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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. 


Staycation at the lost lake (Portland family photographer)

When Kent and Leah asked me to come out and take photos of their sweet family, including their 5-week-old baby girl Hannah and two-year-old son Henry, I hopped in my car, typed the address into my GPS, and was surprised to see that the home (her parents') was practically around the corner. My second surprise came when I pulled up and found a lovely lake in their backyard. I have lived in Oak Grove for years and had no idea there was a large fishing hole just a few streets over.

Between the warm, sunny weather and the beautiful scenery, taking their photos was like taking a mini vacation.

I’m photographing Hannah’s first birthday party this weekend and I’m so excited to see how she’s grown!


It doesn't get much cooler than these nerds (Portland, Oregon band photographer)

They say it’s not what you know but who you know, and I know some pretty cool people. Two of those comrades are Angela and Aubrey Webber, aka The Doubleclicks. They are a sister nerd-folk duo. (I'll give you a second to let that sink in.) Angela plays guitar and ukulele and Aubrey plays cello, and they harmonize on songs about gaming, superheroes, comic book conventions, classic literature and dinosaurs. Their lyrically packed songs are fun and catchy, full of pop-culture references and wit.

I met Angela when she worked with me at the newspaper. I remember when she got one of her first gigs at a tea shop and everyone in the newsroom brainstormed band names in preparation. Here it is a few years later and the band has crisscrossed the nation on tour, made dozens of appearances on radio shows, podcasts and in print and are just generally becoming big huge stars.

Just in case you were curious, yes, taking band photos is pretty cool. First of all, the Doubclicks know themselves, their audience and their music so well, that they just brought so much expression and creativity to each photo. I had so much fun trying to keep up with their smirks. Secondly, I asked them to pretend they were playing, and they actually played for me, treating me a mini concert for one.

The Doubleclicks are currently on their Velociraptour and their new album “Lasers and Feelings” drops in July. Check them out at


Vintage lovin’ at a closed-for-the-season amusement park (Portland, Oregon couple photographer)  

You know how kids latch on to something they love and get a little obsessed? Well, for me it wasn't My Little Pony or The Muppets or even Cabbage Patch dolls, it was the 1950s. (Ok, it was that other stuff a little bit too.) I don't know how it started, but for several years of my life, I liked to dress up in a poodle skirt and saddle shoes, decorate my room with cardboard records and a jukebox and dance around to Leslie Gore and The Supremes. My sweet parents took me to every '50s-style diner in the Portland metro area.

So you can imagine my excitement when Tony and Alena told me they wanted to do a 1950s-inspired couple portrait session. My inner child was beaming.

We shot the photos at the historic Oaks Amusement Park in Southeast Portland, which was closed for the winter, and was a perfect backdrop for the day.

I brought the era-appropriate pink dishes I bought at a garage years ago, a few old 45s and my vintage suitcases.

Alena and Tony brought their style and charisma. I had so much fun with them. They are both are so funny and full of rapid-fire pop culture references and witty observations. Every time I have a conversation with them, I walk away feeling like I'm funny and witty too.

Tony and Alena, thank you for being awesome friends and for spending a nostalgic Sunday morning with me. 


The crazy connection between motherhood and creativity

I don’t know if it’s a surge in hormones, true inspiration from looking at this tiny cherubic face all day or the feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing I created one, perfect thing in life, but I have felt an absolute flood of creativity after the birth of each of my children.

After my daughter was born, I felt myself wanting to write children’s books, getting movie ideas from my dreams, jotting down verses on scrap paper and absolutely aching inside when I saw a place I wanted to photograph. Suddenly a regular car ride was a location-scouting trip; I couldn’t help but notice that colorful graffiti on a wall, a perfectly debilitated barn or the way the light fell on the sidewalk.

When my son came, so did my creative renaissance. I had so many ideas that my phone became more of a brainstorm organizer than friend-caller.

And suddenly, I wanted to blog.

I wonder if other moms have felt the same way. Does having a child give you a new passion for life? And if so, maybe that explains the surplus of the much-maligned mom photographers.

If you haven’t heard, there’s quite the controversy in photography circles about women who are mothers and also professional photographers. There’s this stereotype of a rich, bored housewife, whose husband buys her a fancy DSLR and the next thing you know she’s in business with little training. The dreaded moniker that’s hurled like an insult? MWAC: Mom With A Camera. Often, well-established and brick-and-mortar photographers lament how these women are taking away business and undercutting the industry without doing the hard work -- you know, learning the craft, paying taxes and other legitimate concerns.

These people definitely exist, but I don’t worry too much about this because I think customers can tell the difference for one, and that anyone who comes into photography on a whim will drop it when the going gets hard. It’s not easy shooting a wedding in a dark church or taking family photos with children who will not cooperate. You really have to love what you do and dedicate yourself to learning to be a success.

I think what happens more often is that mothers are not bored, but inspired. They want to capture the fleeting moments of their precious babies’ firsts. Suddenly they are seeing their lives through a new set of sparkly, creative, mojo-filled eyes.

I’ve seen a ton of vitriol online about how terrible it is to be a mom with a camera. It’s like the fact that you’ve had a child somehow negates the quality of your work. I think the opposite is true. Mothers can see beauty in the abstract because we’ve loved a child before we were formally introduced. Mothers have had their bodies completely saturated with intense love and pain all at the same time. We’ve given everything we have to our children and after they are born we start fresh learning, seeing and absorbing through the eyes of a child. Of course, I’m not saying you have to be a mom to be a good photographer or creative person, I just know that for me, being a mother has brought a new level of intensity and passion to my life.

Instead of being annoyed by all the moms out there who pick up a camera, we should be encouraged and inspired by them, and try to see the world through their lens.  

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing women out there.