birthday portrait at the rose gardenDoran reached out to me that his extended family would be coming to town celebrating his mother’s 70th birthday. He and his family, plus his sister’s family, and his brother, would all be there with their mother, and they wanted to have photos of everyone together. What a wonderful idea! We decided on the Rose Garden, because there would be plenty of space to roam around and pretty backgrounds. It was a beautiful summer morning! The families brought a few balls to play catch with, and Grandma was having a grand time joining in. All of these people were just so lovely together–you could tell they all really loved each other and were happy to be together.

rose garden extended family photography

The kids ranged in age from 1 to 13, and they were all wonderful together. The older kids tried to be a little aloof but still had some silliness of course, and the littlest ones were just having a blast running around and having so much loving attention.The grownups seemed to be having fun with all the kids equally too.

Mrs Flowers clearly ADORED all her grandchildren and was just savoring this time with them. I felt really honored to be there capturing them together! I’m pretty sure I was smiling the whole time just like all of these folks were. ๐Ÿ™‚

individual child cousins portraitsRose Garden Extended Family Photography_0006little boy chasing bubblesgrandmother and granddaughter

grandmother and baby girl together

adult siblings portraithusband and wife portrait

family portrait at the rose gardenRose Garden Extended Family Photography_0005mom and baby girluncle and nephew playing

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Imagine my thrill went Emi let me know that they were expecting their second baby! You may remember that I photographed their family when their son Cedric was born last year. So hurray for more babies! Emi wanted to do a combined gender reveal family photography session. I thought this was a grand idea! She scheduled the session for the same day as their ultrasound, because she knew she wouldn’t be able to wait even an extra day to find out the news. ๐Ÿ™‚Gender reveal family photography pink umbrellaThis was a fun concept that I hadn’t seen before: Emi decided to do an umbrella reveal. She ordered two black umbrellas that had a blue or pink interior. She brought them to the ultrasound and had her mom find out the baby’s gender, and select the right umbrella. Then when it was time at our session, they opened the umbrella! Isn’t that creative?

Gender Reveal Family Photography_0014Gender Reveal Family Photography_0008It ended up being an unexpectedly long day for the family, as the ultrasound took much longer than expected. Thankfully they had lots of snacks, as well as Grandma to help entertain Cedric for a few hours. Our session was at Laurelhurst Park on beautiful summer day. The light was divine, and it was warm but not too hot. We set up among the trees for the big reveal–PINK!–and then roamed around a few of of the many picturesque spots. Cedric was understandably having a hard time after such a big day, but he did great, and we got some amazing smiles from him. Hugs from mom and dad always help with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gender Reveal Family Photography_0007Gender Reveal Family Photography_0006Emi brought some baby booties that she had just finished knitting–she made some for Cedric before he was born too. They were a nice complement to her lovely purple dress!

Maternity photo pink umbrella baby shoesHappy couple pregnancy portrait

Gender Reveal Family Photography_0011Gender Reveal Family Photography_0012Gender Reveal Family Photography_0013Thank you Emi and Ryan–what a pleasure to work with your beautiful, growing family!

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What are your fun gender reveal photography ideas? I’d love to work with your family!

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I did three 365 Days projects–a self-portrait every day for a year. I did not start on January 1. I completed three years of that, and then continued with a photo every day. And I’m still going, actually. (Though to be honest, it feels like cheating sometimes, since I take a lot of mindless photos with my iPhone now.) It was a transformative experience for many reasons. I think I’ll actually make several posts about it. In this era of endless selfies, I want to talk about self-portraits (and self-portrait projects) and why they are important.

self portrait with camera

First, let’s define self-portraits.

I’m talking about more than just duckface smartphone selfies. Self-portraits can include that, sure, but it’s a much wider field of possibility in my mind. Generally I’m including “real camera” photos. To me, it’s more about intention, thought and creativity behind the photo, and also often being not physically attached to the camera device.

Why take self-portraits?

–It’s easy.

You are always around! No worries about finding a model or someone to get in front of your camera.

You are your own best director! No need to try describing your ideas with words to someone else. Just do it yourself!

–It’s no-risk.

If you look silly in a photo, there’s no one else to judge you. Often you are alone when taking photos, so literally there is no one else around to observe or judge your actions. You can be completely ridiculous and have a good laugh at yourself.

Plus, hello, you have a delete button. On the camera and on your computer.

–It will push you.

