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Grown Ups

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One Year Down the Road {Tacoma Anniversary Photography}

The best bonus of photographing their wedding last year (which was SO FUN!!) was the opportunity to get to know them better.  Naomi is my cousin’s daughter and just a gem. We hadn’t spent much time together before that, besides the big family gatherings with the whole crowd every once in a blue moon.  Doing their engagement photos and wedding day let me see how amazing she and Jono are and what a good fit they are for each other.  We’ve touched base a bit through facebook this year and  cheered when we heard Naomi had been accepted to medical school this fall. Whenever Ben and Jono have a chance to visit, they can hardly stop talking too so at my dad’s party in June, we asked them to see if they could pop down to Seattle for a visit this summer.  We quickly got a date on the calendar and they came last weekend. We enjoyed them so much.  They are so warm and engaging and quickly had the kids crawling all over them.  Tymen told me, “It’s like we get two moms and two dads now.”  That’s how fun  they are.  During the days, we went with the kids to Pike Street Market to ford our way through the crowds and eat at our favorite stops. We picnicked in Tacoma at Wright Park and Jono and Ben ran with the kids through the spray park while Naomi and I played around with her new camera.  At night we talked over coffee and snacks about first year of marriage stuff and we laughed.

On Sunday I made them run around with me for a few minutes to take some photos to celebrate one year.

Thanks for coming to spend this time with us!  Let’s do it again.

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More Than Beautiful...Quyen and Carl's Wedding Day

It was a golden day, a day that was covered in the lingering sweetness of God who loves to give good gifts to His children. There was all the wedding joy that comes with a beautiful bride, a grinning groom, cute flower girls dashing down the aisle, good food, lots of laughing, and some wonderful friends and family. However, there was a beauty in their wedding that went way deeper than that. It was so abundantly clear that there was also the joy of the Lord who brought together two people who truly fit and recognize each other to be the gift that God has intended for them. It was wonderfully fun for me to be a part of documenting such a special day. Last fall, before they even met, my friend, Quyen dropped me a note that encouraged me greatly and said she'd love to have me photograph her wedding...some day. I was encouraged and told her that even though I don't generally do weddings, I certainly would do hers....some day! A few months later and every thing had changed. She'd met someone wonderful and I was so very happy to be a part of their blessing.

Here is their TESTIMONY. It makes me happy to hear them and to see them walking in the blessing of waiting on the Lord for His plan.

I arrived at the Pagoda at Pt. Defiance in Tacoma to find wedding preparations well under way. These little gals were practicing taking pictures of each other while all the ladies were getting ready.

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Their ooohs made me laugh.

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Carl arrived, coffee in hand.

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While I waited for the bride and groom to be ready for their First Look, I took out Sophia and Savannah for a few flower girl shots. Aren't they darling!

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Oh my goodness, I could hardly take these next ones as I had tears running down my face too. At last!

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Wee Simone was a dolly, snuggling and sleeping the whole day away.

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The parents were given leis in honor of their roles.

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Quyen's sister gave the most loving and warm speech that had us smiling and wiping the tear. But at the end, she added a line that had everyone howling. Oh my goodness. She nailed it.

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Just look at those faces!

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A bouquet and a loving speech for a faithful mom.

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They honored Quyen's father who passed away with a dance with some of the men who have cared for her. It was very special.

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The in-laws were fast friends.

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Quyen and Carl, the blessing of the Lord is so evident in your lives and we that know you feel the overflow....and we're all so, so happy for you!

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At Last, My Love Has Come Along {Tacoma Couple Photography}

I met Quyen years ago when we attended church together. She was warm and kind and funny, the kind of person you could meet and immediately want to have be your friend. She has a way about her of making people feel valued. After we'd gone to church together for a couple years, she moved to Hawaii to teach and be a part of a neat church community there. She's been serving in various capacities, taking opportunities to care for people and be in relationship. We've all been waiting and hoping for her to meet that special someone. A few months ago, when I saw some facebook pictures go up on her page where she was tagged with this grinning guy named Carl, I gasped and said to Ben, "Ahhhhh, I think Quyen's met someone special." They knew it right away too and it didn't take very long before we saw pictures of a ring on her finger.

