Hey everyone! I can never help myself and I want to do a year in review post (even though the year in review happens to be 2020). But I think it's important to take a good look at where you've been in order to figure out where you want to go.
January and February of 2020 were mostly spent at home surviving on maternity leave. In March, when I originally planned to pick up sessions again is when the world effectively shut down (and then continued to open, close, reopen partially, etc.) This generally resulted in the majority of this year's sessions being shot outside. Here's a glimpse of some of my 2021 projects.
But fortunately in early March I did get to squeeze in a day of boudoir minis before and I photographed several BEAUTIFUL ladies at the Hive House in St. Paul.
In early May, I held Mommy and Me minis and it felt like a great way to segue back into shooting and a new season.
Speak of new things, people continued to request newborn photos from me even though I really don't specialize in newborn photography. I do think I'm continually getting better at it though! Back in April, I even made a little tutorial video about how to shoot your own newborn photos at home during the initial stay-at-home orders.
This summer I also got to photograph some newly-turned 18-year-olds in the name of senior photos!
There were a few engagement sessions in the mix too. Good thing for love, right? I feel so heartened just by looking at these photos and remembering how sweet it was to watch these couples interact with each other.
I'm so in love with so many of the sessions I had this summer. I utilized the glowy fields and long grass at Willow River whenever possible, My other go-to spot was Lake Elmo Regional Park.
My fall sessions had an array of vibes. There were some gorgeous colors to be found, especially at Homestead Parklands. My day of mini sessions at Tamrack Nature Center was nearly canceled due to blizzard conditions. And somehow, I only had perfect days when I traveled to the west metro to shoot at Burwell Park.
I ended the year with tree farm minis at Willow River Company. It was a blessedly warm day (which meant people weren't red and shivering) and I love how every session turned out!
Last, but not least, I shot 5 covers for Hudson Neighbors Magazine in 2020!
I'm approaching 2021 with cautious optimism. I'm keeping my plans and dreams big but my feet on the ground. Things to look for in 2021: a WHOLE rebrand, more boudoir, new session packages, and the same me, but I like to believe that I get better with age. And I also believe that nothing good happens without hard work and a top notch network of support. And I gotta say, I know I have both!
Happy New Year once more friends!
I am absolutely delighted that I was still able to hold holiday mini sessions this year! I photographed nine families on a warm November day (like 50 degrees warm!) at Willow River Company in Hudson. Here are a few peeks from each session.
I took Mallory and RJ's engagment photos four years ago at a tree farm and it felt like a great way to come full circle to photograph them with little Gigi (and little boy on the way!)
Anderson family photos were extra special this year because grandparents got to come along!
Tricia and Jake brought their boys plus new puppy Lando! We got some very cute shots as well as some very real life moments.
The Schmidt family is incredibly sweet. I especially loved their idea to incorporate some Christmas story reading at the tree farm!
Tim and his girls were pure joy to photograph. I'm so glad I got to meet them and I hope to work together again in the future!
Another set of new clients! The McDonough came with a sweet set of sisters and so much fun energy! Please, let's book again for 2021!
I feel like this family needs no introduction since I see Kayla and Jeremy pretty frequently. But I'm still not over how beautifully their sweet family photographs!
The Woodruffs! They are my jam year after year and I'm so thrilled they continue to sign up with me.
The Warner's and I have also done photos together for three years in a row. They are a piece of cake to photograph and I love the excuse of sessions to see their family.
That just about wraps up my 2020. These sessions were a lovely note to end the year on. I absolutely hope to see all of you again in 2021!
Moving forward, I am recommitting myself to writing featured client blog posts, yay! I absolutely love highlighting the clients that made my business what it is today by supporting me from the very beginning, before I had any idea of what I was doing.
Today I'm going to go down memory lane with the Ehrich family (parents are Alissa and Myron and kiddos Henry and Claire). I've been friends with Alissa for 11 years and our first session together was in 2013... so 7 years ago! Alissa so kindly shared feedback about what it's been like working together.
