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Dismantling hot tubs and other skills I learned in college (Portland, Oregon professional portrait photographer)

When I was in college, I was a resident assistant — you know, one of those people who lives in the dorms and helps freshmen figure out the campus, conquer homesickness and resolve conflicts with their roommates.  I took the kids from my hall on field trips, planned fun yet educational get-togethers and hosted everything from pizza nights to Ultimate Frisbee games.

But it wasn’t all hall Olympics and movies in the lounge. Being an RA isn’t just serving the kids who need a resourceful shoulder to lean on, it’s about keeping the dorms a safe, quiet, clean, friendly place for everyone. That meant I spent many a night standing outside in the cold corralling people after someone pulled a fire alarm, or deconstructing a homemade “hot tub” some inventive students had built in the showers, or taking care of severely drunk people who couldn’t take care of themselves.

Sometimes it was super hard, but it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life, namely because I got to do and see so much during my college years, and especially because I got to meet some truly amazing people.

One of those people is Heather Reagan, one of my sweet residents. She recently launched her own photography business and we’ve reconnected in the last few months over our shared passion. We got together recently at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego to swap headshots, and after two hours of photographing each other, we ended up standing by our cars and talking until late into the night. It’s funny how two people can just pick up the conversation like no time has passed. I guess that’s what a year of living together will do for you.

Heather is as sweet as she was all those years ago, and it’s crazy to think we’re both grownups now with two kids a piece. You can find some of the pictures she took of me on my “about me” page. And she blogged about our experience too.

I’m so glad we are back in touch Heather, and I am excited about all the creative pursuits we can tackle together in the years to come!

Thanks for reading my blog! If you ever need professional portraits for your website, business cards or social media profiles, contact me anytime.



Getting a natural smile from your tot (Portland, Oregon children’s photographer)


Little kids have amazingly goofy smiles they put on whenever a camera comes out. Their picture smile usually involves throwing their heads back, jutting their chins toward the camera, squinting fiercely and lifting their lips way up over their gums to reveal teeth or the gummy holes where teeth should be. It's pretty adorable. It doesn't, however, look much like the happy kid you see playing out in the back yard.

So how do you get your child to give you a natural smile the next time you take his picture? Here's a few tips that have worked for me:

  • Once you bring the camera out, and your little one gives you the “cheese” face, go ahead and take the picture. Then ask him to try it another way. If you start out telling him he is doing it wrong, you are likely to end up with a grumpy guy.
  • Don't say cheese because it triggers them to pull their cheeks back in an unnatural way, and many kids believe that “say cheese” means give the biggest, fakest smile you can. They'll just breath the word out through clenched teeth. Instead, mix it up by saying having them repeat silly words like “pickle sandwich” “green bean casserole” and “rutabaga.” Anything food related is pretty classic and will generally make kids chuckle. (Speaking of food, sometimes offering a treat helps, but other times it's just messy and distracting. I would consider it a last resort. Also, young kids can’t understand delayed satisfaction, so when you offer them a treat if they are good for photos, they often can’t focus on anything but that goodie that’s waiting for them.).
  • Lock eyes with them and smile until they smile back. 
  • Be playful and make the experience special. Kids can pick up on that fun-time energy.
  • Play pretend.  Ask them to show you their angry face, what a shy person looks like and to model their best scared face. In between you are likely to get some great giggles.
  • Tell them not to smile. Reverse psychology is awesome that way.
  • Be patient and take breaks. Put the camera down and talk and play for a while and see if you are able to get them in a great mood so smiles come more easily.
  •  Keep in mind that not every smile has to be a big ol' grin. Some of my favorite pictures are just just natural expressions and soft smiles.

I love spending time with families and taking photos of children. If you are interested in getting fun and natural portraits of your family, drop me a line sometime!


Lessons Kenny Rogers taught me

One of my favorite parts of a wedding is when couples have an anniversary dance. The first time I saw one was at my cousin’s weddings in 2005. His bride is from a small town where everyone knows each other, and most everyone showed up for their big day. So when the DJ asked all the married couples to make their way to the dance floor, there were dozens of couples joining together on the crowded parquet square, close enough to bump elbows.

The song was “Through the Years,” which I already had a soft spot for because I grew up with a Kenny Rogers-loving mama. A few beats in, the DJ asked anyone who had been married less than a day to leave the dance floor, and the blissful newlyweds sat down. Then he went on, asking couples that had been married less than a year to sit down, then couples that had been married less than three years, etc. He continued adding years, and as each couple exited the spotlight, the whole room honored the time they’d spent together through cheers, smiles and waves. It was amazing to see a whole room of people celebrating one another's commitments.  

I loved seeing my own parents up there, partly because I’d never seen them dance in public before, but mostly because they seemed so proud of their 35 years together. By the end of the song, there were still a handful of couples holding each other close; the longest-married pair swayed together until the end of the song, and the whole room cheered their 50 plus years of matrimony. 

I’m not usually a very sappy person, but that was a really beautiful moment.

This week I celebrate eight years of marriage with a man who is loving, goofy, honest, generous and almost weirdly kind to strangers. I couldn’t be happier about the life we’ve built, and am thankful to have him as my husband every single day.

Happy anniversary to the amazing guy I married, and here’s to Kenny Rogers-inspired love all around.

(Self portrait circa 2005.) 


Old enough to remember when (Portland senior photographer)

I’m old enough to say, “I remember when you were little” to the young people in my life who seem to be growing up at alarming rates.  I try to avoid saying that — mostly because no one ever has a comeback to that comment — but I sure have been thinking it lately. Whether it’s my nephews (who turned all tall and strong and mature overnight) or in this case, my darling cousins, these kids just keep growing up on me. And they are both seriously gorgeous if you ask me!

I photographed Mariah and Xuxa a while back, and it was really wonderful to spend some quality time with both of them. There’s really only so much you can learn about a person at twice-a-year family get-togethers, so I appreciated the chance to have some time with just the three of us. They are both becoming such interesting, independent and fun ladies. 


A heart-to-heart with the birthday girl

My adorable niece Emma turned 2 years old today and while all the grownups were taking care of the last-minute food prep and decorating, I stole her away for a quick photo shoot. She looked angelic in her oh-so-ruffly pink dress as we walked down my street to a nearby walking path. The sun was shining and we walked hand in hand. Along the way I thought about how lucky I was to have a few minutes of quiet time to be alone with the birthday girl. I know she’s only 2, but she’s already a great best friend to my daughter: she’s fun and compassionate and a really great dancer. If someone is sick or hurt, she’s the first to come running with kisses. And she has one of those really great laughs.

Emma, I hope we make our birthday walk a tradition, and in 15 years we can talk about boys and school instead of doggies and well, doggies. 

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