Hatcher & Ngauamo Family — Tacoma Family Lifestyle Photographer

Last year, Gina found my post advertising for Modern School Portraits when she was working at a local preschool and looking for a new photographer. I’ve been their Picture Day photographer for two years and the school is now my biggest client. I’m so grateful that we connected!

Then earlier this year I sent out a model call looking for diverse Tacoma families to add to my portfolio and she responded with an exciting request. She and her husband, Moses, wanted to surprise their 6-year-old with some news. They had already told their daughter, Kayden, that they were expecting a baby in September… but what they didn’t tell her is how many babies! See if you can guess…

Gina brought the ultrasound pictures in an envelope and had Kayden open it during our session. Her reaction was priceless! I’m so glad I was there to document it!


She facepalmed when she found out all three are BOYS!

 

 

Coleman + Marshall Wedding — PNW Wedding Photographer

Early Spring of last year, Cameron messaged me on Facebook to ask me if I’d be the photographer for his wedding with Annie scheduled for October. They’re good friends of mine and our kids went to preschool together, so I couldn’t pass it up! “It’s going to be a surprise,” he said. “Annie doesn’t know about it.”

*record scratch* What?!

Cameron planned this gorgeous wedding with the help of his and Annie’s families and she had no idea until 5 minutes before she arrived at the venue. To a farm. By helicopter. He called it “Operation White Wedding” and he successfully pulled off one of the best surprises I’ve ever been a part of.

They had been planning to get married for a while. She even picked out a dress. Two dresses, actually. Sometime later in October, they were going to head to Mexico where they figured — or so Annie thought — that they’d tie the knot. Only that’s not what happened.

Cameron booked the venue at Willapa Hills Farm, the caterer, the photographer (moi), the officiant (a friend), the band (Annie’s sister’s former band), invited the guests, arranged for the flowers. All of it. And it was perfect.

That morning, they drove to Seattle where they hopped in a helicopter for a day date and a tour of the Puget Sound. But when they started flying south and couldn’t see the Sound, she started to wonder. At about 2:00pm, they flew over the Willapa Hills Farm where she saw a bunch of people below and that’s when he asked her:
“Do you want to get married? Now? Today?”
“What?!” she said. “I mean, yes! Wait… what?”

She recognized a few cars in the parking lot and then it hit her. OH, I’M GETTING MARRIED. TODAY!

The pilot landed the helicopter and Cameron helped her out. Their two kids ran to embrace them and they greeted their soon-to-be wedding guests. Everyone knew this for months, except for the bride.

She got ready in a small building off the side of the barn where her dress, shoes, makeup, hair, and Spanx were set for her. Yes, he even remembered the Spanx.

Annie’s brother on guitar and sister on violin played music as they walked down the aisle where Cameron and Annie said their vows in a clearing by the river surrounded by friends and family. The party continued with live music from Annie’s favorite band, dancing, amazing food and beer from a local brewery.

If anyone could have pulled off a surprise this fantastic, it was Cameron. And there’s no other bride who could have acceded with such grace as Annie. They make the perfect match.

 

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.”

 

 

Tree Farm Mini-Sessions Day 2 – PNW Family Photographer

Day 2 of the Tree Farm Mini-Session was just as great as Day 1! These sweet families braved the frosty air and celebrated each other with love. May you all have a joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year! 💖💖💖

Thank you for spending your day with me and my camera!

Tree Farm Mini-Sessions Day 1 – PNW Family Photographer

This was my third year doing tree farm mini-sessions and for the third year in a row, we had beautiful weather. It was cold, but the sun was shining and everyone was great spirits! (The hot cocoa and cider helped warm them up a bit.) This year we were at the Glenwood Tree Farm in Tacoma, a wedding venue during summer and tree farm for Christmas. The family that owns the farm is so sweet and gracious for letting a bunch of photographers and our clients use their land! 

I had so much fun seeing returning families and meeting new ones. I can’t wait to do this again next year. I do hope to see everyone again. It’s always great to see how much the children have grown!

So to start off this photo blog of Tree Farm Mini-Sessions Day 1, I am sharing my BFF Jessi and her boyfriend Andy in their matching onesie pajamas and their puppers Isla. Don’t they look amazing?!

Thank you to everyone that joined me in the trees this year! YOU are amazing! Happy Holidays!

 

 

Would you be interested in doing Mom & Child Spring Minis in the flowers? E-mail me!

What to Wear: A Session Clothing Guide – PNW Portrait Photographer

Okay, you’ve sent your photography inquiry. You’ve scheduled your session for 4 weeks out and double checked to made sure your spouse isn’t working that day. You’ve paid your deposit. You’ve checked the weather Almanac SEVERAL times. It’s been raining the past five years, but that’s okay, it was partly sunny in 1967. You’re standing in front of your closet and you STILL don’t know what to wear and your session is next week.

Not only do you have to pick out your own outfit, but your spouse hasn’t bought a new shirt since that one wedding how many summers ago and your kids’ clothes all have raspberry stains from eating all the berries off the plant in the backyard. (It was a fruitful year.)

Don’t worry! A quick (HAH!) trip to Target will provide you with coordinated outfits making you look (and feel) like rock stars.