"I actually don’t LOVE having my picture taken but you have such a talent at not only making everyone feel at ease but at creating such perfect movements and expressions - I’ve yet to see one where I think “oh geez, I look SO awkward”."
(These first images are from our very first shoot together at the Minneapolis Institute of Art)
"My absolute favorite was the newborn session you did with Claire Bear. Not only did her pictures turn out so beautifully but you captured one photo of all four of us together. It was the same day that I felt...complete? I can’t totally describe it (although I’m sure other parents can relate) but I had already begun to feel like this was what our family was meant to be. And I can still vividly remember and feel my exhaustion, physical discomfort from a difficult labor & delivery, the puffiness in my face but also the intense love and bliss I had been feeling in those first few days after she was born. And now I’m choked up writing this."
I love visiting and seeing their photos up on the wall! I asked her more about her design process.
"I like to display our photos as a gallery wall. It’s currently taken down, actually, as I need to rearrange and add to it. So it’s constantly changing... just like we are as a family; always evolving! Oh, and both of the kids have a couple of framed photos in their bedrooms that they chose - they both really adore having these pictures in their rooms that, as Henry told me, make them “feel like they have the best family” Alissa says.
I asked her about the thing a lot of us mamas struggle with on picture day... HOW do you get your family on board and cooperating for a session?
"As far as kids or husband cooperating? We’ve had uncooperative weather (the MIA shoot was supposed to be all outdoors! And Willow River had snow!), very uncooperative kids (Henry wanted to sit out on the willow river session because he was mad about who-knows-what on the way there) and Myron and I were actually deep in a newish-parent spat when we showed up for our very first session with you at the MIA.
BUT. something about these sessions feels... healing? Each time, whatever the problem was at the beginning of the session seemed insignificant or, in the case of the snow and cold at Willow River, like a happy little accident. There’s just something about having to cuddle with one another, gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes to create that perfect shot, or giggle to get that awesome laughing pic that cleanses you, you know? Family Photo Therapy- it needs to be a thing. ;-)"
Above is our most recent session together taken in 2019 at Willow River. I love seeing the evolution of their family, the evolution of my shooting and editing, and the evolution of Alissa's hair. Basically, it's the coolest to have photo archives of my family and friends growing and becoming lovelier as the years go on.
Alissa, thank you for your incredibly kind words and for being a steadfast supporter of my business as well as a friend for life. Can't wait until we can reunite!
Last month I photographed Tom and Alexandra's backyard wedding in Hudson. I only covered for 1.5 hours but I feel like we captured the day, the details, and the emotion in that short amount of time. Weddings these days may be small, but the love is still so big.
Tom and Alex have been together for a long time and there's definitely a great love and ease between them. I'm so excited for their growing family and truly happy that they were able to celebrate their wedding in such a lovely and meaningful way this year.
So, this year has been a ride, to put it politely. Things are no where near "normal" yet and I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to be. However, I am trying very hard to see life through the lens of gratitude.
June and July this year was the first time this year my business felt like it was, well, approaching business as usual.
Between having our new baby Archer in the beginning of this year and Covid shutting down businesses and shutting us in this spring, it felt AMAZING to meet up with clients again this summer. I shot 16 sessions the past two months (small groups, nearly all outdoors, and touching no one).
Here is ONE shot from each session this summer.
Kristen and Justin's engagement session at Willow River. SWOON!
Carl's one-year photos and cake smash session at Tamarack Nature Center.
Such a cutie!!!
Recital photos for The Dancing House students.
Note to self, must photograph MORE dancers!
Reece's one year pics and stylish, socially distanced 1st Bee Day Party.
The darling Esbjornsson family, now a party of 5!
Baby Oliver's newborn photos at Birkmose Park.
Stella, Norman, and baby Wallace. The most adorable set of siblings!