When I got an email from Quyen telling me they were coming to Tacoma to be married and would I possibly consider doing their wedding pictures, it took me two seconds to make an exception as a family photographer to do some wedding photography for her. YESSSSSSS!

We met up a week before the wedding and I was so blessed by the way that they truly fit together. He is crazy in love with her and seeing the settled sweetness in her was amazing. When God puts people together, it is well worth the wait. I hope you can see the connection, respect and deep love they have for each other in these pictures. Though Quyen has always been so pretty, seeing her so loved and loving Carl in return has added another layer of beautiful to her.

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Carl and Quyen, thank you for letting me document your miracle. Can't wait to share your wedding photos...soon!

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Jami Erickson Photography in Front of My Lens

Last year at our school carnival I was asked to help photograph at the photo booth, along with several other photog moms. It was all organized by Jami, who stayed to help me organize people and costumes during my shift as the traffic was increasing. In between throwing boas around necks, assuring boys that the cowboy hats looked cool, and handing off smiles and moustaches on sticks, we had a few moments to chat. I found out that Jami is a photographer too. I have been following her work for the last year and love to see the personality that she brings out in people. Here's a link to her site and her facebook page :) We bumped into each other at the school auction a few months ago and decided to get together for coffee. This soon morphed into a bit of a "playdate" when we added taking some headshots of each other on top of coffee. Though we were both admittedly much more comfortable behind the camera, we ended up having a lot of fun together as we took turns photographing and then being the one in front of the lens. It's good to practice what we tell others to do!

I'm a big believer in having good images to represent you on websites and facebook pages. Beyond that, I think it's really important for all us to have some good shots of ourselves. Check here for some more information, if you are interested.

Portraits, in my opinion, should really capture some heart and personality too. I hope you can see Jami's warmth, beauty and kindness. She's a gem.

We started off with some fun camera shots and then did a few of just her.

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I'm so pleased to have this new photographer friend to swap ideas, encouragement, and information with. Beyond that, to have another mom who also values people and her family as I do is such a blessing! Thanks, Jami, for a super fun afternoon.

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Love You More {Auburn Couple Photography}

Korinna is a person who is full of love. Her precious girls are evidence of this. She extends herself to a lot of people, including many who possibly are not very noticed by others. To our family, she has lavished us with gifts, encouragement, warmth and kindness. And she gives me chocolate :). It is a blessing to see her in love and we wish her and her fiancee, Rick, the very best as they marry and also join two families together.

Rick was awesome. He said it had been years since his last professional pictures (prom, perhaps?) Once he realized these engagement pictures were low key and he just got to hug and kiss and laugh with his pretty girl (and get a few instructions from me), he was on it. They are very happy. After knowing each other their whole lives (they were guessing they first met when they were five or six), they are pretty happy together to say the least.

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After slogging through some soggy months here in Washington, a sunny afternoon was just perfect. I had a lot of fun playing around in the different lights and caught some lens flare.

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"Love you more" is a great goal for your marriage...all of God's richest blessings to you!

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Special on Headshots

I can't even tell you how very important I feel that headshots are for branding and an online identity. When people are reading up on a business or organization, they want to connect with a real person, not a faceless organization.  A good headshot should be an authentic representation of who someone is and help to connect a name to a face. Besides that, I think that everyone should have a good image of just themselves that is more recent than your senior year in high school ;). I know, I know. It's not always the most comfortable thing to be in front of the camera by yourself but it's important....for your business, for your organization, for the ones you love...for yourself. It can be as formal or informal as you want and then it will be my job to make you comfortable, to put you in good lighting and to get a clean, strong image of who you are.

Because I believe in this so much, I am going to offer a special for any headshots booked before May 31, 2013. Usually my one person mini session runs at $135 for 10 images. Until May, I am going to do a package where I offer:

  • Headshots for you PLUS headshots for one other person (could be a friend or a child or a parent).
  • Eight images each (sixteen total).
  • $135 including tax (and that, my friends, is a screaming deal!).

This will need to be done in my neck of the woods (within 5 miles of Auburn, WA). Contact me soon to set up your appointment!

