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Birth Photography – Welcome Ethan De La Croix

Birth Photography. It is raw. It is real. It is emotional. It is beautiful. It is life arriving right in front of you. I felt at owe watching De La Croix family birthing their baby boy Ethan.

Yes, it is a family affair. Dad was helping his wife through all her waves of contractions, catching his own son and cutting his cord. 6 year old sister was hugging mommy’s tummy to help her with pain, jumping out of excitement on arrival of her brother and hugging everyone around of happiness.

And mother was breathing through every contraction which came closer and closer and eventually hit one on top of another. She birthed her son with no painkillers. Surrounded by family she welcomed baby boy she carried for so many months under her heart. Melissa cried from happiness of finally meeting Ethhan and knowing that the worst is over. In fact everyone was crying, including me. As I have just witnessed something so powerful, beautiful and inspiring.

Once again I can see that birthing your child at home is a real VIP experience of births. Comfort of your own home, everyone you love are around, no random people or check ups, freedom of movement, no interventions, no unnecessary medication, delayed cord clamping, and midwife or doula at your own disposal to help you at any moment.

Photographing birth made me feel so humble, as I have witnessed life at its grand arrival.

Jenya Zhivaleva Photography www.

Birthing mama Melissa De La Croix – check out her page to hear her own birth story.

Doula – Heidi van Zyl

George – South Africa – 2019

Garden Route Birth Photography


Alina and Sergey’s Wedding on a Surf Tour to South Africa.

Alina and Sergey came to South Africa all the way from Ukraine to join Unravel Surf Travel on a Surf Expedition to KwaZulu-Natal. And guess what, they decided to get married while on surf tour with us! How romantic is that?!

It was a very spontaneous decision, as with so many truly romantic decisions, and preparations for the event only started weeks before the date. What a task! Dreams from Ukraine became reality in South Africa and, from opposite sides of the planet, a special wedding was taking shape!

Even the most challenging projects are possible when you’re part of a dream team. And thanks to our incredible hosts, Ali and Richard, Umzumbe Surf House was transformed into a wedding venue overnight!

We surfed in the morning and in the afternoon we had a beautiful wedding ceremony, on the shores of the Indian Ocean! Alina and Sergey celebrated their union in the company of their closest friends, in a truly special location. Now that’s what I call a memorable wedding!

Photography: Jenya Zhivaleva. Your Foto Story
Place: Umzumbe, KwaZulu – Natal, South Africa.

Nicola and Tinus Wedding.

Nicola and Tinus exchanged wedding vows on the 7th of March, in front of family and friends, at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, just outside Klein Brak River. It was a real international wedding. Nicola’s family came all the way from Wales to meet Tinus’s South African family and celebrate this special day. Being a foreigner, I know how important it is to share these special moments with family members from home, far away.

I knew that every single moment captured on that day will mean the world to Nicola and Tinus. And to their entire family. No pressure at all! I was on a mission, to quote Nicola’s mother: «to preserve that day through the lens, into an image, so that their special day will always be remembered!» Thank you Nicola and Tinus for a gorgeous wedding!

Photos: Jenya Zhivaleva Photography
Your Foto Story

Ilze and Tal wedding in the forest of Knysna

On the 20th of December 2014 I  photographed an amazing, fairy-like wedding in the forest of Knysna. Ilze and Tal made a lifelong promise to each other at their self-made altar at Jubilee Creek, outside Knysna. The ceremony was very special, with lots of tears, smiles and blessings. At times it was challenging to stay focused. All I wanted to do is to watch these beautiful souls dancing with each other in their celebration and bathe in their love.

Ceremony was followed by fun reception at Totties, outside Knysna. Its impossible not to mention creative decorations and unique style of the wedding, created by bride Ilze. Thank you Ilze and Tal for a wonderful experience!

Dress: Besters Bridal

Make up: Bianca Professional makeup artist

Reception: Totties Farm Kitchen

Style and decoration: Ilze Stadler

Music: Disco and Sound

Photography: Jenya Zhivaleva. Your Foto Story

Wedding shoot in collaboration with Eon Coetzee from Eonmedia

Garden Route.  South Africa

Du Toit Family Photo Shoot

Meet Du Toit Family.

