will your friendship survive or be strained?

Quality of Equipment: Not all expensive cameras are created equal.

The single most noticeable thing I have found on the field are the hobbyist with cameras that do well in fair light, but suffer greatly in most typical darker settings. Does their cameras take adequate pictures in low light without being too dark or fuzzy or orange?

Do they know how to shoot in Manual? Some pros do not shoot in Manual, but most do. Full manual has the advantage of completely controlling the outcome of your images. Otherwise the camera is left to do the guess-work.

Professional have specialty lenses costing over $1,000 each, high-end powerful flashes (several) at about $400+ each, and cameras that take non-grainy images (over 2000 ISO) for dark reception halls and churches.

Do they have backup lenses, cameras and flashes? It is not uncommon to have some equipment failure happen.

What happens if their camera “freezes”, won’t turn on, etc. It happens. I was attending a friend’s wedding (as a guest only), and I brought one of my Non-field  cameras. I took about 15 shots or so while sitting in the pew. Suddenly it stopped working.

While shooting a wedding, one of my flashes clunked out. As an FYI, I have now 2 main flashes and 4 other flashes I also use. Breakdowns happen. It is Murphy’s Law in full swing. It is entirely possible that your friend/ relative may have the same thing happen.

I will say that a  typical photographer will take anywhere from 500-1200+ photos in a wedding, Especially when taking that many photos, equipment malfunction even with newer equipment can happen. With no back-up lenses, flashes, cameras, you leave your memories in a gambling situation.

Will they be able to adequately cover the Formals and get full and fair coverage?

They may end up talking to their friends and family…and easily miss something. It is easy to do…they know people there. :-)

Also, if they are related to the Bride, the Groom or groomsmen may not get photographed properly or at all. If the friend or relative know the Groom, they may take pictures of their friends and maybe not enough of your family and friends, parents, etc.

90% of the horror stories I hear about other Brides’ friends (or friend of friend, etc), can be traced back to that “photographer” having little or no real experience. Typically that will come from a friend/relative, or someone wanting to “get-into” the wedding business.

You owe it to yourself to have fabulous wedding pictures. It is a very special moment in your life and definitely one of the more expensive events you will have in your life. Why would you want to take such a chance on the only thing you will have to take away from that day – the pictures / memories on paper /disk / film not only for your enjoyment, but as a gift/heirloom for your children and grandchildren, etc.

Too many Brides have cried over lousy dark and fuzzy pictures (or not taken/missed).

Unless you have no choice to go this route, it may be worth the investment to hire a proven exclusive professional wedding photographer. Look at their full weddings…not just a highlighted few good pics from a few weddings. Do they have a constant high level of consistency? This is extremely important. Anyone can get a few lucky shots here and there.

Just like any other thing in life…you get what you pay for. Photography, like any other real profession, takes skill, equipment and a good personality, etc. and that is priceless when you consider that both in the short term as well as the long term. There are no “do-overs” in this area. Get it done right the first time and you won’t be THATBride who is left disappointed at the end.

by Maureen Sifuentes 2011