 

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For a little nudge in the right direction, I’ve put together a few tips to help you choose your outfits. These work for families, engagements, and seniors.

 

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Decide on a palette of 3-4 colors to base your outfit on (including pants and dresses). You want a cohesive feel, but without being too matchy. You want your outfits to compliment each other. Please, no solid white shirts with khaki pants. Don’t even think about black polos with jeans. It’s outdated… like 2002. And try not to put all the males in plaid. It starts to look a like a Magic Eye.

 

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I always suggest that the women to choose outfits she feels confident and beautiful in and then have everyone’s outfit coordinate from there. It’s easier to start with one item or color and build from there.

 

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Long dresses flow elegantly in the wind and look amazing on every body type.

 

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Layer your clothing to add texture and dimension to your outfits. Include a belt or necklace or if its cooler out, don a scarf or sweater cardigan.

 

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First and foremost: be you. For example, I love earrings so I would wear big feather earrings and a few bracelets. Do you love hats? Bring one (but don’t wear it, yet). Does your family love boots? Wear them!

 

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Arrange your outfits ahead of time. Lay all of them out on a big bed in natural window light including accessories . Make sure all clothes are clean, pressed, and ready to go on hangers a few days before your session.

 

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Avoid: T-shirts with large graphics, neon colors, tube socks, overly formal clothes, and dirty shoes (unless they’re boots, in which that’s okay). I don’t recommend high heels either. We’re likely going to be outside walking or playing.

 

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Ladies: Pamper yourself by getting your hair styled and makeup done before the session. Makeup should be natural but slightly heavier than normal. I recommend hiring a Make Up Artist. I work with a few MUAs that also do basic hair (curls/waves). For make up and hairstylist recommendations, contact me!

 

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Men: Plan a haircut for a week or so before. Shave the night before or in the morning and put on aftershave to reduce redness and irritation. Cut and clean your fingernails.

 

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Large groups have a little bit of a challenge, but as long as you stick with the above tips, you’ll all look amazing!

 

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If you are needing ideas, I suggest looking at Pinterest to find inspiration. Find my Pinterest page @foxandwagon and click on Session Wardrobe Ideas. I’ve also created an outfit shopping list on Amazon so you can buy online right away.

 

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You can always text me with pictures of your outfits if you’re concerned!

 

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It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to decide what to wear for your portrait session. It does take a little bit of planning, but as long as you wear something that you feel good in, you’ll look good.

Still have no idea what to wear? I have a few dresses and a top in my Client Closet to choose from. I will update as soon as I get someone to model them!

Norbe Family Documentary Session – Gig Harbor Family Photographer

Rose was going back and forth trying to decide between my Lifestyle session or Documentary Session. Then she said, “I really just don’t want to pose.” That resolved it.

I visited the Norbe family at their waterfront home in Gig Harbor. Their property faces Fox Island and gets some pretty amazing views. Rose and Ben love taking their two girls Stevie and Neve on the beach to collect shells and rocks. Their nanny joined us and chatted with the girls about touching clear jellyfish, not the orange ones.

Ben built a fire and they shared s’mores, but I think Neve preferred eating just the chocolate. Same, Neve. Same.

With the documentary sessions, I am hands off. I’m there to capture your every day, playing and loving each other. Some families share a meal, enjoy the beach, have a campfire. Documentary is the realness and rawness of life.

Gustafson Family – University Place Family Photographer

Melissa is a busy mom with two busy girls and a busy husband. She knew her family couldn’t hold on for my full hour session at a park somewhere, so she requested a short, in-home session. I. Love! It. She knows her family’s limits and didn’t want to push it.

I met the Gustafson’s at their beautiful University Place home. They’re near the end of rebuilding the house and Melissa wanted some updated photos to hang on her new walls. We started out on their couch where the family likes to hang out and talk about their day. The girls love their daddy so much. Though he doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve, Ryan’s affection for the ladies in his life peeked out a little bit during my time with them.

We ended our 20 minute session on the bed with some sweet family snuggles.

Picking a location – PNW Photographer

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 complied 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 almost 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Wright Park, Tacoma

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. While photographing inside the Conservatory is a no-go without a permit, there are no restrictions for hanging outside in the gazebo. The 27-acre arboretum has lots of beautiful spots to sit and enjoy being with your family.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Ferries

Mountain Trails

Waterfalls

Carnivals/Fairs

Orchards

Central Washington/Columbia River/Vantage

Schmick Family – Olympia Family Photographer

When a car is part of a family, it’s only proper to include it in a family session.

Elisa, her husband Aaron, their 3-year-old daughter Lyla, Aaron’s Shelby Mustang and I met up at West Bay Park in Olympia for a family session. Elisa asked me if I could get some shots of them with Aaron’s new Mustang. I was a little hesitant only because I wish I had a different lens to fully capture the car and all it’s shininess. Despite only having a prime lens, it turned out pretty good! My goal was to photograph the people first. 🙂

 

Elisa is a super talented hair stylist at Glamour Salon in Tumwater, WA. She does AMAZING color work and is so sweet! Check out her website: Hair by Elisa Mae and follow her on Instagram @hairbyelisamae.