Photo sessions to reopen during COVID — Tacoma Family Photographer

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted us all and I truly hope this message finds you healthy and secure. I know how hard it is to be home with kids, working, homeschooling, house chores and projects all while trying to nurture our mental and physical health.

We all have a strong desire to get back to the new normal slowly and safely. I anticipate that I can start photographing families soon. And by soon, I mean June 1st!

THE OFFICIAL WORD IS THAT PHOTOGRAPHERS CAN START OPERATING AGAIN ONCE WE ENTER PHASE 2 OF THE WASHINGTON REOPEN PLAN!

If you have already booked a session between June 1st-September 1st you can assume that we won’t need to reschedule. I highly encourage those of you that love fall sessions to consider taking a summer spot just in case the virus spikes again in September. My annual Holiday Tree Minis will likely be scheduled for late summer/early fall. I’ll be sending out a newsletter to all my VIPs for first pick at time slots then posting to my Facebook and Instagram.

Only you know how much family portraits mean to you. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture your photos this year. The best part? Your holiday photos will be done wayyyyy ahead of time!

SAFETY WILL BE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY! HERE IS WHAT WE PLAN TO DO TO MAKE SURE YOUR FAMILY STAYS HEALTHY:

I will be wearing a mask to all outdoor Family Photography Sessions. For Newborn Sessions, I’ll wear a mask and gloves.

If I or ANYONE in my household has been sick in any way within a two-week span of your session date, I’ll contact you to reschedule. I ask that you do the same. I promise to make room for all rescheduling needs.

I will practice extreme hygiene and minimize touching you and your family during the session.

I will use longer focal length lenses so we can stay six feet away as much as possible which will still allow us to capture images that seem like we are closer.

I will schedule one photo session a day.

Family Photography is an investment in your family. It is an absolute privilege to be able to capture your family and I don’t take that privilege lightly ESPECIALLY after this crisis. This global experience has really shined a light on what matters: our loved ones. And after that, maybe toilet paper.


 

Motherhood — Tacoma Lifestyle Family Photographer

Motherhood is so much more than I ever imagined it to be. It’s exhausting, exasperating, exciting, wild. It makes me laugh and cry, often at the same time. Some days it’s too much for my brain, heart, and body to handle and I want to take it all back. But I know I’d miss my kids too much and I’d miss being their mom. Their laugher, creativity, brilliance, hugs, love, and even their arguing gets me through even my hardest days, especially in quarantine. Despite how frustrated I get when I’ve been asked for a snack for the 523rd time in a single day, I enjoy being a momma.

Happy mother’s day to the moms of one and to moms of many, to moms who have lost children, to children who have lost their moms, to those with strained relationships, and to those who want to be a mom. Happy mother’s day to grandmas and aunties and extra and bonus moms, mama bears, fur moms, mamas, mimis, gigis, and nanas. You are strong, you are special, you are loved.


 

 

Mittleider Newborn Documentary Session & Adoption Story – Seattle Family Photographer

Families created by adoption have a special place in my heart. I am adopted myself so I feel connected to these stories of children being united with their new parents. I love seeing the joy of families who were meant to be.

However, the steps parents must go through to adopt a child are lengthy onerous, terrifying and confusing. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, paperwork, money, interviews, more paperwork, background checks, FBI checks, home studies, autobiographies, finding the right match, and traveling. At the end of it all, a new chapter of parenthood begins when the baby or child comes home.

The Mittleiders went through all of that and finally, after a tedious 9 months, they were able to hold their baby in their arms.

Kathleen and Tyler went “live” as approved adoptive parents in April of 2017. Tyler has been a program manager for Microsoft for 10 years. Kathleen started as an Amazon program manager in July of 2017. Their employers were very understanding. They knew that the Mittleiders could get a phone call for a baby at any time and would have to take time off. The Mittleiders expected to wait between 18-24 months to be able to bring their baby home. The call came 9 months later.

“Nothing about adoption is easy,” Kathleen said. “If anyone tells you it is, they’re lying. The paperwork alone to go live is a herculean effort. It’s sort of a hurry up and wait process. You hurry to get all of your paperwork in and then you just…..wait. We had just started the process of renewing our homestudy when we got ‘the call’.”

