After meeting and really falling in love with this crew on their first session at the beach in 2015, I was happily anticipating getting to do a second one on their home turf. I walked in the door to see their sweet old pup in her sunny spot on the couch, and pulled my camera out to take the first shot before I even said hello to everyone, half expecting an old lady smoker’s voice to come out instead of a bark.

They showed me their rooms, and how they play in the living room, and took me to their favorite bookstore, walking distance from home.


This isn’t something you usually hear about from photographers, because we all want to go along with the idea that photo shoots are all magic and easy and everyone always has so much fun and loves them, but honestly the only person that really wants to be having photos taken is mom, (and me). Of course there are exceptions, but in my experience everyone shows up for her. Most family members aren’t excited about it, but they do it. A huge part of my job is how I work to change the negative perceptions and attitudes they have about a session to get everyone on my team. My ultimate goal, when the shoot is over, is to have everyone thinking, “That wasn’t so bad, and actually, it was pretty easy/awesome/fun/bonding/sweet.”

Case in point. These boys were over it after ten minutes and it took a lot of work to get them on my side. When a kid has some behaviors or refuses to join in, I want to understand why. Are they tired? Shy? Bored? Trying to get attention? I first ask questions. Then I experiment with how I react to them and see what works. Over the course of this session, I learned that these kids had slept over with their grandparents the night before – so they probably hadn’t gotten the best night’s sleep. So I did what I could to make it easy on them, and include them when they were open to it, without a lot of pressure. I share this not to single these kids out, but to put this out there so you know it happens, of course it happens (basically every time). I’m not going to judge you or your kid, and most importantly, I can handle it.


PS – I will be in Seattle the weekend of May 27th and Portland the week of June 20th. Contact me if you want info on my travel sessions! 




I wake up in her room, alone.  She was up several times in the night, which is what she’s doing right now, and her Mom and Dad are rallying hardcore, doing life every day on very little sleep. I can hear her babbling from next door, her parents’ bedroom. I get up and go into their room where they are both lying on their backs, using one arm to cover their faces and one arm to keep her from falling off the bed, and I see them and I think oh yeah, I KNOW THIS FEELING.

She looks up at me bright eyed and bushy tailed, fingers in her mouth, smiling all bald like she is. To her parents I whisper, “Let’s see if she’ll let me take her. Sleep,” and scoop her up. She says, “Mama!” and we slip out into the living room to find distractions.

She is one of the first babies I’ve ever met who hasn’t LOVED ME pretty immediately. I have loved babies my whole life, as a kid was called a mother hen, and they’ve always loved me back! I am actually really good with babies. But this one, this one I’ve got to work for. She tends to look at me most of the time like I’m from outer space – like, who the hell is this crazy person who kind of looks like my dad? She is also at the age where she just wants Mom and Dad, so I enjoy little moments with her here and there, but I mostly give her space and try not to force things.

One of the things I thought might help with the creature from outer space issue is if she knew what to call me, what I WAS. Tara is hard for a new talker to say – and there really isn’t a good nickname, so she hasn’t connected me to it yet. I could tell it confused her, not to know what word meant ME. She has a few words like kitty, baby, mama, and dada, so after some ABC book reading and breakfast we sat on the couch and I tried to get her to say Auntie.

(blank stare).

Okay … maybe T. (nope).

Hmm Auntie T? (crickets)

auntie t… teetee. TeeTee? (she raises her eyebrows)

I’m TEETEE, Ellie!

And she looks at me like, OH! THAT’S RIGHT  YOU ARE TEETEE, points and says, “TeeTee!”

And then I died, content with the knowledge that yep, I still got it.




This one was really cool for me because I have known the parents for a very long time. Dad (Matt) and I went to church together as kids. His parents were the youth leaders, and I had a lot of great times with them. Matt married the most lovely person (Julie), and I have ALWAYS wanted to get my hands on their family for a shoot.

Finally got my chance.

We started off at their house and then stopped for dinner at their local fave, Tio’s Tacos, a place rich in eye candy, to say the least. Once we were technically finished, I still wanted a little more time with them and knew I had a tiny bit of light left, so we raced across town to find a hill to climb. I squeezed as much as possible out of our time together and ended in the best way possible, with portraits at dusk as the city lights came on in the distance, and warm goodbye hugs all around.