Jill & Shay | Engaged!

It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you own a dog as sweet and cute as little Gia (seen below), I’m going to love you. But, there’s about a million other reasons why I love these guys, besides that! For one, Jill & Shay are super creative! When I walked into their house and saw all of the art and the way they had it decorated, I was pretty sure we were going to get along. And, these two are just down-to-earth, chill people…the kind that you want to have in your life–for the rest of your life. Oh, and did I mention, they are funnny (three “n’s”)! I loved watching Jill and Shay just be together and laugh! And, well, again…their dog, Gia…this dog, you guys, just made my heart melt! While we were at the 1000 Acres dog park she chased snakes, while we chased the good light. After that, she got a little tuckered, so while we headed farther out into the Columbia River Gorge, just past Hood River, Oregon, she fell asleep and took a good, long nap while we spent time at Rowena Overlook in Mosier, Oregon.

And if that’s not enough, I ALREADY received a hand-written thank you note in the mail from them!! Thanks, you two, for pretty much being the best!

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#30daysofthanks | Thirty Days of Thanksgiving

Well, we’re half way through November! Can you believe it? I feel like time is just flying right now. So, I wanted to stop for a minute, to reflect and give thanks. I haven’t been posting my #30daysofthanks this year, but it seems like the right time to list each of the things I am thankful for this year!

1. For a home and community that is safe and secure.

2. For a family who has supported me no matter what choices I have made. And for my second family, the Weilers, who are truly some of the best people I have ever known.

3. For James who continually encourages me to be a better person.

4. For coffee.

5. For struggle, which gives me pause to reflect on what is truly important and reminds me of those who are far more burdened than I.

6. For my friends. You put a smile on my face, no matter what.

7. For those photographers in the industry who are not only paving the way for people like myself, but also setting the bar higher for everyone in the future.

8. For my couples who trust me and give me the freedom to photograph them with my own vision and give me the honor of documenting one of the most important days of their lives!

9. For my education.

10. For cranberry sauce. And mashed potatoes, and turkey and stuffing, and green beans and gravy and pumkin pie and pecan pie and apple pie…!

11. For film–it has opened my eyes to a whole new way of seeing.

12. For all of the wedding-related business people who have been willing to collaborate and share their knowledge, in hopes that we can make a better wedding industry, locally!
13. For champagne…straight out of the bottle. Oh yes, that is how I roll 😉
14. For babies everywhere who have convinced me I might want one of you someday…and simultaneously drawn me in with your cute little smooshy faces, while making me cringe with your screeching cries–reminding me that motherhood (eventually) will be incredible…but difficult. Very, very difficult.
15. For you, my faithful blog readers. Blogging is hard work, but if I connect with you, even just one of you, in some way, it is worth every minute of it.
I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for right now! Feel free to leave a comment, or if you’re in town, we can get together over coffee, or if you’re not from here, let’s Skype/FaceTime! I’d love to connect somehow with each and every one of you!

Literally… | Leavenworth Wedding Photography

I’m no grammer nazi, but when it comes to the word, “literally” I do have to chuckle when I hear someone say something like, “I literally moved heaven and earth to be here.” The visuals for that are awesome, right?

When it comes to photography, you can sort of categorize photographs into literal and non-literal images. So, you can photograph a person in a straight-forward manor, like a portrait, or you can render an image in such a way that it creates a feeling, and becomes something more than a descriptor:


  1. An element or term that has the function of describing, identifying, or indexing, in particular.

On a wedding day, it can be difficult to feel like you have time to look for these types of images, and I think sometimes, I turn that creative part of my brain off…literally. It’s frustrating, to say the least because I feel that these images are some of the most beautiful, and telling or even story-telling images of the entire day. But, we get caught up in the idea that a client wants to see the straight-forward, literal depiction of important moments on their wedding day.

For example, I certainly have been guilty of only photographing the bride putting her dress on for the first time using a wide angle lens showing the entire room, instead of a tighter shot focusing in on the details of her hands over her head as the dress covers her head, and nothing more. The latter image would depict the feeling of that moment, rather than the exact moment itself. Two different parts of the brain are at work here and are constantly in conflict.

