I’m a Lake Tahoe based wedding and portrait photographer, and fan of unposed, giddy-in-love, melt-my-lenses-editorial-style moments … oh, and t-shirts and jeans. 

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Courtney Aaron

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18 years ago I slung a camera strap around my neck, and I’ve been capturing moments and memories that will be cherished for generations to come ever since. My goal? Put you at ease in front of the camera and document what matters and giving you something timeless in a fleeting world.

Hi, I'm Courtney


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Lake Tahoe Beach Family Portraits

Filed in: Family


There was so much heart and love in this session, I should just let the joy speak to you directly… but I’ll give some story because who doesn’t love a little story.

The Damiano Family was wrapping up their time in Tahoe and jumping at the chance to head abroad for a few months before they moved to the  PNW. Let’s just say these three little cuties hopped out of their minivan like a rock trio ready to go on stage.

We chose a spot that really embodies South Lake Tahoe – the meadows, the mountains and the lake and what follows is one of my favorites hours spent with a camera this year.



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Pictured above is the moment little man came sludging waist deep through a swamp that he quietly found his way into. Nicole gracefully laughed it off and he got a fully-clothed dunk in the lake. I was amazed – it was like nothing happened (except for soaked pants). No frustration that her son’s outfit was no longer fresh, that there was no change of clothes, and no scolding for him exploring and being his curious self at an inconvenient time. All she said, as she laughed it off was, “This is our life right now and these are the pictures I want to remember it by.” I took a major note off of this mom and dad. These are parents that embraced that the photo shoot was their kid’s shoot as well and they wanted them to have fun. If it meant messy, wet pants, then that’s how it was going to be and the images just got better and better because if it. They were not just having their portraits captured, they were creating memories simply because they all let go, were themselves and let raw and real life enter their hour of portraits, rather than pretend to be anything different.

When it came time for my own family portraits this year, you bet these guys were my spirit animals. I believe my portraits came out 10x better because I let go of what I could not control, I let my son be the kid that he was that day, and I trusted our photographer would get some great moments if I just showed up and chilled out.

To all the parents stressing over an upcoming portrait session, the portraits you want will happen for you even easier by letting go of the pressure. Everyone will look happy and loving and the token family shot will happen. But your kids being their pure, unadulterated selves at the age they are at right now is fleeting. Have fun with them, let them get messy. Shoot- this Mom and dad were covered in sand and wet spots from picking up kiddos and never even stressed it. Get messy yourselves and feel free to be a kid again. Trust me, the photographers like myself looooove it and the images that letting go creates….. odds are you will too!

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Nicole’s dad and girlfriend, Vicki, were in town visiting and they came along to enjoy more time with their family and hop in a few shots. She had explained that since the passing of her mother,  she hadn’t seen her dad this happy in years and that Vicki was such a blessing to his life.

A lot of people come to Tahoe and have that vacation-vibe high but it was apparent to me in seconds how giddy in love they were. My camera is a magnet to this kind of strong connection and my senses explode with joy. When I suggested we do a few portraits of just the two of them, they lit up with excitement.

We cannot control what our heart feels, we just feel it.

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By the end, we had birthday suits, sandy tushies and a sunset beautifully spent!



p.s. If you’re in the Tacoma, WA area and looking for custom (and delicious!) cookies, check Nicole’s company Squishie Baby Sweets.

If you enjoyed my Lake Tahoe and custom branded cookies this year, this is the talented gal who made them!

comments +

  1. Nicole says:

    Gah! The tears that came when I read this. Because on a daily basis, when all this is happening around us, I constantly question; are we too lenient, should we be doing more reading, more strict routines, why don’t they listen, why does bedtime take 2.5 hours some nights, why am I running out the door with three minutes to spare until the late bell…. But I remember back to this day, and so many like it where our family is happy. We are a happy group full of love for each other and everyone around us. So, we must be doing a good job.
    Thank you for our session and ending our Tahoe adventure on such an amazing note.
    PS. I can’t believe how much the kids have grown in 5 short months!!

    • Courtney Aaron says:

      Perfectly stated! One of the unspoken jobs of a parent is to question if we’re doing any of this right 🙂 The daily grind is real, isn’t it? But images like these surely make us stop in our tired tracks and smile that yes, you are doing it all right!

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