Claire Brighten Photography goes to school – Santa Cruz and San Jose preschool photographer


“Everyone is my teacher. Some I seek. Some I subconsciously attract. Often I learn simply by observing others. Some may be completely unaware that I’m learning from them, yet I bow deeply in gratitude.”Eric Allen


Life is funny, in that we often start in one place and end up in another — or visualize ourselves being somewhere other than we are. But I like those kinds of opportunities and surprises.


My desire in starting my own photography business was to photograph families. Posed, candid, whatever… if there was a family who liked my work and wanted to be in front of my lens, send them my way! So when my friend Sara asked me to take promotional photos for her new venture, Discovery Preschool and Family Center in Soquel, I was honored but also a little unsure that I would be able to deliver what she envisioned. It’s one thing to have a family trust that I can capture their heart and soul in a few photos and another to work in an enclosed space with walls and ceilings, utilizing my flash, taking images that will be used for business purposes and not necessarily hung on walls or tucked away in photo albums in families’ homes.




But that’s part of why I like these sort of challenges. I have to learn to trust that someone else sees quality and value in my work and believes that I can take photos that they will love. In this case, my friend trusted that my photos would be good promotional tools for her business. That’s a huge high-five to me. Beyond that, every opportunity I receive to take photos is a place of learning for me. I went into this preschool to photograph children and families in an educational setting, but I was getting a schooling, too.




The children were able to explore the main school room and play. My job was really to observe and photograph them utilizing the space. I see technical errors in some of these photos, or missed opportunities if I wasn’t able to get my settings right before a child ran off, but those are constants in my line of work. Children are wont to run and play, and that’s exactly what I love most about photographing children and families.



Discovery also has a family center, with classes and groups for families, including parenting support groups, classes like Tutus and Fairy Wings, and a Saturday kids camp.


The space is warm and inviting. bright and cheerful. Sara and her staff have done an amazing job designing the space and making it feel like a place many families can call home.


Ultimately, Discovery Preschool and Family Center is a home for learning. It is a community space where families can get to know one another, support each other, interact and have fun, with education at its backbone. For me, it has been a space to learn more about my craft, but I also plan to take my son to classes there, to grow together and always seek out new challenges, adventures and learning opportunities. I know this community of educators are paving the way for a thriving environment for hands-on learning.


4 thoughts on “Claire Brighten Photography goes to school – Santa Cruz and San Jose preschool photographer

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