A mother-daughters session with Lacy, Abigail, and Bailey.
One of the sweetest sessions I've ever shot.
Grabbed a little golden hour magic at Willow River for Aly and Stephen's engagement session!
Met my longtime friend Marla and her family for some outdoor newborn-ish pics for their new girl Madison!
I also met up with the Horner family to get some family pics and fresh photos of their precious new arrival Claire.
Brekayla was such a good sport/fabulous model as we took her senior photos in downtown Hudson.
This is my boo Sara Capecchi and her family, also shot in downtown Hudson. Love, love, love these guys!
While my nephew Cameron was in town visiting from Texas, we managed to squeeze in senior photos for him too!
I also shot a beautiful backyard wedding ceremony for Alexandra and Tom here in Hudson, More to come!
Lastly, I shot an extended family session for one of my favorite longtime clients, the Massee/ Miller family.
Well, it's been a lovely ease back into business. I'm gearing up for the volume of sessions to more than double in the coming months which is a crazy (and good) thing!
I've been trying to think of new ways, big and small, to show appreciation for my many rockstar clients who have been with me from the beginning when I was shyly portfolio building... those who believed in me before I really believed in myself!
One thing I'll be doing is featuring one of my longtime clients in a their own blog post each month.
The Andersons were one of the first families who came to mind when I initially arrived at this idea. I've known Kristina and Tony for FIFTEEN years, I first met Kristina in 2005 at the U of M when she encouraged me to try out for the Gopher Hockey cheer team. Being part of the team shaped my college years and my life!
Years after college we still remained connected. When I first began portfolio building, she was one of the first people who reached out to me for photos and we've shot a huge variety of sessions together since then.
Even though we've known each other forever, I still asked Kristina to describe her family in her own words.
"We are a hardworking, silly, fun-loving family of 4 (6 if you include the pups). We are usually busy doing some sort of DIY/house project or outside working on the yard. We have a 1300 sq ft vegetable garden, so that takes up a good chunk of time too. We are a family focused on health and fitness (which also includes sporadic family dance parties - thanks to Alexa)." says Kristina
This first set of photos is from my most recent session with her family: Reece's First Bee Day celebration. It was smaller from previous parties I have attended at theAnderson house because of Covid, but still ever-so-sweet and thoughtfully planned with social distancing in mind but also plenty of charming bee décor and treats plus guests joining the party virtually.
It was a bee-utiful day and it warmed my heart to be part of something joyful "normal" this summer.
Now I'm going to throw it back to the good ol' days before all of the six feet apart business to when I first started portfolio building with the Andersons.
Addie was one of my very first baby and toddler models. She was so sweet and precious and still is.
(Addie's 3rd birthday party)
(Addie's 4th birthday party)
(And Addie's 5th birthday)
Over the years, I've been asked to attend and photograph Addie's (and most recently Reece's) birthdays! As you can see, Kristina is a party planning wizard and every celebration I've attended is such a pleasure to be a part of. It's like Pinterest, but way better since it's real. (My kids have even been able to attend some parties and they would whole-heartedly agree!). What's wonderful about these jobs is that it's such a win-win-win. This type of candid event documentation is probably my favorite type of photography plus if I'm taking care of the pictures, it frees up Kristina more to be present at the party.
"I'm always so busy running around hosting the event that I don't always get to SEE and enjoy everything that came together. You always do such an amazing job of capturing the day, the details that I spend so much time on, and the guests/friends/family. It allows me to go through the albums and EXPERIENCE the event as our friends and family did. I frequently go back to old birthday parties in my phone albums and just scroll through, looking at the party that took months to plan, looking at everyone's faces - it's so fun, I love it!" says Kristina.
The Andersons have also gotten in on the holiday mini sessions I began offering three years ago. It's at this point in the blog post that the question must be asked... What is her method of of styling everyone? How does one family manage to look so festive and incredibly put together?
