a tropical bridal shoot

hen I found out we were going to Hawai'i, I got excited about wearing pretty summery dresses and as I was shopping around for some dresses to wear, I happened upon this one.  It was too fancy to be a casual sundress, but I thought it'd look perfect in Hawai'i and got the idea to pull together a fun little faux bridal photoshoot.  I wanted to have some tropical wedding photos in my portfolio because it's be pretty dang rad to travel to a tropical location to shoot a wedding.  Right where I did the shoot there are actually real weddings all the time!  I saw at least three weddings on the beach at the same spot where these shots were taken!  I can't blame people, It's so gorgeous, especially right at sunset.  We spent every sunset down at the beach with a drink in hand and watch the sun dip into the ocean.  

I wanted an ethereal and a little bit vintage vibe, but with a tropical twist.  I made the bouquet from $28 worth of flowers from Safeway and masking tape, the crown is one I made this summer and brought with me.   The dress is from ModCloth and I had it altered to fit me just right (and short girls, take note!  I didn't cut any length off, so I think it might be intended as a tea length, but it was the perfect length for my 5'1" frame when I was barefoot).  I knew I'd still have green hair, which didn't fit the look I was going for, so I took my black curly wig, added some curled extensions and it was perfect!  It's funny to think that the last time I was in Hawai'i this is what my real hair looked like!



The dress is actually a bit of a light tan/nude color, and I loved how it matched the sand and how it glowed when the evening sun filtered through it!  With my black hair matching the volcanic rocks and the dress matching the sand, I unintentionally matched my location pretty well!

Since the trip was kind of our anniversary vacation, it was fun to get all "brided up" again and feel fancy.  I think women should be able to get fancy more often, especially us grown up ladies.  I mean, you have prom or homecoming as a teen and then a wedding, but after that there aren't a ton of opportunities to get super fancy.  And I think sometimes we feel self centered or vain getting dolled up, but I say screw that.  You're allowed to feel pretty and get done up if it makes you feel awesome.  I have a friend in Tacoma who does amazing boudoir shoots and I love how it makes her clients feel like bombshells.   I think we sometimes need more glamour in our lives, and if your life isn't full of glamour naturally (which is where most of us exist, I imagine), you gotta make your own!

Something that I love about burlesque's influence on my life is that it's made me love wigs even more.  The other night I was going out to a show in Seattle with my burly-gals and I had zero time to make my hair do anything cute, so I just grabbed this wig, gave it a little twist into a side ponytail type thing, slapped on a Swarovski headband and I was ready to go!  The cheap wigs you get at the thrift store for Halloween aren't what you want, though.  Invest in one or two higher quality wigs and you're good to go!  The extensions I put in this one were a lot straighter than the curls of wig, so I just wet them down, put them in perm rods overnight until the hair was totally dry and voilĂ !  They perfectly matched the curl of the wig.  I'm eventually going back to black for my real hair color, so I think I might grab myself a redhead wig to keep me from wanting to dye my hair again!


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how to create scrumptious food photos

ood photography is something that I've become more passionate about in the last couple years.  I'd even venture to say that it's quickly become one of my favorite branches of photography, and not just because I get to chow down on whatever I just shot.  I'd say that for me, food photography is more about food styling than the act of clicking the shutter.  Most of my food shoots are done in the same location with the same lighting set up, but it's the styling that makes them interesting.  Unlike portraits, you can really control food photography very precisely and you can usually take as much time as you need to get the right shot, as long as you aren't shooting something that will quickly melt.  There are a few basics to keep in mind when shooting food that will boost your food photos to the next level.

Unless you're experienced in shooting with off camera lighting set ups, I recommend shooting your food photos in daylight.  Food looks awful under ambient light at night, no matter how good it tastes, so do your best to shoot during daylight hours.  I even turn of all the lights in the kitchen when I'm shooting food so I don't get any weird light seeping in.  This can be inconvenient if you want to shoot a dinner meal that you'd usually make at night, but you're just not going to get good photos if you shoot them with the lighting that already exists in your house.

The top photos were shot indoors, at night, using the lights I had in my kitchen.  The bottom photos were shot during daytime using only natural light.  They have relatively similar styling, but the photos themselves are drastically different.


My set up is super basic.  I have a table right next to the window in our kitchen and I put a bounce card opposite from the window so I can bounce the sunlight back to the shadowed side of the food and fill in a bit where it might lose detail.  My bounce card is just a sheet of foam core board with the plain white on one side and the other side covered with foil.  This way I can choose how bright of a reflection I want.  Sometimes all I need is the white side, sometimes I want more light filled in and I'll use the foil side.

Do whatever you can to shoot with natural light.  I used to live in a house that was tiny and dark, so I'd shoot all my food on the front porch.  I probably looked like a crazy person to my neighbors, but it gave me way better photos than I would've achieved doing them indoors.