This happy bunch first appeared very shy in front of my camera. But few playful tasks for boys, couple of Russian words and some encouragement helped them to open up! I find it is always easier to photograph families with kids in a very playful way. We have been crossing rivers with crocodiles, jumping from one ship to another, climbing trees and just being silly. Parents love to play along and help transform common park into a real scene of action. Thank you for such fun photoshoot, so blessed!

Photos by Jenya Zhivaleva. Your Foto Story.

Mossel Bay.

Garden Route.

South Africa.

Ilze and Tal Engagement Shoot

These two love birds couldn’t stop laughing throughout the whole engagement shoot. Deeply in love, playful and beautiful – that is how I would describe this couple.

Before the shoot we scouted  some funky places in and out of Knysna. We started off by taking photographs in a cafe “Trobb” (Knysna) with a very cosy and creative set up and slowly moved to beautiful Buffels bay. I found out that both Ilze and Tal are fond of nature walks, hikes, swimming and surfing. therefore we were looking for spots that would represent their nature spirit. Buffels Bay river mouth, ocean rocks and foresty hills of Buffels Bay became our backdrop.

Ilze looked like a real fairy. Their genuine love was shining through.Thank you, guys, for an  amazing shoot. Enjoy the photographs of our photo adventure.
Photography: Jenya Zhivaleva. Your Foto Story.

Garden Route. South Africa

Salome and Stephan

It is always exciting to work with cute shy couples, and then, see them transform throughout the photo shoot. Meet Salome and Stephan. Both of them leave in Germany. Last month they came to South Africa on holiday to visit Salome’s parents. Oh yes, remember that moment when boyfriend meets her family for the first time! Exciting, but scary:)

With the help of photography I wanted to show them, how beautiful they are together, show them their love for each other. By the end of the shoot they opened up and helped me create memories!


Meet beautiful Nicola!
I truly enjoyed our photoshoot together. It is always exciting to work with gorgeous ladies, but it is even more exciting to work with somebody, who can change their look instantly.
Boy, this girl can transform her image: from an innocent angel looking girl to a proud lady with exquisite look.

Nicola is looking for more exciting photo projects in the Garden Route, please contact me for offers and ideas.

Enjoy the photo story of Nicola.

Photography: Jenya Zhivaleva

Model: Nicola Pepperall

Make -up and hair: Nicola Pepperall



Surrender to a higher power.

After all this time what other choice is there?

After all the ups were followed by downs, and all the downs followed by ups, and up and down and up and down, what other choice have we got left?

How much longer will we fool ourselves into thinking that we have real control, intellectual understanding or religious certainty in a universe vast beyond imagination?

Surrender. A higher power. Life. This moment.


I rebelled against Religion and Church (Dutch Reformed Christianity) from a very young age. The rigidity and the conservatism really put me off.

But I discovered that it wasn’t so much religion that put me off. It was the ignorance. Ignorance of basic human egoistic tendencies.

Everybody does it. But few people seem to notice.

Regardless of what we believe, we fight with one another about our beliefs. And through that fighting we create…

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The future belongs to Learners

If you are looking for answers!


What is now, has not always been so. Time brings change.

Change is inevitable.

And perhaps at no other time in the history (or pre-history) of mankind has the process of change been as pronounced as it is now. That process is accelerating. It’s not slowing down.

Our parents were born into a world where a phone was a big old thing, fixed to a wall with a round dial and a single function. And their parents were familiar with the device.

Today we have smart phones with touch screens that’ll do just about anything, including accessing the Internet, a vast web of information, so intricate and so versatile, our parents have a difficult time imagining what exactly it is.

In fact, no one can be absolutely certain what it is. Or where its limits are.

If indeed this vast network has any limits at all…

What limits?

Consider the…

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Maternity photograpahy: meet Rebecca

There is something very special and so beautiful about pregnant ladies! Meet Rebecca, my good friend! She is expecting to become mommy for the third time! My hat off!

We had so much fun during the photoshoot! From romantic to funky images!

I can’t wait to meet a beautiful girl who will be born anytime soon, may be as we speak!