Kathleen saw her phone ring at 3:30pm on Friday, January 5th but didn’t recognize the number so she let it go to voicemail. It was from the city where their adoption agency was located. She quickly put two and two together but by that time Tyler was getting the same phone call. He also didn’t answer the unknown number. Kathleen called the number back and was told that they were placed with a family wanting to give their child over for adoption and that the baby was due in just 3 days. But the agency told them not to travel until the mother was in labor so they spent that weekend shopping and filling their nursery with all the things they needed for a new baby. They had already decorated the baby’s room and had only a few essentials. Then they waited. One long week after the initial phone call they bought their plane tickets and traveled to Arizona where the birth family was living. They got to meet the birth mother and father and had dinner with them that night. The next day the mother was induced and the Mittleider’s daughter Piper was born.

They were able to hold their new baby daughter less than an hour after her birth. But the adoption process doesn’t end there. The birth parents have 72 hours to sign over their parental rights or they can keep the baby.

“Between birth and the 72 hours when they signed over their parental rights, they could have changed their minds,” Kathleen said. “And we had Piper at that point, we had her from when she was 40 minutes old. The thought that we could lose her was absolutely terrifying. I don’t think either of us slept. We knew her birth parents were confident in their decision to place Piper, but that didn’t take away our fear.”

Kathleen got the text from Piper’s birth father on the 16th at 7:46pm. It read, “We signed the consent forms, it’s official.”

“Both Tyler and I broke down into ugly tears. We could finally breathe, we could finally tell people. We could share her, and that was huge. We finally slept that night. We were a family.”

Once the birth parents signed the papers, the two states involved – Washington and Arizona – must agree to let the Mittleiders return to home. On January 19th, six days after Piper was born, Arizona approved Piper to go home, but Washington was still not ready for them.

They decided to drive to avoid flying during peak flu season and also to give Washington enough time to approve them crossing the state line. Finally, on January 23rd at 11:00am, they were able to leave Oregon and go home. The next challenge? Introducing this new human to their two Boston Terriers.

George and Winnie have differing opinions on the new baby. George adores his littlest sister with all of his little heart. Winnie is confused that there’s a new baby girl in the house and is frustrated that it isn’t her. The Mittleiders hope the girls will get along when Piper and Winnie are able to play together.

We had our session in their home about two weeks after Piper was born and just a few days after they all came home. Everyone was settling into their new roles and learning what it’s like to be a family of 5.

“As we approach her 1st birthday I think every day what it was like last year. How we told our friends and family – and how we truly believed it would take upwards of two years to become parents. And how different our actual story was,” Kathleen said. “It’s incredible to me. Piper’s birth mom became pregnant in April of 2017; the month we went active with our agency. It was just meant to be.”

 

 

Picking a location – PNW Photographer

UPDATED 5/28/20 to add more locations and additional photos to show favorite spots!


Locations can be a part of your portrait story, not just a pretty backdrop. I like to give you the option to choose where we have your portrait session for a few reasons:

  • You’re comfortable where you are and it shows in your photographs.
  • You recall and create meaningful memories with each person in your family in a space that you’ve been to before.
  • You know where things are, how to get there, and what to do!

But if you don’t have a preference on a location and you’d rather I decide or if you’re from out of town, I’ve compiled a brief list of locations around Tacoma with photos and descriptions to help you decide where you want to tell your story. Keep in mind that we are not limited to these locations! I’m willing and able to shoot anywhere! The only thing that may limit us is admission, fees or photography permits such as conservatories or private gardens.

Point Defiance Park, Tacoma

Perfect in any season. The changing colors of autumn leaves by the pond make a beautiful backdrop. So many Tacoma families have fond memories of watching the ducks and walking the paths of Point Defiance Park. In the spring and summertime, the blooming roses and arches give an intimate feel. Even in the wintertime, the bare, twisty branches in the rose garden can offer a dark and mysterious vibe.

GironFamily2018_001StradleyFamily2017_020CoutsouridisFamily2017_027hurleyoct2016_020

Discovery Park, Seattle

While quite a trek from Tacoma, Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle is one of my favorite locations to shoot. It faces the west, giving us the much desired golden and blue hour dreamy feel. This park has it all: forest, beach, tall grass, buildings painted butter yellow, and even a lighthouse with a trail access. If you don’t mind walking, this is 534 acre park is a gorgeous choice.