Depth of Field refers to how much of your photo is in focus and how much is blurred out.  If you're shooting with an iPhone or point and shoot, you probably won't have much choice as to what your DOF will be, but with a DSLR you'll have options.  I like to keep my DOF relatively shallow so that what I'm focusing on (the food, in this case) is in focus but the background is out of focus.  I typically play between f/1.4 and f/2.2 for my food photos depending on how many things I want in focus.  I use a 50mm f/1.4 lens for most of my food photos but occasionally I'll pull out my 90mm f/2.8 macro lens to get some fun detail shots.


A garnish can really take your food photography to another level.  A bowl of chili on it's own is okay, but if you put a dollop of sour cream on top, sprinkle some cheese and green onions, and add a dash of chili powder?  You just made that photo so much more interesting and, bonus, mouthwatering.  Basically what you're doing is creating visual interest.  A bowl of chili alone is very monochromatic.  It lacks interest, no matter how delicious your grandma's recipe is.  A cocktail alone is nice, but a cocktail with a garnish is better.  Think about color when you garnish, you want the garnish to give the food a pop, not blend in.  Some food isn't naturally photogenic and needs more help, so garnishing is a perfect way to give it a little umph.

The left photo would've been much better if I'd included a garnish on the soup.  The second photo shows a very similar looking soup, but the photo is so much more interesting because I garnished with some cheese, cilantro, and bacon!

A picture of spaghetti on a table alone is boring.  You want to create images with their own story, and food photography is no different.  Add a placemat that brings texture, but doesn't pull focus.  Artfully swirl the spaghetti on a fork.  Place a loaf of french bread in the background and cut a couple slices.  Pour a glass of wine and put it next to the plate.  You've just created a story and the photo is so much more interesting than the plain old plate of spaghetti you started with.  Let's take a hint from this awful photo from one of my first food posts... boring and unappetizing!

This isn't necessary, but it can produce some really interesting photos.  If you're the photographer this can be more difficult as you'll have to document the process with a tripod and self timer, but if you have a helper or can document as someone else creates the food it will make it easier.  Don't think that it's too hard to do on your own, I've done plenty of process shots on my own that have really enhanced a recipe post with just a tripod and self timer.

Process shots don't have to document the actual process either.  Determine what parts of the process are most photogenic and focus on getting shots of those.  I like to shoot pouring a cocktail from a shaker into the glass, but it can take a few shots to get all the elements right.  Don't forget to style your process shots too.  Create a scene that tells a story.  Because you're using still photos, you only get that one moment to tell a story.  In baking shots I'll usually have containers of my ingredients where they're measured out, even though I wouldn't do it that way if I was just baking normally.

This is easy to do by going to thrift stores and grabbing a few items that look good in photos.  Maybe have a couple forks with a cool etched design on the handles, get some plain white plates that will highlight the food, grab bowls that look interesting to shoot soups.  Even things like interesting cutting boards or napkins are great to have on hand to style your shoots.  Something I learned is using smaller plates when shooting food than you would normally use for eating.  A smaller plate is easier to fill and the proportions will look better on camera.  You don't need full sets of things, since most of your photos will be plated on only one or two plates, unless you're going for full tablescapes.

Like I said, I use the same location for all my shots, so in order to get some variety, I have some different backdrops that were super simple and easy to make.  I have a light wood table that I occasionally use, but I also put wood planks on top the table to create alternative looks.  One is a set of planks from our old fence, which gives a really nice rustic look.  The other is a set of planks that is whitewashed for a bright, clean, white background.  You could also use plywood, natural, painted, or aged/stained.

It takes just a little bit more thought and effort to take a food photo from boring to mouthwatering.  You don't need super fancy equipment to create delicious images.  It takes some practice to start figuring things out, but you'll start to learn what looks good and what works.  Practice makes perfect!  Keep on shooting!

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handmade holiday gift guide // for the photographer

ne thing that I get super excited about it is getting new photography gear.   Whether it's a new lens, new editing presets, or bags and support gear, shopping for camera stuff turns me into a kid in a candy store.  This gift guide has a lot of things on it that I already have and love, so I wanted to share them with you guys because I'm sure you'll love them as well!

My big personal wishlist item this year is the Holdfast MoneyMaker camera harness.  I first saw it when I was in the audience at Creative Live earlier this year at Jen Rozenbaum's session and she was using one and I was like  O_____O   "I NEED THIS."  I don't like traditional camera straps and haven't used one in years, but hadn't found an alternative that really seemed to fit my needs.  While my lenses aren't giant, by the end of a wedding day my wrist would be killing me after holding my camera for 8-10 hours straight.  When I saw Jen using her MoneyMaker I knew it was the exact thing I'd been looking for!

