What sets you apart from the rest of the world?

What skills do I have to offer and why is this important for me to know? This can be a hard question for most— well I know I can be my worst critic. So this is a hard question for myself at times.  I like tea, so similar to the tea aisle, you have various brands, styles, flavors, etc. I usually choose one that fits what I am needing. I know when I purchase, I have an idea of what I am getting in return; usually something that is beneficial to me.

I picked up an article a while back about skills, and that have been broken up into three parts:

• Skills learned through past experience and education
• Skills you bring with you to any job
• Personal traits; the things that make you who you are

Another way to do this is by taking a strengths finder test. I met with a business coach at a photography workshop last year, and she encouraged us to take the Gallup Strength's test. It is about 30 minutes, and will show you your Top 5 strengths. I always find these kinds of things so fascinating! You should definitely give it a try! I would encourage you to read the insights behind each strength for a deeper level of understanding. 

Here is a screen shot of my results! 

I think however you do it, overall knowing about YOU, will be the foundation to knowing your purpose and capabilities. (think of the tea aisle.) This insight is great to have for a bio, or to simply remind myself of what I am capable of when my thoughts do the opposite. To know my worth and objective in life is a great foundation to any strategy, is all I need to know to be on my way. And the same goes for you! YOU are worthy and have something to show for it. God given talents, if you are aware of them, are your story. You are able to do immeasurable things by knowing them. Tell your story! Awareness of your strengths will develop success in your business, friendships, and relationships throughout your entire lifetime. I myself, am still learning, and growing, but one day at a time I find out more about my capabilities, through failures, and through knowing the richness of my strengths that it is a beautiful thing.  

 Remember,  there is nobody in this world like YOU.  Tell your story! And as it unravels, right now! Don't wait to be the perfect image you are thinking now. Tell it now. This is all part of the amazing journey! 

 

A few self portraits I took last December in Arizona at sunset. I still remember how warm and gorgeous it was! And yes I looked like a crazy twirler lady in public. My point exactly. 

papagoparkarizona

 

 

 

 

LEXI + TREY ENGAGEMENT | SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

I had a great time capturing Lexi's and Trey's sweet engagement session last month in Scottsdale , Arizona. We shot at a location called Papago Park. This place was surrounded by desert, and red rock, and ended up being my most favorite place in the area! And from the look of it, it seemed others felt the same. This was a HUGE Tourist attraction. 

We wanted to make this engagement session a pretty one and since they were from Seattle, WA. as well,  We took full advantage of the area and weather, and included this session with a gorgeous gown and breathtaking florals. 

I loved her smile and laugh. They were both the most adorable couple. Complete naturals and so much fun to hang out. The way they looked at each other and interacted together,  told me their love was so real and authentic. 

Very excited for the day they say I Do, For their special day to come! Congrats Lexi + Trey!

 

 

Location: Phoenix, AZ // Papago Park

Florals: Charissa Garver // Flowers by Roo

Gown: Katrina Thaxton // Kaylajannikaphotography

STAY AT HOME.... BOSS. | HOMEMAKING WHILE WORKING PART 2

Photo Credit: The Amburgeys

Last week I started a topic about mixing homemaking with working and how we can align our dreams with our purpose. For myself, there was a transition that took place and it wasnt a very smooth ride. Eventually I decided that I needed to find some kind of balance, so that I was doing everything to the best of my ability.  Once I found some tools to help organize my life, I found that I was both a better business owner AND wife/mommy.

Here are some things that really helped:

(ONE): Meal planning. 
I looked on blogs and you can even sign up for meal planning to consistently receive recipes. I also took one whole day out and prepped freezer meals from my garden last summer and it lasted quite a while. I just tossed them in the crockpot and that was it. Saved SO much time. 
 

(TWO): Keep a daily page. 
I have been using my Passion Planner to keep track of goals, and to-do's. I find it to help so much when I am organized daily.


(THREE): Set a SPECIFIC goal every morning. 
This coincides with (TWO) as you have goals to write down on your daily page each day. In my Passion Planner there is an area for "Priorities", and "Today's goal" on each day. 

 The rest is what best fits YOU, and your lifestyle. And although it may be necessary for you to work outside the home, do not underestimate the importance of managing your home.  The below quote from C.S. Lewis helps to keep me motivated and inspired when I find myself tired, and discouraged. 

"Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world." 

C.S. Lewis

 

Here are a couple photos of me and my boys taken by the fabulous Katrina Amburgey, credited below!