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Celebrating Ten Years of Wedded Bliss at Pike Street Market

We have several friends that are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, just like us. We had anniversary pictures taken which I was so pleased with and I was delighted to get a note from my friend, Chandra, asking about doing the same. They were planning on staying downtown with cool Auntie Jenn holding down the fort with their two kiddos at home (yay for awesome aunties!!). I've been itching to do a whole session down at Pike Street Market, since I often am down there with my family. It's such a fantastic location with so many nooks and crannies, amazing food, textures, crowds, signage. It was really a lot of fun to shoot there. If you do choose a neat location like this you'll probably end up with a nice big gallery at the end as it's fun for me to shoot some of the details and "action shots" as well as get some portraits in the middle of it all. 02-IMG 5518 copy

The Pike Street Pigs were decked out as reindeer. Clever :).

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David and Chandra are a good fit. David has a good sense of humor (definitely a bit sarcastic at times) and an interesting perspective on a lot of stuff going on (he's a thinker). He's been taking some extra classes and I was laughing a while back when he was making molecular structures out of playdough with their kids to keep them busy and to keep on track for his studies. Chandra is such a warm person, with a kind word and encouragement for those around here. I so appreciate her beautiful smile and generosity. She's also got a great laugh.

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I love the Christmas feel around the market. I made them kiss now and again ;).

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This is my favorite place for coffee and a treat at the market and they had also breakfasted on pastry there that morning.

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The food is gorgeous and the usual hustle of the market always makes it a fun place to be.

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The original Starbucks where they had their morning coffee.

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Then we took the elevator down to the street level below and took some more portraits on the pier where there was more space.

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Messing around. Chandra just laughs.

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Chandra said that the girl who had served them coffee that morning asked them for some advice on making it ten years. "Hang in there," she said. Not very earth shattering advice. However, we talked about how when the business of kids and life and school and work mounts, added to the pressure of other events, that to keep walking things out together is the best way to go. A happy marriage is worth the effort.

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Thank you, friends, for sharing a tiny bit of your special weekend with me. Chandra said that she'd had a couple come into their medical clinic who had been married 70 years. 70 years! That seems like a great goal to me :) .

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Standing Strong

This whole session felt like it was meant to be. When I was facebooking about my trip to Texas, my friend Jene who now lives down east, wrote me right away, wondering if I might be anywhere close to her sister who lives in Texas. I had met Julie and Jeff years ago, before they moved to the Lone Star State as they used to be on staff with the church family in WA that we are now a part of. Are you confused yet :)?

Julie is fighting cancer. She and Jeff made the drive up to meet me so that I could photograph them and I was so happy to do it. They are walking out this unexpected path and battle so amazingly. Julie is open about what she's dealing with and I think her frankness gives others a place to both stand with them and also feel comfortable to process as each person needs. Jeff is so warm and caring with his wife and the love that they have for each other is deep and strong.

They couldn't stop talking about how grateful they were for the support they've received from family and friends and Julie's school where she works. They are full of the kind of joy that true faith in a loving God brings, where there is real comfort and hope.

She'd lost her hair from chemo and so she sported a bunch of lovely hats, given to her from people that love her. I know she's feeling the physical effects of both her disease and treatment but what shines through clearly is her lovely and strong heart and brilliant smile. My daughter walked in as I was editing and said, "Who is she? She's really, really pretty." She is truly beautiful. And Jeff, with his shaved head in support of his wife, is pretty awesome too.

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Has she every got a fun laugh.

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Julie and Jeff, I left our time together feeling so refreshed and encouraged. You are a shining example of what real love looks like. I am praying with you for complete recovery and for Julie to have every one of the days that God has already numbered for her. Much, much love.

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They're All Grown Up and Getting Married

I got an email from Jared this summer, even before they were engaged. He told me that things with Amber were heading towards engagement and was wondering if he could arrange to have portraits done when I came to Texas and when he and Amber were there on break from college in Denver. He wanted to surprise her (good guy). I was thrilled and excited as I have known them since they were in my Sunday School classes when they were five and six. In the last several years, I've seen (on good old facebook) how they have grown up and fallen in love and like everyone else that's known them forever, I couldn't be happier for them.

They love the Lord. They love each other. They have such a big heart for others. I feel so proud, in a mother-hen-Sunday-school-teacherish kind of way.