My goal, on a wedding day, is to turn on –literally– the part of the brain that is creating and feeling, more often than I turn on the part that tells me…”make sure you show what was happening in that moment and nothing more!” I do know that this is easier to do when I have full-freedom from expectation. I’ve said this before, but it bares repeating, I love working with people who get that creative process! It is so inspirational and well, literally gets the monkey off my back 😉

Here are few examples of moments that are more about the feeling of the day, rather than the literal moment that’s happening…

(From Megan & Mark’s San Jose wedding)

(From Colleen and Arius’ Leavenworth, Wa wedding)

(Halley & Chuck’s Tacoma engagement session with their dog Grandma Moses)


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I believe… | Leavenworth Wa Wedding Photographers

I know that this is kind of heavy for a Tuesday, but I want to share with you, my dear blog readers, my “why”. This is the reason I do what I do….

I believe…I was lucky.

I grew up in a family with two parents in the house–two parents that modeled pure love. We didn’t want for much. I grew up rarely worrying…except …except…I worried that I would never find someone who would love me the way my dad loved my mom. I grew up worrying that I wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or skinny enough to be loved. I struggled with this each and every day at a university where everyone seemed to have a perfect life.
Then, one day, I walked into a room full of people, some of whom I realized were true friends, but most of whom seemed to want to see me fail, or, at the very least, could care less if I succeeded. But, in that room, I saw one man who, in that moment, I knew I wanted to marry. A million thoughts about how I wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough or smart enough flooded into my head, but I pushed them aside and put on that front I had crafted over the years, that allowed me to come across as cool and confident, and I introduced myself.
Our palms met as we shook hands and I further knew that I was in the presence of someone who could love so deeply, so honestly, so intuitively, that he could match all my childhood illusions of what love could be, of what love should be…I met my husband, James, that day.
He told me from that very day that I was deserving of love. I was worthy of it. He told me that I could have a life so full of this kind of love, that it could match the life I grew up in…and that it was okay. I didn’t have to feel guilty, or sabotage myself, like so many people can do.
I discovered something about myself when I met James. I discovered that following my heart and trusting myself would lead me in the direction I needed to go and that listening to the noise around me only distanced me from what truly matters. And, since then, each and every time I follow my heart, there has been a light-bulb moment! “Ah ha!” I’ve thought, “this is how I’m supposed to live my life!” And, each and every time I have decided to follow through on these “ah ha!” ideas, James has gently put his hand on my lower back and pushed me toward those dreams. He has encouraged me to drown out the noise. To focus. To be strong. From photojournalism, to photographing weddings and all of the other life in between, he has been there to say, “follow your heart…”

(Our First Kiss as husband and wife, 6 years ago)

I see the world the way I do because of James, and my parents, and many other amazing people in my life. I photograph the way that I love: emotionally, honestly, deeply, intuitively. And I photograph people the way I do because I can see in them what others have seen in me: they deserve love. They deserve to be valued. They are beautiful. They deserve everything they can imagine their lives to be!
I absolutely see this in people as I photograph them and I want that reflected to them in the photographs I take–like a mirror reflecting the most perfect image they can possibly imagine of themselves. This is what I strive to create each and every time I press the shutter…each and every time I shake a hand…each and every time I look into someone’s eyes…I strive to remind them they deserve love and they are loved.
I firmly believe this, and I strive to conduct myself and my business in a way that reflects these values.

Thank you, for allowing me to share a piece of me with you today.

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Oh, and happy anniversary (a few days late), James!

Run Like Hell…

This morning I was all ambitious and got up early. I decided to get some fully-caffeinated coffee for the first time in 3 weeks. I told myself it has been a good run, but I’m really a better person with coffee (this is one of the things I’ve been going back and forth with for a while, but I’ve decided that as with anything: moderation).

After I got my iced coffee I drove around to check out my new neighborhood a bit. I then got the idea to map out a run I want to try. I’m making it a goal this year to run more and have even decided to run a half marathon! In fact, I just signed up for the Run Like Hell half-marathon in Portland! It feels scary and makes my stomach turn. I think that’s why I wanted to drive the route first before running it… to ease my fears about doing it…I should have known better. Now that I’ve mapped it out, I know how hard it’s going to be! In some ways this is a good thing…because I can plan for it — you know, hydrate properly and get the proper playlist on my iPod, etc. But, honestly, the planning is what’s making me tired and nervous. So, instead of sitting here talking about it and planning for it and becoming fearful of it, I’m going to go get my Nike’s on now and just do it.

(I just started reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and, well Mr. Covey, I believe you forgot #1: Drink Coffee.)

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(Full disclosure, I don’t wear Nike’s they aren’t good for people with wide feet:) like myself.)