I spent years editing photos in Photoshop and then a couple years ago I really wanted to try out VSCO's film packs because I really loved how they emulated a real film look.  I ended up getting Lightroom so I could use their Lightroom presets and it's made my editing workflow so much faster.  I still use photoshop occasionally for certain things and retouching here and there, but for the most part I only edit in Lightroom now and exclusively using VSCO's 1 + 2 Film Presets.

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Before I stopped using a normal camera strap, I had an IMO strap which I loved.  It was so cute and such an improvement over the boring, stock Canon strap that the camera comes with.  It's such an easy way to make your camera unique and stylish and if you're not shooting for hours on end or need everything that the MoneyMaker strap offers, IMO straps are a great option.  I have their rainbow zig zag strap but I love this one's Pacific Northwest vibe!

I didn't do much in the way of Black Friday shopping, but I was on the hunt for some photography deals that day and one big ticket item I snagged was this gold sequined backdrop!  I fell hard for it a while ago and it was a little present to myself for my business and I'm so excited to shoot with it.  It's on backorder so I won't get it until January, but they've got a bunch of other colors in their sequin collection and a lot of them are half off right now!

One of my best Christmas gifts from a couple years ago was an Ona bag that I use constantly.  It holds my laptop, lenses, camera body and more, so it's my go-to carry-on when I fly.  Unfortunately it's too big to be my day-of shoot back with my extra lenses and such, so I've been using a camera bag insert inside a smaller purse that works so perfectly.  But, I've had my eye on this Ona bag for some time.  It's the same size as the makeshift bag I use now and it's in the prettiest cognac leather.  Swoon!

top photo via benj haisch

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handmade holiday gift guide // leather, canvas, and stone

here are so many amazing makers out there killing it in their small, handmade businesses, so I wanted to feature a few of my favorite things from some of those makers.  I've been really loving the natural textures of leather, stone, and canvas lately and I'm constantly impressed with how many incredible products are being made by independent artisans.   I've got quite a few small business owners and makers in my instagram feed and it's been fun to see how busy they are this time of year.  I know that this season can really be make or break for small businesses so giving them my business is important to me.  Quite a few of the artists featured in this gift guide are also local to Tacoma or the PNW, which is another thing I love.  Putting my money right back into my community is a great way to support my local art scene, small businesses, and economy.

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Natural stone jewelry is fast becoming my favorite thing to adorn myself with.   I was never much of  a jewelry girl, but now that I've discovered what kind of jewelry I love, I'm definitely becoming more of a jewelry hoarder.  Growing up I was always fascinated with turquoise jewelry and I remember road trips through the southwest spent ogling all the amazing jewelry made by native artists at roadside markets.  

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Can we talk for a sec about how amazing that tablet sleeve is?  Holy cow. One photo can't really show how awesome it is, so make sure to click through on that one to get a better look.  In the past I used to get faux leather products because they were cheaper, but I always found that they fell apart pretty quickly.  I've made a shift to investing in higher quality leather goods because they're built to last and the craftsmanship is so much higher, especially when you're buying from makers who are devoted to crafting an incredible product.  

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I've got tons of little canvas totes that I use for picking up our CSA from the farmer's market, but none of them are nice enough to carry around as a daily bag.  All of these bags meld form and function perfectly and I love how you can tell they were crafted by artists.  From the hand printed textiles, to the design, the attention to detail is apparent.  I've been coveting a Year Round Co. bag for probably two years now (2 + 3), and they just keep getting better!  They are located here in Tacoma and it feels like such a treat to have such an amazing company located right here in my town!

(top photo via black anchor workshop)

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postcards from paradise pt 1.

indie tropical maui photographer

t's drizzly and grey outside as I write this, so looking at these photos is like peering through a little window to a magical place.  Sometimes it's bizarre that such a place even exists!  I was excited to bring my camera to Hawai'i and photograph everything.  The colors and textures and light is all so different than the PNW, so it was fun to play around with my camera while we were there.  Everything is so beautiful so of course I took tons of photos.  And way too many sunset photos.  Sometimes I think a sunset is just meant to be experienced in real life, not through photos.  Dan and I got a kickstart of serious wanderlust while we were there.  It's easy to know that exploring new places is just a plane ride away (which still kind of blows my mind), but it doesn't really sink in until you step off a plane and you're in a whole new place, just like that.  

When I was a kid we had a huge family trip to Europe planned and the day before we were going to leave my grandma got in a car accent and was medivaced up to Anchorage to the ICU and we all canceled our trip because we were expecting her to die.  Of course now, like 15 years later she's going on 94, but I still haven't gone overseas and I know it's only a plane flight away.  Dan went on a trip in high school to the UK and a bit of France, but he's been wanting to go back and see more too, so now it's just a matter of making it happen.  We're calling Hawai'i our 3rd anniversary trip, so maybe it'll be Paris for our 4th.

indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer
 indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer
indie tropical maui photographer

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