This session was pure fun and it was so great to get to talk to them and see them as adults now. We had such a good time. I know they were a wee bit nervous at the beginning. After all, who wouldn't be when your Sunday school teacher is telling you to get close and kiss ;). However, in just a couple minutes we were settled right in. What a joy to see the way that they care for and honor each other.

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Of course, I made them do a silly one.

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Could they smile any wider?

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LOVE these.

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Amber brought along her purity rings that she's worn over the years as a symbol of keeping herself for the one that God had for her. Apparently, there were so many as they'd get lost and found...

I think she's pretty happy to trade them in for that gor-ge-ous ring Jared gave her!

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A little dancing at the end.

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You guys have no idea what a blessing it was to be the one to take these engagement pictures. I am so happy for you and delighted to see what God will do through your marriage.

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First Year Anniversary Portraits for Andy and Katie

I can't tell you how many families I photograph where the parents confess that they haven't had a good photo of them taken since their wedding...8..10...12 years ago. Eeek. That's way too long! And while wedding pictures are so wonderful and worth investing in for sure, I think that the love that matures and grows each year is so worth celebrating too!

That's why I was pleased when Katie and Andy contacted me about doing some portraits to celebrate their first anniversary. It was so fun to visit with them and see how in love they are a year later. They look married. That happy companionship where you know each other so well and have learned how to trust the other to love and honor you.

They fit. Really well. As in two becoming one...just like it's supposed to be.

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Just a word on location. Sometimes people are extremely concerned about where exactly their pictures are to be. I am always FAR more concerned with lighting than location, though it certainly does factor in. This bush where the sun was glowing through had a dumpster behind it and paper cups on the ground of the parking lot beside it....and you'd never know. It was just perfect lighting while we were there. I'm always so happy for clients who trust me with that. It's my job to find the light that you'll look the best in.

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I just LOVE this set. I know there are a lot of themed sessions (think whimsical picnic in the woods) out there done by photographers who are great at them, as well as photographers who are very styled (think Vogue) with their posing. What makes my heart sing, is a simple, clean portrait where you can truly see the souls and connections of the people in front of my camera. These make me happy for that reason.

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So just about two hours before our shoot I fired off a last minute email to Katie and Andy with an idea. Since it was the "Paper" anniversary, would they be up for bringing something "paper". I was thinking origami, a sign, maybe even a paper airplane...but I love what they did. They bought little journals and wrote a little note to each other for their anniversary. I suspect these anniversary journals will see many entries over the years.

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So gorgeous.

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Andy and Katie, your love is a beautiful thing and a real example to those around you. Happy one year and many more.

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Ray, Kitty and the Yellow Roadster

This session was absolutely pure fun. When Kitty called and told me that for Ray's birthday she wanted to have portraits of them taken in his yellow roadster,I jumped at the chance. What blessed me so much was seeing the pleasure that they get from riding together, but even more than that, giving rides to people and letting kids sit in his car. Too fun! At the end, Ray offered me a spin around town and I jumped right in without hesitation. People were smiling and I was waving like the queen :). They are as generous and warm as they look in these pictures.

This was part one of Ray, Kitty and the Yellow Roadster. Part two is coming this fall in the leaves and also when I heard that they had caps and goggles I insisted that they bring those along next time.

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Love. So fun that this is my job.

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Todd and Keyna Engaged (and Now Married!)

I met up with Todd and Keyna a few weeks back so we could take some engagement pictures about a week and a half before their wedding. It was a totally enjoyable and low key night for me as we chatted about kids, favorite spots in Tacoma, and wedding plans. I feel like I am always learning something new about this area and they had some great recommendations for daytrips and places to visit.

Keyna warned me at the get go that she was usually one to avoid being in front of the camera and she's not the first person to tell me that. I don't think anyone I photograph really feels like a model :). What I do hope to do is make you feel comfortable enough to get a good glimpse of you. Once we started, the way that Todd feels about Keyna and Keyna feels about Todd came right through....and that was just what I was hoping for.

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I'm always impressed with creative proposals. Todd had rented out one of their favorite theaters where he took his girl and popped the question.