"I start like 2 months out because I don't want to spend an arm-and-a-leg, I look for good deals on Poshmark for Tony and myself, and for the kids, I usually buy from a handmade shop (on Instagram). To be honest, the whole family coordination is usually based on a dress that I first find for Addie - haha!
Once I find the token piece (whomever it ends up being for), I build the rest of the outfits around it/to compliment it." Kristina says.
Kristina has also been able to attend some of my Mother's Day mini sessions as well which I'm so glad about. We mamas are almost always taking photos but are hardly ever in them! Plus, it's just dang difficult during the hustle of every day life to hand off your phone to someone else to take a picture of you and your kids! Her littles do so well with pictures so I asked what her secret/bribe/strategy is.
"I try to make sure to pick a time of day when the kids aren't whining/cranky (aka nap time), and we usually make the photo shoot a "fun thing" for the day -- we all get ready together in the morning and we usually plan something fun afterwards, like going out for dinner. These days it would probably be picking up some ice cream and heading home for a nice treat as a family. That makes it an anticipated and fun thing for the kids and hubby too! " she explains.
One of the most special sessions I've ever shot in my life was Reece's Fresh 48 session in the summer of 2019. I suppose it could have been called a "Fresh 2" because he was only two hours old when Kristina and Tony had me come to the hospital. There is something so sacred and soul-soothing about being in the presence of a freshly born baby and his parents. I'll remember this session forever!
Just a couple months later I attended and photographed Reece's baptism which was a sweet and special day! It was also a little nerve-wracking being in front of an entire congregation taking pictures, but I figured it out!
Lastly, Kristina and I have done a few fitness photo shoots together and she was able to use the images for various marketing purposes.
For as long as I've known Kristina, she has been incredibly passionate about health, fitness, and helping people. After many years of working as a coach for the U of M Spirit Squads, she's embarked on a new exciting path as a Beachbody coach! Give her Instagram a follow! She's warm, real, seriously knowledgeable, and very inspiring!
I guess the only thing she and I haven't done lately is get an updated picture of the two of us together! I told you we go way back! Let's make that happen next time we have a shoot.
Thank you again, Kristina for always asking me to document the big and little moments, for sharing my work, for motivating me, and referring friends and family to me. Thank you for being patient over the years as I developed my own shooting and editing style, learned how to pose people, and how to smoothly run a business. You are a dream client but also a wind-beneath-my-wings bud and your unwavering support and friendship is truly a gift.
I was thinking lately if I had to just choose only a few different outdoor spots for photo sessions, I definitely have some clear favorites. So, today I'm listing out my top three favorite places to take photos in the Twin Cities.
Depending on the season, area, and time of day, photos taken at these locations can look drastically different.
The first one is Willow River State Park in Hudson. If you've ever been, you know that it's a massive park. The waterfall area is gorgeous as you can see from the two photos above. But there are lots of other great areas to shoot!
This grassy areas and field near the campgrounds is one of my favorite spots. I love that you can see dark pines in the back and I love the grass stalks that add texture and whimsy.
This big, endless looking prairie is just yards away from the green grassy area. You'd never know that those two spots are so close together and provide two totally different looks!
Lake Elmo Park Reserve is another go-to of mine in spring or fall.
The birch trees, the vibrant fall colors and well as the gentle light greens in the spring make for gorgeous photos, no matter the season.
But also look check out how Lake Elmo photographs in late summer!
Dreamy, dreamy, dreamy. I joke about enlarging these clients' photos over my fireplace. I haven't done it... yet.
In and around The Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum in Minneapolis is one more frequently visited venue by me. Between the glossy blue building, the backdrop of the city and the ruins, it's extremely versatile and a perfect location for family photos, engagement pics, or branding and headshot photography.
Oh man, I thought I was cool when I managed a mirror selfie in this area a couple years ago.