RachelleMaternity2017_054_1MickFamily2017_0018MickFamily2017_0011

Chambers Bay Park & Beach, University Place

One of the most interesting parks near Tacoma is Chambers Bay. Formerly a sand and gravel quarry, the park’s large skeletal concrete structures separate the park from the golf course and line a trail leading to the bridge and a beach below.

ArringtonFamily2018_042HatcherFamily2019_009
ArringtonFamily2018_031ArringtonFamily2018_100

Swan Creek Park, Tacoma

Hidden where Pioneer Way and Waller Road meet in Tacoma, Swan Creek Park is a quiet little swimming hole surrounded by trees. You might want to bring a towel because shoes are bound to come off. There are trails and little bridges to explore as well.

DuCharme_Maternity2017_013Creek_100.jpgGibsonFamily2018_046DuCharme_Maternity2017_064

Wright Park, Tacoma (conservatory + fee)

Like Point Defiance, Wright Park is gorgeous in all seasons. The yellow leaves of the ginkgo tree brighten up the park even on the darkest days. The conservatory fee is only $25/30 minutes which is so worth paying (it’s for a good cause, too!) if you love plants and need an indoor location. The 27-acre arboretum has lots of beautiful spots to sit and enjoy being with your family.

MollyIth2018_158PHyatt2019_0012Kris&Arie2019_005EPierce2019_234GomezNov2016_011

Downtown Tacoma/Urban/City

(Opera Alley, steps of UW, glass bridge & museum, former “Graffiti Garages”)

Tacoma’s downtown area is so unique and interesting. Urban sessions aren’t just for individuals. Documentary sessions or even Lifestyle sessions can take place in the city. If nature is not your thing, let’s explore the town!

HyattD2018_051WendlandtB2018_100DeFlitch_Dec2016_008Guerrero_Dec2015_019

Home & Neighborhood

There’s no place like home. You know your family best and where they would feel most comfortable. I love just sitting on your front porch or hanging out in bed.

Megan&Thom_ENG2018_070BWCH6B0300GustafsonMini2018_026NDBoudie009DuCharme_Newborn2017_039CarrDocu2018_042CarrDocu2018_101JamesFPP_017

Ft. Steilacoom Park, Lakewood

Fort Steilacoom Park has so much to offer with the old barns, winding trails through the trees, a lake view, and tall grass. I recently took a family there to watch the sun come up over Mt. Rainier and it was spectacular! The best times at this park are early mornings or late evenings.

PotterFamily2019_088PotterFamily2019_067PotterFamily2019_049BWPotterFamily2019_006

Wild Hearts Farm (+fee)

A local family designed their property specifically for photographers and clients. With options like tire swings and wooden swings, an old truck, a vintage trailer, gardens with ever changing flowers and a natural light, rain free dome, they’ve made endless possibilities.

cropped-whf002.jpgcropped-whf004.jpgWHF007WHF006CDBoudie19_008

Restaurants, Coffee Shops, Stores, Libraries

Do you have a favorite restaurant? Have you ever wanted to document your every day life shopping at Target or Costco? It takes a little more planning and permission from the manager, but these sessions are often so much more relaxed and personal.

Megan&Thom_ENG2018_086Megan&Thom_ENG2018_076BWPHyatt2019_0115T&D_Engagement_074Kris&Arie2019_033

Want to go on an adventure? There are places I’ve always wanted to take my sessions. Do you have ideas?

Ferries

Gig Harbor Gondola

Mountain Trails

Waterfalls

Carnivals/Fairs

Orchards

Central Washington/Columbia River/Vantage

DuCharme Newborn Session (new baby package, pt 3) – Tacoma Newborn Photographer

 

Bringing a new baby home can only be described as an out-of-body experience. There are so many questions that run through new parents’ heads: Is this really happening? Am I doing it right? Are we allowed to actually have this baby here? At our house? By ourselves? Where’s the nurse? Is. This. Really. OUR. Person? What do we do now? Should I sleep?

The questions continue.

It takes a few weeks for the mind to return to the body. You know, once the nerves calm, the deliriousness subsides (a little), and the house gets into a rhythm and routine.

When I visited the DuCharmes for a home newborn session, it was a week and a half after Roman was born. They were just easing into their bodies again. The house was calm and quiet, but there were still some questions and uncertainty hanging around. Like I said, it takes a few weeks to make a new normal. Even for the cat.

Thank you to Katie and Keith DuCharme for opening up their lives to me and allowing me to photograph this fantastic new chapter as parents.