Photo credit: The Amburgeys

 

 

STAY AT HOME... BOSS. | HOMEMAKING WHILE WORKING WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT PART 1

 

When I met the man of my dreams and that moment he proposed, I had my share of ideas of what life was going to be like. I had this dream that I was going to be his side-kick , stay at home, wifey. That was all I wanted to do. I was certain that this was the ultimate “wife” and that if I wanted to be the ultimate “wife” I had to do this full time.  I Had two boys a little bit down the road, and was now a stay at home wife + mommy. I felt this was what we all did. How was I going to do anything else anyways? I couldn't possibly leave by kids at daycare. So I signed up for leadership roles in my church, and helped party plan for the next few years, I could bring along my kids, and maybe do this a couple times a week for an hour or so. 

Well, about 4 years later, as it turned out, God had been pressing on my heart that He wanted me to do MORE. He wanted to develop skills and hobbies in my life. He wanted me to NOT be comfortable, to be CHALLENGED, to JUGGLE. I know right... How could this even be good? Well, My husband’s work situation became a little stressful for him as well, during the recession. He had worked away for quite some time on a project, to pay the bills, so he was now away. This is where I started. I started singing worship at my church, which required a lot more out of me. I also have not sung on stage for over 10 years. I then did what I thought was the impossible, I launched my own Photography business. And just a year after studies. I worked and worked at it, until I literately passed out exhausted, each night. I was up until 6am for 6-8 months straight. After my boys went to bed, I studied. During the week I sang worship out loud around the house, before rehearsals, so my boys could hear, I could practice and was also able to pursue other household tasks. I JUGGLED because I knew I was called in these areas. So instead of fulfilling my dream of being a full time stay at home wife + mommy, I found myself a working woman additionally.
I did ask these questions in my head, If the most important place for me to be ministering in was the home, why was it that God wanted me to work in these other areas?  I couldn’t do that very well if that was the case right?
Well, thankfully God revealed to me that I had some very wrong ideas about homemaking and taught me some extremely important lessons along the way!
(ONE)At this stage in life, the best way to be my husband’s “helper” was to grow in my character and help contribute a little bit financially. Even if it was to help for the boys extra curricular activities,  it is still something.The character aspect was great, My confidence grew. It was the best thing I could have done for my family. My husband valued what I was doing. It was something he could brag about to others, and I really enjoyed that fact that he was proud of me. He respected that fact that I was trusting for Him to provide a way.

(TWO)“Homemaker” is not synonymous with “Stay at Home Wife”
After I finish shooting a wedding, which is about 8 or 10 hours. I get home exhausted. I mean exhausted. My head hurts, my eyes ache. It would be simple for me to just not do anything, and rest, especially since I wasn't home all day preparing dinner, why would I bother? Well this doesn’t mean to NOT do anything. I am still called to be a homemaker. I get up and throw in a frozen pizza those nights if I have to! It's okay! 

(THREE):  Don’t have expectations for the home that are too high (or too low!)
This lesson coincides with #(two).   It’s so hard for me not to set my expectations for myself too high or too low.  When I first got married, I started off by having too high of expectations.  I was ambitiously determined to cook gourmet dinners every single night while still maintaining a perfectly spotless house, a perfectly groomed appearance, and plenty of time for romance with my husband. I mean that sounds great but but life can get a bit messy! And that is okay.

Wives, Moms, Homemakers, Working Wives, Working Moms, Working Moms/Wives/Homemakers, .. this is HARD work, and I have so much respect for you and all of the hats you wear! 

 

I wanted to continue this topic for part 2, and cannot wait to share some more personal thoughts with you all soon! 

 

**Here are some photos of my family, from a self portrait I did in Scottsdale, Arizona Papago Park! Just thought I would share with you! 

 

 

Ballerina Styled shoot | Scottsdale Arizona Lifestyle Photographer

It was a pleasure to get to meet Valerie, from Singapore. We had a lovely lifestyle session in Scottsdale Arizona at a gorgeous location. I enjoyed getting to know her, and hearing her story. She had the most graceful spirit about her. I instantly just fell in love. Her passion for life, learning and the art of ballet truly inspired me. I made sure to take full advantage of this time here in Papago park. There were these gorgeous red rocks in the middle of the dessert with huge holes in them where tourists could walk through, and take photos. It was overlooking the beautiful cactus filled valley, and city of Phoenix. A tiny hike up, but did not hesitate to take our lovely model. You would have to see this place in Arizona; I'm telling you,  stunning.

Okay back up a week prior to session, Valerie had emailed me, and mentioned her friend saw a hashtag of mine on Instagram for a model call. She was interested in applying for the position.  Once I viewed her portfolio...The Yeses didn't take any time. I reached out to a group of photographers located in the Phoenix area and invited them to join us. Right away there was a team who was interested. I felt like this would be a great opportunity to meet others, and I really don't know anyone that wouldn't want to capture a ballerina. This was a win - win, and made me so happy! 

