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Masters Grad Portraits: Style and Class in San Luis Obispo CA

Anu is a returning client of mine. I photographed her and her handsome fiance at Joshua Tree. You can see their engagement session HERE.

Anu has incredible style, and so much like several of my clients who are trendy and have a style direction of their own, I built the concept around the outfits and styles she chose.

In this case, Anu walked into our booking already really confident in what I’d deliver to her. She pretty much told me “do whatever you want, I totally trust you.” [Music to any photographer’s ears]. So I brainstormed a concept based on what I already knew about Anu.

Anu then sent me photos of the outfits she bought in which we narrowed it down to the three outfits she would wear at the session. A casual edgy outfit. A chic and stylish yellow romper that was to die for. A sophisticated and classy dress. These selections really reflecting her personality. The casual jean and white blouse: her down to earth side. The yellow romper: her sassy very stylish side. The beige modern dress: her class and sophistication. See how that all worked out. So now it was my job to pair these looks with the right atmosphere so that the message would come across in the space as well!

Here is the breakdown of the locations I chose for each outfit:

  1. The Kinney Hotel SLO with her jeans and white blouse aka down to earth vibe.
  2. A Palm Tree off the street with her yellow romper aka stylish and sassy vibe.
  3. A Parking Structure of some buildings in downtown SLO with her beige dress aka her sophisticated vibe.

The Kinney Hotel in San Luis Obispo, CA was location one. I actually stayed the night at this hotel. This was one of those curve ball moments where I changed directions day of and told Anu to meet me there. The front desk were really kind, since I was staying there, they allowed me to shoot in the lobby. The lobby was a perfect choice for Anu because it had a lot of elements that felt cool but also targeted the feeling of a grad student. I love the touches of decor that emphasized school because Anu is a teacher. It was absolutely perfect.

2. The Random Palm on a Hill off the side of the road in San Luis Obispo. I was driving around to find the perfect location for Anu and her outfits, when I ran into that palm. I literally felt like it was just standing there waiting for me. It was one of the biggest palms I’ve seen and it was just randomly up on a small hill off the side of the road. I knew instantly that I wanted to pair Anu’s yellow romper in this area to bring a more tropical vibe to the collection. We then moved into some cute little areas in downtown SLO. Oh! And peep that really weird moment where I picked up a dried palm leaf and held it up in front of my camera to get some really cool results.

2b. A Parking area in Downtown SLO. There was just this cute little nook and cranny with all the textures and richness in color that I love. Also right next to it, a creamy wall with a touch of detail in the parking lot. I chose to just highlight her grad portraits.

3. Another Random Downtown Spot in San Luis Obispo. If it’s not clear already-sometimes I just roll with spaces that are catching my eye if I can see a clear vision. With this final look I just wanted some simplicity and also some more sophisticated textures. Something about this simple off white wall and some of the aging of the building around it just felt perfect, especially since Anu was wearing such a simplistic modern dress. I definitely feel her educated and sophistication through these photos.

I hope you enjoyed this collection as much as I did creating it and visualizing it. Anu is such a special client to me and it was such a pleasure having her in front of my camera once again! Let me know what you think about this collection, my thought process prepping, things I randomly went with for her locations, what you liked best. All of that feedback is really fun to hear!

With all my heart and soul….Rubi Z

Here are a few behind the scenes captures that my assistant Liz Martinez captured. Enjoy this insight.