This spring I met with James and Sessahly to take their engagement photos in Osceola, Wi at Cascade Falls. I had previously met Sessahly a couple of years ago at one of my Mommy & Me mini sessions. I was so thrilled when she reached out to let me know she was engaged and wanted me to take photos for her and James.
The morning we shot at the falls was COLD, but I asked them to move and hug a lot which I think (I hope?) helped!
I absolutely love how their session turned out! All the little details, like the glimpses of tattoos, the way Sessahly's hair perfectly swooshes around, the glimmer of her engagement ring, and how adoringly these two gaze at each other, give me goosebumps!
Congrats again, you guys, on your engagement! I foresee a beautiful wedding and a life full of love and happiness ahead of you two!
Due to the stay-at-home orders in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I wasn't able to get out and shoot much as I would have liked this spring. However, outdoor photography in Wisconsin has been allowed for the past couple weeks and I was able to announce and book a few Mommy and Me mini sessions before Mother's Day this year. I offered less spots than normal and allowed for a 10 minute time window between clients, touched no one, withheld hugs, but still managed to get a lot of shots for each family.
My first session of the day was for Melissa and her five kids. Melissa is my friend, business coach, and dance teacher who also owns and runs a studio in Hudson. I'm always happy to take any kind of photos for her... be it for family or for business purposes. She shines from the inside out and has made it her life's work to help other's shine their light too. Really, I could do a blog post someday on just Melissa!
Speak of people who will probably get their own future blog post... my friend Kristina! My next session was for her and her daughter Addie and son Reece. It warmed my heart to be able to see each other and I loved documenting all the thoughtful details they brought to the table, everything from Addie's elegant hair, to Reece's little suspenders, Most importantly, I loved catching all of the love an affection between this bunch. Truly, my heart swells just looking at these pictures.
Katie and her kids Amelia and Everett were next! The last time I had taken photos for their family, Amelia was much tinier and Katie was pregnant with Everett. It was so cool to see how their family had grown and how much these kids adored their mama.
Camille and her incredibly photogenic bunch was next. I'm still not quite over how sweet her kids were or how perfectly styled everyone was too! Just from looking at these photos, I feel like their family vehicle probably has the aroma of peonies and no one yells or complains...
(My car on the other hand smells like McDonald's and everyone is deliberately poking each other and whining after we've been in the car for five minutes.)
Next up was Lindsay and her beautiful daughter Elsa. This was their first photo shoot and not something I took lightly! They were absolutely delightful and Elsa is basically a real-life doll. I definitely hope to do more photos for them in the future.
Lastly, I took photos of Kayla and her boys. (We also took full family photos too with dad, but for the sake of consistency, he's not in this blog post. Sorry, Jeremy!) I took maternity photos for Kayla in the fall and it was so cool to now see little Vinnie on the outside and to also finally meet big bro Liam.
So there you have Mommy and Me 2020! It was a little smaller, a little quieter, but still absolutely special. Happy Mother's Day to all these beautiful mamas and EVERY mama out there!
Months later, I am still swooning over Matt and Mary's Dia de los Muertos themed wedding that took place last fall at Next Chapter Winery in New Prague. They had actually been officially married over the summer but chose to have a bigger celebration later in the year. There were so many unique and downright wonderful things elements at this reception. First of all, their three dogs were in attendance, but those weren't the only furry friends. They had invited Second Hand Hounds to make an appearance to give exposure to the organization. What did that mean? There were PUPPIES AT THE WEDDING for the cuddling! So let me just recap, puppies, endless tacos, wine, dancing and love overflowing throughout. Is it weird to want to go back and relive someone else's wedding day? Because I would do it in a heartbeat!
I wish so much love and happiness for these two. This celebration was perfection and I hope they have joy like this always.
Welcome to my photography blog!
Rachel again! Here's where you'll be able to find blog posts about all things photography: recent sessions, upcoming events, and just fun musings on photography in general. Can't wait to fill 'er up with content!