I started my first 365 in March 2007 with a tiny 3MP Nikon Coolshot that I’d had since 2004. In May 2007, I bought myself a bigger and better point & shoot bridge camera (Sony DSC-H7). The following May (2008), my now-husband surprised me with my first DSLR, a refurbished Nikon D40x. That same December (2008), I bought a used Nikon D80. In August 2010, I bought a used Nikon D300. In January 2013, I *finally* went full-frame with a brand-new Nikon D600. In November 2015, I upgraded to a new Nikon D750.

For each new camera, I took a version of this photo:

self-portrait with new cameraYou may have a vision or idea, but it may be tougher than you think to achieve that look. You might start playing with different settings and modes on your camera. You might try out new editing techniques.

The more photos I took, the more inspiration and ideas I had from the flickr community I was part of, the more I wanted to try and do with my camera and post-processing. As I grew in my self-portrait journey, my equipment grew up along with me.

Also, I am a complete and utter dork. And I OWN IT. I give zero ****s about doing something silly or weird for a photo. That is some serious growth and self-actualization…all from taking my own picture for years on end! ๐Ÿ™‚

Silly self-portraits

–You will get used to the camera.

I don’t think I ever had a serious problem feeling camera-shy, but after three years of being in front of the camera every.single.day, I am really comfortable. Now–I don’t usually love my face, but I have definitely accepted it. And taking so many photos of my own damn self, I have no problem acknowledging and enjoying when I take a flattering photo. And hey, the more photos you take of yourself, the more great photos of yourself you will have!

self-portrait collageBonus–when you need a good photo for social media profiles or what have you, you can choose from all the beautiful photos you’ve taken of yourself by yourself! (And I don’t mean selfies in the car!)

–You will develop more of a style.

I don’t like just looking at the camera and smiling. I realized that I much prefer a more dramatic scene, like looking away or with a serious expression, and/or photos without my face in them at all! Gasp! Maybe you will discover that you prefer certain angles, or lots of action in your photos, or a lack of action. You will almost certainly go through a phase of making everything black and white.ย  You may start making everything super saturated, or super hazy.ย  (I encourage you to not to get stuck in either of those styles; keep trying different editing styles.)(Several photos in this post are no longer a style I like or use.)

–You can tell your own story.

Use your face, your clothing, your body, your environment to tell a story. The story could be about an event that particular day, or an emotion you feel, or something in your life, or even a joke!

Here’s a memorable one from June 2009. I titled this, “These boots aren’t made for climbing, but that’s just what I did.” In the caption I wrote, “These boots are walking me into a new adventure–I accepted a job today!” (I also included the outtakes of the actual climb up this short wall as a fun extension of the story.)

DSC_1598_WEB(PS–some days you probably won’t have a story. THAT IS OKAY and perfectly normal.)

My 365 flickr sets literally tell the story of my life in those years. That is priceless.

–It develops discipline and creativity.

Nothing like doing something for three hundred and sixty-five days to push your creative mind! (Though again, you don’t have to do 365 days of self-portraits to get the benefits.)

I found that every time I set up a little shoot or scene, my vision changed or transitioned, and I would end up with photos that looked different than my original intent. It’s good to give yourself some time to play once you have everything set up. For example, one day it snowed, and I put on a fancy dress and went out onto our roof to take photos. In this case I didn’t have anything in mind more specific than “fancy dress in the snow,” but several interesting shots came out (notice I didn’t edit or crop all of them):

self-portrait in the snow(Notice only two of these I’m looking at the camera, and there are no smiles to be seen.)

Now imagine the difference if I had simply taken a smartphone outside with me and just taken pictures of my stupid face in the snow while holding the phone. There’s no story there, no style, nothing interesting that says hey, I’m the one who took this.

–Every day can be easier than weekly.

That sounds crazy, right?

A weekly photo means that you need to decide when your week is. Does it start on Sunday, or Monday? Do you have to take the picture on a certain day? What if that day ends up super packed and then you don’t have time to do the mega awesome idea you had? It becomes too easy to let it go and say, oh I’ll do it next week.

As proof, here’s the extent of the 52 Week Project I began in 2015. Great fun but then I totally fizzled.

selfportraitsJust keep clicking. Every day. You will develop the habit, and you will be proud. Some days will be shi**y photos. AND THAT’S OKAY. Tomorrow is a new day! What photo will you take?

–You will fail.

And that is a good thing. Whatever failure means to you–missing a day, taking an ugly photo–the thing to remember is to KEEP GOING. Like Dory says, Just keep swimming! We are humans, and we are not perfect. The hard thing is to push past that. To acknowledge that, whoops I messed up, but I won’t let that stop me!

DSC_7008-3_WEBNow go forth and take some self-portraits!