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Todd and Keyna, I wish you all the very best in your marriage. Thanks for a really great night.

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Naomi and Jono...Engaged and Pretty Happy About It

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take engagement pictures of a really great young couple. My cousin's daughter, Naomi, is marrying Jonathan in just under a month and by the way they look at each other...the day can't come fast enough. They're in love and it's wonderful to see. I so enjoyed my time walking around with them, hearing about their plans and what they love to do together. They are genuinely warm and personable which are big qualitites to me. (Dates get flipped around in Canada where it's day.month.year :) )

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Jono was so loving with Naomi, telling her how gorgeous she was (and she was!!) and how much he loved her (and it's pretty obvious!).

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It's clear that Naomi adores him back. A lot. They are a good fit.

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Here Jono pledges to keep Naomi happily caffeinated as long as they both shall live. She accepts. Unfortunately JJ Bean was closed so we went to another favorite spot. They confessed that they both have a thing for coffee. I completely understand.

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She's such a sweet heart (and a real knockout!).

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(Is it quirky that I think the pidgeon absolutely makes the shot below?)

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Both in school, studying hard in their respective fields (when they aren't distracted by each other) :) .

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I thought this set at another local coffee shop was so fun.

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It won't be long now! Jono and Naomi, I'm not sure that you can smile any more on your wedding day than you did the other night! It is such a blessing to see you so happy. God bless you! See you soon!

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Maggie's Horses

I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to spend a lovely evening photographing Maggie and her beautiful horses, Ellie and Missy. These horses were gems, so peaceful and beautiful, even with me crawling around in the grass around them. Every once in a while, Missy, would give me the look and then go back to eating. The care and love that Maggie has for her mares was so clear to me. She knows them, their likes and quirks. They respond clearly to her too. I really enjoyed the opportunity to photograph both the horses and the relationship that they have with Maggie.

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I thought it was pretty sweet of them to give each other a little love for the camera.

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She is lovely and talented.

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Her mom is one of our favorite preschool teachers. Ruby and Jasper have had special years with her and Tymen is chomping at the bit for his turn next year.

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Couldn't resist adding this one too :) .

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There was this sweet peacefulness during our whole time together and I can so see how Maggie loves to spend her time here.

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Shane and Tina...Happily Ever After

It's just been a couple weeks since they tied the knot and they are still beaming. I remember when we got married, coming to the end of all the showers, parties, the wedding and the reception and as much fun as it all was, just being relieved to be married.

Tina and Shane were relaxed and comfortable and fun. I loved hearing the details of the wedding as we walked around. It sounded like they had so many friends jump in to help make their day so unique and special. Seeing the way he'd look at her and the way she'd smile with shiny eyes back at him was wonderful. Love is a beautiful thing.

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Tina said the first time she met Shane, she thought he was cute and hoped he'd ask her out. They are both looking pretty happy that he did.

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I told him to tell his beautiful bride something nice and she started smiling perfectly.

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Tina and Shane, I wish you all the blessings in the world as you begin married life together!

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Fiona and Rodolphe in the City of Love {Paris Session}

I know that one of the reasons that Ben and I had such a wonderful trip to Paris was because of the gracious hospitality of Fiona and her husband, Rodolphe.

Fiona is friends with my sister and her husband and thanks to FB, we connected when she would drop me sweet notes about some of Kelly's photos that I'd taken. At times we'd message back and forth and when I told her that Ben and I were hoping to come to France, she kindly offered to show us around.

When we nailed down our plans, she asked if I could do a session of her and Rodolphe. Would I....are you kidding me?...a photo session in France?...sign me up!

Even though we'd never officially met, she planned on spending two days with us, one with Rodolphe, wandering around Paris and then the next day she took us to Versailles. They were so fun and gracious and answered a ton of questions that we had. Fiona and I would walk along chatting and the guys were right behind us, talking too. They were very generous hosts with us and we are hoping to have the same opportunity with them as we're trying to talk them into a trip to Seattle.

Before we headed off the first day altogether, the three of us took a walk out from our hotel which was right in the middle of things to take their portraits.