Jennifer & Dustin {Engaged!} | Leavenworth Wa Wedding Photography

If I could name my favorite part about the engagement session with Jennifer and Dustin at Pomeroy Farm and Lucia Falls, it would be the very beginning when we had just begun to pose in the doorway of a house in the parking lot at Lucia Falls and a man in stars and stripes suspenders asked if he could sneak past us to knock on the door. Dustin had observed that the man had car trouble and asked if he could help him in anyway. It struck me how quickly Dustin offered his help without even thinking. The man just had to wait it out, since it looked like it was an overheated radiator, but Dustin told him, whatever he needed, he would try to help out…

If I could name my second favorite part of the session, it would have to be the very end of the evening when Jennifer and Dustin decided they would get into the river at Lucia Falls, so I could make some portraits of them there! Both were NOT looking forward to how cold it would be, but they were still up for it and happy to try it!

There are so many other favorite parts of the day that stick out, like getting to meet their dog Checkers, but in the end, it was just getting to know these two that was my very favorite part. They have such good hearts and are so adorable together! The way that they each give without question, and live with such enthusiasm, is really inspiring to be around! Plus, Jennifer’s laugh is seriously infectious!

Thank you, both, for spending the day with me and sharing with me your generous spirit!!!



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Jennifer & Dustin {Engaged!} Sneak Peek

What a sweet afternoon spent on the river with this sweet couple! Jennifer and Dustin are the kind of people who take life by the horns and enjoy every drop of it! Here’s just a little peek of the fun we had exploring the Lucia Falls area and Pomeroy Farms near Vancouver, Washington…

portland wedding photographer

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p.s. Check back for more of the lovely Jennifer & Dustin on Friday!

Action trumps fear…

Yesterday, I spent the day with my niece, Mesa, who if you’ve been to the blog before might remember just graduated from high school! We decided to take a trip to Ikea to get dorm-room supplies and to spend time together just being girls…

Since we’re in Portland we had to, of course, stop off at our fave coffee joint, Stumptown, in order to brave the deep waters that is known as: Ikea.

stumptown coffee portland oregon

I knew we were in deep when we spent 30 minutes in the first 20 feet of the store…BEFORE we event got to the couches…yeah…yikes! We talked about what she might need, what she might want, what other people might do, how she doesn’t want to do what everyone else is doing…

And, at some point near the shelving section, I said, “you know, sometimes you just have to make a decision and stick with it…” Pretty much I was talking to myself at that point (partially because she’s a phone-addicted teenager, and partially because I keep telling myself this, over and over this week).

“Just make a decision, then tell others about it, then follow through on it and GET IT DONE (comma Kathryn!)!!” I have been saying out loud to others…and quietly to myself.

Anywho, somewhere in there she heard me…in all of my ramblings about how I want to learn to be a doer, and not just a planner/thinker/intentions-but-not follow-through-er. Something stuck. And we proceeded to make decisions throughout the store…including the best decision of the day…getting a one-dollar soft-serve vanilla cone at the end of our successful shopping trip.

I’ve found myself telling others about taking action…in hopes that they hear me, but more in hopes that I’ll hear myself. Whenever I am fearful, but take action anyway…my heart-rate slows and I can breathe deeply, knowing that I can be a doer, if only it’s one step at a time.

Here’s to Tuesday/DO-day!!

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Live with intention | Leavenworth Wedding Photography

It’s been one week since the What If Conference in Portland began. One week since I began a journey, a voyage of sorts, with almost 60 others who didn’t know what to expect out of the conference, the speakers, the other attendees, and probably mostly we didn’t know what to expect of ourselves. I certainly had no clue what would happen, but I know I would NOT have ever been able to predict what ended up transpiring.

I’m still having a difficult time articulating what came to pass at the conference, but it was something extraordinary…no, it wasn’t just, “extra-ordinary”, as one of the speakers, Mary Marantz, would say, it was “un-ordinary”.

It’s wasn’t any one thing that happened, or any one thing that was said, or any one person that I met. It was the sum total  that created an atmosphere to just stop and think about things just a little differently. Actually, not just a little differently–completely and wholly different.

If there was an overarching idea or theme of the conference it was this: Be a doer, not just a dreamer/planner/thinker. And, if I’m going to be honest, this scares me to death. I, for sure, am a person who finds safety in just talking about doing something, and then not exactly following through on it, and then well, just not doing it at all.

One of our speakers, Liz, of Sseko Designs quoted J.K. Rowling who said,

“The only way NOT to fail is to lead a life so cautious that you don’t live at all. And in that, you have failed.”

