Jessica Risinger's Blog bio picture
  • My Photography Style

    Natural, relaxed, and sprinkled with character...all about who you are on the inside (where it really matters.)
  • Why Lifestyle Photography?

    I love, love, love snapping photos that tell a STORY. In the same manner, I love antiques because they have a hiSTORY to them--a family that once enjoyed them and left a mark on them. Through my photography, I hope to show the marks you are leaving on your family. Marks of love and the joys of real life.

Adventures in San Francisco

Some people like to relax on vacation.  And then there are people like me.  Don’t get me wrong, if relaxing means reclined on the beach watching the waves come in, or sitting in a coffee shop sipping on a local signature drink, I can do that.  I could probably even do it all day.  But when there are sights to be seen, I’ve got my backpack on and I’m ready to move.  We walked 50 miles during our week in San Francisco, and no telling how many elevation changes.  If we tracked our movement on a map, I’m sure it would look like a toddler took a pen to it and scribbled to his heart’s content.  So if you ever want suggestions on what to do in this golden city, or which Muni Transit to take, let me know because I will definitely have an opinion on it!


We started out in Golden Gate Park taking a tour of the Japanese Tea Garden and the sights on the grounds of the neighboring de Young Museum.


Still in Golden Gate Park, Adam humored me with some Dutch Windmill photos before we made our way out to the beach.

When we stepped foot on this beach it started to look familiar to me.  I remembered that white building off in the distance.  Turns out, 20 years ago I stood on that very beach taking photos with my family before eating inside the restaurant.  So of course we had to make a sunset dinner reservation there for ourselves.  (Sutro’s at the Cliff House).

The remains of Sutro Baths, a collection of fresh and salt water swimming pools built in the late 1800s.


And why not throw in a little U2 concert while we’re there.  Joshua Tree will never disappoint!


Think of San Francisco and you probably think of Alcatraz.  It seems like a touristy thing to do, but it is well worth it.  The contrast of life inside versus the beautiful surroundings outside had to have made the experience there all that much worse for the prisoners.  We packed a picnic and took the ferry over on a perfect day.


Because you can’t visit this city and not visit the “crookedest street in the world.”  Since we didn’t rent a car on this trip, we opted to add more steps to our step count by walking up (and down) this street, admiring the beautiful flowers and amazing views, and even humoring ourselves with a quick look into house prices on Lombard Street.  How about a duplex for $4million?  No thanks!


Each morning we started out in search of the best local coffee shops.  We found quite a few.  Lavender latte anyone?  I know there are a million more, but here are our suggestions:
Home–1222 Noriega St.
Streamline–3560 Taraval St.
Java Beach Cafe–1396 La Playa St.


I don’t travel without my double hammock anymore.  Here on the beach it serves us well as a beach blanket between reading and searching for sand dollars.  Have I mentioned I love the beach?!


Off to hike up Billy Goat Hill.  The views are amazing and the neighborhoods you pass through on the hike up there are inspiring.  We worked up an appetite and found a local authentic Salvadorian restaurant to practice our Spanish.


Onto the Mission.  The murals are vibrant and are scattered all over the neighborhood, but Balmy Alley boasts the biggest collection depicting images about human rights violations and political injustices.  It all started in the 80’s but has morphed over the years to portray current events.


Well, we did it again.  I got the crazy idea to rent a bike and ride it across another bridge.  (Read about the time we rented bikes in Seattle, here.) There’s nothing crazy about it really, except that they categorize it as an “easy” ride.  Riding through the fog over the Golden Gate Bridge was a dream come true.  Then relaxing in the picturesque bayside town of Sausalito is an absolute must.  It seemed like the day couldn’t get better, except it did when we made the short trek out to Muir Woods…


When I say you have to go to Muir Woods, I mean you HAVE to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I literally sat in the stillness of the trees and felt like I was watching God’s creation proclaiming His glory in front of my very eyes.  It was unbelievable.  Mesmerizing.  Peaceful.  Tranquil.  Spiritual.  How these enormous trees come from tiny pinecone shaped seeds, built to resist deterioration from bugs, water, fire–God’s creation, especially in trees, will always amaze me.


Sure, we like to see all the major landmarks when we travel, but we also like to get off the beaten path.  I stumbled upon an event that was about to fill our hearts with a little bit of home, except wrapped in a bigger package.  Or maybe a bunch of smaller packages.  Anyway, we have been the proud parents of two Corgis over the last 12 years, so you can only imagine what fun it was to come across 1. A GORGEOUS beach with sandy dunes and cliffs, and 2. A beach full of CORGIS…


After we got our fill of puppies, we hiked up the hill to take in the breathtaking views as we ate our picnic lunch on the hammock.

