I’m SO excited to share this blog post with you guys!!   This year, instead of doing the typical “Christmas tree/hot cocoa” holiday shoot with my model team, I wanted to do something different ….. after all, “different” is kinda my thing.  If you know me, you know that I HATE to follow the crowd and I detest doing the same thing over and over.  That’s why I change things up from year to year with my model program as well … I get super bored doing the same ol’ thing.  It’s really the reason behind everything I do and why I get up in the morning – I thrive on the new and different.  Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]

I’ve always felt a deep connection with the the older customs that are more “Earth based” …. so Winter Solstice has always been my favorite day of the year.  There is so much to reflect on during this time …. and it always coincides with the time of year when I force myself to take a much needed self-induced reprieve from work … and of course, there’s all the festive holidays too.  I love this time of year!!

For those of you who don’t know why we have solstices, basically, they’re the reason we have seasons — it all has to do with how the Earth orbits around the sun and the fact that it does so on a 23 1/2 degree angle — this is why we have summer and winter; at the Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun.  It’s the longest night of the year and shortest day … when most of us in the Northern Hemisphere has the most darkness – which is why ancient customs surrounding the Winter Solstice focused on bringing LIGHT to this night.  Vox has a cool post on it if you wanna read more, and Mystic Mama explains some of the spiritual aspects of this day as well.

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]

After formulating a plan,  I rounded up my Level Two Model Team (at this level, one of their perks is being involved with fun and crazy shoots I come with at 2 am when I can’t sleep; any of them who had already completed their senior session were invited) — and they all wanted to be a part of this!  I just love when they’re so enthusiastic!

I wanted to shoot at the beach for a few reasons: so many of my sessions take place there & it’s a very “California” thing to do; it’s where air meets water meets sky and earth; I wanted to also have a fire – to bring light to the darkness for the solstice  (and, of course, to also end the night with s’mores lol).

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]


Of course, Jami was on board for hair and makeup — she and I shared a pinterest board so I could show her what my inspiration was for this. I wanted to keep it earthy and VERY gypsy …. with a hint of tribal and 100% female empowerment energy … I wanted to celebrate our feminine awesomeness — because hello, we ARE awesome.  Now more than ever, us chicks need to stick together and empower one another!

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]



I had the girls bring their own clothes (also shared a pinterest board with them for ideas), and I brought a ton of clothes and jewelry too … we collaborated and shared and they did SUCH a great job … it was such a fun day with them… wish it could have lasted longer!   We started before the sun went down and I was able to grab a few shots of each of them individually ….

ya gotta click on these to see the larger 🙂

Aren’t they beautiful????!!!!  They are all just as amazing inside too … incredibly sweet and kind.

The sun started going down SUPER FAST and it was getting chilly …. even for California 🙂  Yes, we are spoiled for our gorgeous weather – we know!  I brought all the materials to create a cool “set” for them by the fire – lights, blankets, sage, incense, mason jars … the idea was to create a circle of light for them to be in … symbolizing the unity and light that all women have and how we are all connected.

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]I lit these night shots with my ice lights, btw — as usual, they’re my go-to for lighting that is super easy and quick; I actually love the hand-held capability because I move around so darn much 🙂   If you are ever interested in finding out more about ice lights, reach out — would love to chat!  You can also use this link to find info and purchase:  Westcott Ice Light 2

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]One of the things I always say I’m going to do is shoot more video … and I NEVER do it … it’s so hard for me to switch back and forth, especially when I’m losing light and have so much going on.  BUT – I did manage to grab a little footage that I put together in a short little one minute video and I LOVE how this turned out 🙂

I brought out some sparklers for a slightly different take on the “bringing light to the darkness” theme … we had just a little light left on the horizon and I really dig how these turned out as well….. we did some as a group and also a few individuals…

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]


Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]


Luckily, nobody caught their hair on fire 😮

Then we gathered around the fire and I grabbed a few more shots of them before breaking out the s’mores and Caryn’s uke.

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]


I really want to thank these girls for helping to bring my vision to life – they really rocked it!!

Winter Solstice {Portraits by Renee Bowen http://www.reneebowen.com} [post_title]

My entire model team is pretty amazing; and I’m super excited to start shooting ALL of their BFF and Family sessions in the Spring!

It’s hard to believe that they will all be graduating in a few months …. it always goes by SO fast; especially now that their first semester of senior year is over ….. and in a couple of weeks, I will be meeting with Class of 2018!!!   Yep, model team signups are happening now …. so if you are interested in finding out more – you can click HERE to apply.

I’ll be reaching out personally to a lot of you who were recommended by members of my current team as well!   I’m pretty excited because my own twins are Class of 2018 🙂  (I have one 2017 and two 2018!)  Man, did that go by fast!

And Class of 2017 —

it’s really not too late to get on the calendar for some Spring sessions (Feb & March) — gives you plenty of time to get some announcements too!   Feel free to use this form to request info:

Almost forgot ….. I did a time lapse of our entire day — I think it came out pretty cool; especially seeing the sky change …. it’s about 900 photos (created it in lightroom)


Thanks for reading and please reach out with any questions/comments!!  I always love hearing from y’all 🙂 .


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