The City of Love to photograph a couple in love...what could be more perfect? I was ecstatic, far more than they were I'm sure! What a fun opportunity! Also, I have to say, you don't have to ask a French couple to be affectionate. They were awesome and so easy to photograph.

We started out a a cool mosaic wall near one of the eateries by our hotel.

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Pretty much everywhere is a great spot to photograph in Paris so we just tried to walk where it wasn't very populated and honestly, I could have kept going all day :) .

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At the Seine.

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Then off to the gardens by Notre Dame. By this time I was pretty thrilled, raving on about the light and how much fun I was having. (They were laughing at me a little).

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Fiona and Rodolphe, thank you again for all your hospitality and generosity. We had SO much fun with you. We can do it all again over here....start checking for tickets....

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Business Portraits of Susanne

Have you ever looked at a clunky website or blog that's hard to navigate with a really far away, squinty profile picture? First impressions are a big deal, both in real life and online. Blogs and websites for small businesses, churches, and really any professionals need to present well. I am such a believer in good portraits as a part of that. It's always amazing to me when people put so much effort into their business content and web design and then post a tired snapshot or nothing at all.

I have begun offering one person mini sessions as an opportunity to offer portraits  for just such things: business cards, blogs, websites, newsletters. Of course, if you are having a family session with me, you can always ask me to do a few headshots of you too!

My friend, Susanne, and and I met up the other day to take pictures for her newsletters that go out for her business as a Norwex consultant. Before she started with this company, we used to talk about our mutual love for order and clean (even with little kids' fingerprints and messes around). She became a consultant just a few months ago and these products are just selling themselves. I (who never host home parties) had a home party and laughed at how all the women gasped at how she could clean butter off a window with just a cloth and water. Really, they are awesome products and it makes me feel so good knowing that there are no harsh chemicals involved. Here is her website, https://susanneklovdahl.norwex.biz/, if you'd like to take a peek. I have to say that Susanne as a consultant is so warm and friendly and knowledgeable, but absolutely does not pressure anyone into purchases. I was also surprised at how many discounts and gifts I got for hosting the party. I could truly be a commercial for Norwex :) !

I was so happy to take some professional images of Susanne for her to choose from. (A mini session includes 10 images on disk). It also was her littlest girl's birthday this week so we took some three year old pictures of her. Following are a few of my favorites of Malia and then of Susanne, with a few of them together.

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At the end of our session we popped the kids in our vans and headed off for donuts. Too bad we didn't have our handy dandy Norwex cloths to clean up the chocolate, blueberry, sprinkle covered kids at the end! We had some sticky donut munchers.

Much success in your business, my friend!!

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A "Just Because" Mini Session

There's not much that makes me happier than photos "just because". Alex confessed that it felt just a bit indulgent to have portraits taken when she didn't fall into the main categories of picture subjects: engaged, getting married, having a baby. Just because she's in a new season of her life, working, traveling, taking a few classes here and there for fun, enjoying her family and her friends. A bit of what inspired her was the fact that her mom had portraits taken when she was in her mid twenties. I love that. I'll just bet that Alex is so glad that her mom did that and is not wishing that her mom would have indulged on a shoe sale instead (not that there's a thing wrong with shoes ;) ). Alex has joined me with daily pictures (or almost daily....no penalties for missing a day here or there!) for a 366 Project and I think that it's so awesome that she sees the value of documenting her life at all the different stages. Sometimes people feel like there's not a lot going on without a load of kids to put in front of the camera. Not true.

On my past trips to Santa Barbara, I have wandered around, enjoying the city while Ben worked hard all day. I have found myself wishing that I had someone to photograph because as much fun as it is to photograph beautiful flowers and buildings, it's way more fun to photograph people. Alex is a co-worker with Ben and I met her when Ben walked me through all the cubes last trip around. She was such a sweetheart and had read my blog when Ben sent out the link about Theo's birth to everyone at work. Since then, she's dropped me kind comments. (I love comments :) ) and when I told her I was heading down for a few days, she asked if maybe she could do a mini session as part of the photography fundraising for this amazing adoption.

She was such a pleasure to photograph. We wandered around and talked and I thoroughly enjoyed her. She's extremely engaging and knows how to reciprocate in conversation fluently (a skill I am always impressed with!). It was so fun for me to see how much she's enjoying her life and pursuing opportunities to grown and enjoy herself. She cycles around the city every chance she gets which is why I loved it that she met me on her bike. IMG 8249 copyw

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She's so beautiful.