Fort Funston Beach. Perfect for hikers, beach bums, and dog lovers.


Since there is an endless amount of hikes throughout the city, and there were more points of interest we wanted to see, we took our favorite Muni to Bakers Beach and started our hike past the “Trail Closed” sign hugging the coastline, with the bridge getting closer and closer.  We learned all about the green rocks and how it signifies a fault line (and that geologists lick rocks to find out what they are made of.  What? But don’t  lick the green ones.)


Time to hike up to Coit Tower for another amazing view of the city.  The photos don’t even do it justice.  But imagine if you were tossing a bouncy ball to yourself and accidentally dropped it.  There is NO WAY you could ever catch it as it rolled down these hills!

We had to. I grew up in the 90s with Full House.

We found our way up 15 floors to a POPOS (Privately Owned Public Open Space) at 343 Sansome St. to sit back and enjoy the view for a bit before we hopped on our first cable car to head to the Ferry Building and along Fisherman’s Warf for more great food.

Dinner at Alioto’s with our CA family.

So many great sights, sounds, smells.  I haven’t even touched on some of the “hidden gems” that will always make me smile at the thought of them, or the indulgence in multiple Ghirradelli desserts, or our wonderful Airbnb host family, finding free tours around the city, watching the people of San Francisco care for each other, admiring the yoga studio in the airport, workout stations at the bus stops, and dogs everywhere including the coffee shops.  Ready for our next adventure!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain

Curious about other corners of the earth?  Check out my perspective of them…
Upstate NY, Margate, Ocean City, NJ
Canandaigua NY, Jersey Shore

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Baby Jenny {Memphis Photographer}

I certainly don’t remember meeting my older brother for the first time, but I do remember seeing old home movies of him singing “Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man” to me in my crib.  And at the age of seven, I absolutely remember what it was like to have a baby brother born into our home.  So when I got to see the smile on this little boy’s face at the sight of his new sister, it reminded me of what a blessing it is to have siblings.  See for yourself…

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Baby’s Arrival {Memphis Documentary Photography}

I haven’t been in this position in quite some time now. But I certainly remember when I was and what it was like.  So much goes into the preparation of this day.  The day you get to meet your child for the first time.  When something captures your heart like you never could have imagined.  As the days go on, this same person makes your heart ache, then makes it swell again.  It’s one of the bumpiest rollercoasters I have ever been on.  Just when you think you start to gain some understanding in how to raise them, that feeling of confidence is pulled out from under you leaving you stunned and on a new quest to figure it out again.  From what I gather, this is what the rest of my life will be like now that they exist.  And while I don’t enjoy the feeling of slowly creeping to the top of a hill just to plummet down and feel like my stomach is in my throat, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  There is so much to learn from these experiences.

“Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  Philippians 4:6-7


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The Heritage Interview

Growing up, I always loved hearing stories from my parents about what life was like for them.  Learning how they walked uphill both ways, in the snow getting to and from school.  (I don’t actually doubt this as it was Western PA.)  How my dad sprained his ankle playing basketball in his flimsy Converse high tops.  How my mom found herself on the homecoming court.  The names of their friends did, and still do make me chuckle.  There is just a magical quality to me of knowing where I come from.  I feel like I have a more complete picture when I get to “experience” someone’s life through their stories.  My brothers and I recently sat down and recorded an “interview” with our parents.  There were tears and there was laughter.  We had heard many of the stories before, but some were still new.  And they still amaze me when I hear them and I realize how those stories have molded them into the people they are today.  They are still some of the most committed and compassionate people I know.  And it all started when they were high school sweethearts.


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Rehearsal Dinner {Collierville Documentary Photographer}

It was called a Rehearsal Dinner, but there was no rehearsing going on.  There was however, a lot of fun going on.  Friends literally gathered from across the globe to celebrate with this couple all weekend long.  It says something when you can convince people to travel hours or even days to witness you marry your best friend.  This couple must have that “something.”  The air was full of the sounds of laughter and sponteneity as guests took the plunge into the lake.  It didn’t matter if they came prepared to get wet or not.  The mood was right.  It probably helped that their bellies were full of some good old Memphis BBQ, and I’m sure the Southern hospitality made them feel right at home.  It was the perfect prelude to the day ahead.

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