Liz is the epitome of a doer. She has an idea and she runs with it. As she spoke to us, she talked a lot about why people don’t just “do”, but often choose to play it safe. She talked about “lizard brain,” –the idea that there’s a part of our brain that takes over when we face a decision. That part of the brain is responsible for fear and if we let it rule our lives, we might never make the decision to act on any big idea. We have to fight it at every turn, even knowing that we might fail. We must learn to fail and fail often, she prompted. She is living this motto as she works to build a business and a bold idea of what her company can do to give back and to change the fashion industry.

What If Conference

"Just start"

Liz is a doer, but “how does one become a doer?”, I kept asking myself. The entire conference I, and others, were questioning how you go from playing it safe all the time, to taking action at every turn in your life. Every speaker had a take on how they do it and I have made a list of each of things I plan to take from the way each of them tackles this.

If that idea could be summed up for me in one idea, it’s this:  “Live with intention”. Liz was speaking about her work and about failure and she made a comment that I began to write down. She was talking about how to take action, even if you know you could fail and she said, “Live within tension,”–meaning, we all must make decisions day in and day out, and some of those decisions are big and scary, and in that, we can live paralyzed by that fear, OR we can let go and learn to live with that tension. What I heard though as she was talking was, “Live with intention”. Learning how to be a doer is a major part of what we discussed, but then we have to know our “why” …we have to know what our intentions are in the doing. I have come up with my “why” and soon I will be revealing that, but for now, know that I do everything with that intention as my driving force.

So, you might be asking, what are you going to DO, now that the conference is over? First, I’ve made decisions about my daily routine and I’m going to start there. Because we can’t run, until we learn to walk. Meaning, it takes training to learn how to be a doer, so I am going to do several things each day that will “train” me into taking action, even if it’s just little things. I need to learn to live with that tension…that it won’t happen over night and that failure is just around the corner, but well, I’m going to do it anyway.

“A ship is safest in harbor,” one of our attendees, The Joel, reminded us on our last moments of the conference, “but that is not what a ship is built for.” I am taking action today to start my voyage. And tomorrow I’ll do it again….and the next day and the next and pretty soon I’ll have sailed around the world and back!

Bon voyage, everyone! Until next time!

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Special hearts…a very portland engagement | Portland Oregon Wedding Photographers

I’ve known one half of the couple known as “Ginathan” for a long time…like, for his entire life. Jonathan is my nephew and I met him the day he was born. I was 9 years old on that day. He was fascinating to me…I was so happy to have a little baby in our family and simultaneously I couldn’t wait for him to just grow up already so we could just hang out and talk…and go get pizza on Hawthorne and go thrift-store shopping and get coffee…and all the fun things we would eventually get to do as we became adults. Jonathan is not just a nephew to me, he is a brother and a really good friend. He is quite honestly the best listener I know. He loves to laugh and make people laugh and he’s a lot like me…he’s empathetic…putting himself in the other person’s shoes and imagining what it must be like to be the other.

When I met Gina last year there was something familiar about her. We sat next to each other at a mother’s day celebration at our favorite family restaurant, the Mcmenamins Edgefield. She sat, smiling quietly, listening intently, and laughing…a lot. She was so open and genuine. She seemed to care so much about all of us and I couldn’t help but think she just fit right in…

It was Christmas of last year that I knew she was one of us. She put up with our 3 hour gift exchange, she didn’t think we were weird for having a “theme” for the day (this year it was “an Italian Chrismas” (complete with a Chocolate Mousse-alini” Pie), and she didn’t role her eyes leading up to, during, or after the obligatory and ubiquitous “Stevens’ family goodbye” (a 30-45 minute ritual that involves people gathering near the door, talking, hugging, talking some more, making plans, changing plans, hugging, standing outside the door, saying, “goodbye”, hugging, getting in the car, talking, and saying, “goodbye” again and leaving…while waving goodbye.) This is kind of the gatekeeping mechanism that keeps those faint-of-heart significant others out…Gina has no such heart. She puts up with it and even participates with gusto! I have NO doubt Jonathan has found his soulmate. Gina is already like family to me. I look forward to many more days of pizza eating, thrift-store shopping andA  coffee drinking with these two special hearts! Congratulations, Ginathan! I love you!!!

Special thanks to:

Stumptown Coffee Roasters (45th & Division)

The Woodsman Tavern

People’s Coop

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p.s. Please leave your love for Gina and Jonathan in the comments below…