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I have now begun offering mini sessions. These are thirty minute shoots for one person (child updates, birthday pictures, headshots for business or websites, just because :)) and you choose 10 images from an online gallery to go on disk with a copyright release. It also includes an image of your choice to receive professionally printed as an 8x10.

Alex, because you were a part of the adoption fundraising, I am going to include all 18 images on your disk. Spending the morning with you was a pure treat for me!  Also, thanks for breakfast...that Andouille Eggs Benedict plate was pretty amazing.

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Beauty in the Midst of Cancer

My daughter has been asking me for a while now if I will be a famous photographer. I tell her that I won't be, that I am quite happy to photograph the circle of people that I have been blessed with. So it was a first for me a few weeks ago, when we were taking our family pictures in Kent, for a lady to walk up to me and kindly ask me if I was Cassandra Hamilton and if I was a photographer. She went to get coffee with a friend and met up with me at the end. She had seen my website on the recommendation of a friend who had suggested that she contact me about having portraits done before her surgery. She is fighting cancer and is scheduled for surgery this week. I have walked enough with the Lord in my life to recognize when things are not just co-incidences....but real opportunities for connection from Him.

So we set up a time to meet. Julie sent me the link for THE SCAR PROJECT. Every time I have looked through the images, I have been deeply moved and pretty much cried at the portraits of these women whose courageous, fierce, strong beauty is so powerful. As I thought about this session beforehand, I so appreciated Julie's wisdom and willingness to document her journey. As much as I love documenting the high points of life, the reality is that it is in the difficult times that character and strength of heart are forged. It is well worth photographing too. If I was in her position, this is what I would want too.

I came to her home at the last light of a day that had been stormy and messy. Her cat was checking me out (I don't know that I ever met his approval) and she had some disco music playing. We paged through a gorgeous book of art about women fighting breast cancer and I asked questions about the process she's walked through. It was so apparent to me that she's someone who chooses hope and life. She laughs. She's thankful. She is strong.

She showed me her wigs and we chose a few to take some portraits of outside. Jim, her husband, kindly let me take a few pictures of him too. She spoke highly of him and his support.

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There is a beauty that burns deep in the heart of a woman who loves and lives well. She was shining with it.

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Then we went indoors and did a series of pictures of her at her window. Honest. Striking. Engaging. Of course, there are some that I will leave for just Julie but I wanted to share a couple favorites.

This one we used some of the pictures of different parts of her life.

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The deepest beauty comes from a heart that is filled with love. I am praying for Julie as she goes for a mastectomy tomorrow, that she would feel all the love of her friends and community, of those who cheer her on from a distance, and of the very richest love of a Heavenly Father who cares for His children.

I am asking that you would say a prayer for this woman today, for peace and comfort and strength. If you would leave a comment to let her know that you are thinking of her, that would be so appreciated too.

Julie, this is part one. When we photograph you for part two, you will be every bit as lovely. Thank you for sharing this time with me.

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The Best is Yet to Come

I don't think that there is much that is more beautiful than people who have loved the Lord, each other, and the folks around them for years and years. The kindness and joy that permeates them is something that I look to and think, "I want to be like that." Pastors Jim and Betsey were such a treat for me to photograph for that very reason. Their mini session was a gift from their daughter and I was delighted with the opportunity to visit with them as we walked the park. They have been through a year of transitions, the biggest being stepping down from being lead pastors at their church, Eastside Foursquare Church . When I asked them what they were going to do with all their free time now that they were retired, they smiled and said, "Well, we have a few things that we are still doing." As they listed them off, I realized they may be doing different things but they still have their plates nice and full with ministry and family..and I suspect they like it that way :) .

When they arrived Betsey said, "We've decided to dress the way we do all the time." Good for them...and a nice shoutout to the good people of Petoskey, Michigan, Betsey's hometown. Here's a few favorites.

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(Doesn't Pastor Jim look just a bit like a cool drummer here?)

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God's richest blessings on you during this next season of your lives and ministry together!

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