  • January 7, 2017 - 1:07 am

    Ukimmeru - Great post. ๐Ÿ˜Š As someone who also did three 365s, may I add another important effect? The friendships that sprouted and stayed with people from all over the world at a time before FaceBook and other social medias were so ubiquitous was such an unexpected gift.ReplyCancel

  • January 27, 2017 - 9:16 pm

    Willy - These are utterly fantastic. I love all the personality that comes through. These aren’t “selfies” which are the most boring form of photography I’ve ever seen. These are real portraits. Gorgeous.ReplyCancel

    • January 27, 2017 - 10:48 pm

      Julie - You are too kind! Thank you so much! I took plenty of crappy ones since it was a slog sometimes, but I am really proud of some of the ones I created. ๐Ÿ™‚ReplyCancel

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Northwest Portland Family Photography at homePhotographing Alayna and Sacha and their three children was such a fun and warm experience! Warm literally, because it was the hottest day of the year…but also figuratively, because all of them were just lovely to be around. Our original plan was to split this Northwest Portland family photography session between their home and their local favorite park, but obviously the weather kept us inside. Thank goodness for air-conditioning!

And I mean, look at these kids. How could a session with these faces be anything *but* a great time?!Northwest Portland Family Photography Three children portrait personality

We did some posed portraits and then let the kids play around the house. Each child has their favorite things and activities. Mateo, 9, loves his books and maps, so we did a photo in his room surrounded by those favorites. He also loves Legos plus Star Wars, and he had built an impressive set of Star Wars Legos in the family room, so we captured that, plus his brand-new Star Wars costume!Portraits of 9 year old boy at home

Natalia, 7, loves her kitties; she carries them around like babies and even in a stroller! (Sadly I didn’t get to see the stroller for myself) I photographed them in her room, which was filled with light and books and pictures. She also plays the piano, so I was able to get some really sweet photos of her playing.

Portrait of 7 year old girl at homeAnd Rosa, 5, is FULL of goofy energy. She loves jumping. LOVES it. There are two couches that face each other in the front room, and she just leaps between them for as long as she can. Like, she does this every day. Impressive stamina!Northwest Family Photography outdoor portrait

Little girl jumping on the couchWe did go outside, very briefly, for a change of scenery. Of course we did a couple photos of just Sacha & Alayna! So many parents don’t get nice photos of themselves after kids come along, have you noticed? We did stay in the shade, and went back in quickly to drink some water and cool down.Happy couple outdoors

Thank you so much for the wonderful time, L family! What a pleasure to get to know all of you!Siblings being silly

No matter the weather, we can have a great time together and create fun, authentic photos of your family. Contact me to book your session today!

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Britney and her family visit the Portland area at least once a year. They live in New York but her husband’s family lives here, his parents and his brother and family. Their visit this spring was especially busy, since there were several events like graduations and birthdays to celebrate. So it must have been tough to schedule everyone for yet another thing, but I think everyone understood how meaningful it is to have photographs taken with everyone together. This Northwest Portland Extended Family Photography session was a lot of fun because all of these people were just lovely! You can tell they truly enjoyed spending time together on this beautiful day.

We began our session with a few quick photos at John & Holly’s house, in their gorgeous back garden. Little Isis, almost three, wore the yellow dress that her grandma wore at 3! What a special photo memory to create. Holly has a photo of her in the dress, and hopefully in thirty or fifty years, Isis can show her daughter or granddaughter both photos together and be reminded of her family history.

From there, we all traveled to a little park that featured a small lake, a tree-lined pathway and several wooden bridges and walkways. We walked around a bit and stopped to play in a shady spot. There was ring-around-the-rosy, and tickles, and tossing in the air. Little Lio kept wandering away to explore, and his parents Michael and Jenna would chase after him. Quincy, Isis’s baby brother, was only four months old, and so sweet and easy-going. Isis was full of energy and zeal, running and jumping and having a fabulous time. I love the shot of her holding hands with her dad and grandpa, and the unbridled glee while playing with her mom and dad. (Aren’t toddlers the best?)

Seriously, what a wonderful afternoon it was! All these photos really make me smile–I’m so honored to have captured this extended family together. Lots of hugs and happy faces. Thank you so much, Britney and family!

Northwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0022Northwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0023little girl holding hands with familymom and babydad with babysweet little girl with flowerparents with babyNorthwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0024Northwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0025

father with babyNorthwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0001Family playing ring around the rosyNorthwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0003mother playing with daughtermom playing with daughterdad playing with daughterNorthwest Portland Extended Family Photography_0009

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