The day of session, I met about 6 or 7 other photographers. I mean, WHAT a FUN way to get to know each other, right?  We all worked together perfectly. We each were able to inspire each other with our unique shooting styles. We had such a generous and loving group of people together, it would have been impossible to not laugh and enjoy our time as well. We shot until I needed to get back on the road, but we have all been able to keep in touch since. Through this day, I made some amazing friendships, and created a generous, loving and kind team of creatives. Oh and not to mention, in yet another GORGEOUS location! You could say I fell in love with Arizona just a little bit more this day. Thank you Valerie for being so wonderful! We love ya!

 

 

*If you are interested in collaborating, modeling and working together on a vision, I will be flying to the Phoenix, AZ area and Palm Springs, CA area this April, May and June 2017. Other locations TBD.. I am Seattle Based.  Contact me and Let's scheme! 

Model: Valerie Loo // @valeriedabomb

dress: Anthropology

Photographers: Aimee Garza HernandezAndrea WhittleErin WalterJamie CostlowJessica Lynn NielsenJulie Sisley

 

 

 

SHHHHHH, LETS PLAN YOUR UNIQUE SURPRISE PROPOSAL!

Your proposal is such a surprising blur,  it often passes by before you know it. Don't let this moment fade away! When they ask how you proposed, you will be able to show them by a beautifully documented proposal. 

This proposal photo shoot will be a keepsake for years to come. Since you will be planning it anyways, lets make it into a shoot! In a other words, a fully custom proposal experience on camera! 

Where should you start? Are you brainstorming ideas but need a little bit more inspo? I have created a list of proposal styles on a mood board to be your guide, to help you collect more thoughts, set your vision more clearly and plan for your perfect proposal. I've also included a proposal Questionnaire tab at the bottom of this page for you. I want your story to be reflective of your relationship, unique and something you will cherish always. 

 

To submit your proposal story, I have attached a questionnaire for your convenience. I cannot wait to help with this surprise! 

**For referrals, you may be chosen to win a free shoot yourself! Contact me, and let me know who to expect, have them contact me, or Link this blog to them so they may fill out this questionnaire. 

 

Newborn Lifestyle session | Gig Harbor WA Lifestyle Photographer

I Had an incredible time with the Lovely family in Gig harbor, Washington. {and yes "Lovely" is their last name} Meeting little Hosanna for the first time, made it even sweeter. We captured their in-home lifestyle session while the weather was beautiful and crisp, making it so nice with the wonderful light. Hosanna, just 6 days old, could not have been a more perfect baby. In fact she was absolutely the most gentle and calm baby I think I have captured, making this time even more enjoyable. Our plan was to mainly focus on Hosanna, while including big brother, as well as mom and dad after. So we already had a good start.

During our session, I remember Hosanna being very alert for her age, we got in some of her looking straight at us with her pretty eyes. She also didn't want her hands swaddles and put them up to her face, which I had zero problem with! Love it when I can capture every real moment and detail.  Big brother came up to see her several times, and tried to help. It was really sweet to see him interact with her. 

As we were getting to the end of the shoot, we took the last bit of it outdoors. We wanted to include some family shots in their backyard because they were at home, and it was a really pretty crisp morning, we couldn't resist! Big brother mostly ran around but we were able to grab his attention for as many photos as possible. We didn't mind finishing up with just mama and baby at the end. 

 

If you are looking at an in-home Lifestyle session with your family, or to include your newest little baby to your Lifestyle family portraits. Make sure to contact me today! I would love to meet you, hear your story and share my Lifestyle session details with you. 

 

 

WHY I STOPPED LETTING TIME BOSS ME AROUND | 5 WAYS TO MANAGE IT.

 

 As we start off 2017, we all have a task that is heavy on our hearts to work on. Someone close to me recently asked me for some pointers on how to be on time. And not only on time but how I manage the time I have. Now, I will be the first to say this is not always me. But since starting my photography business, I have been held accountable to get up extra early, leave extra early and arrive on location extra early. Weddings, are a whole other story. I have had to really learn to manage my time well in the time frame available. 

Here are the five things that I have learned, that has truly helped me manage time, while also giving me that extra time we all need for ourselves.

One. Wake up earlier:: Listen, if you have kids it is amazing to have a few moments to yourself every morning. I sip on some caffeine, and start my little workout. I love to get in and out of the shower, dress and feel like my self BEFORE my children wake up. If you don't have kids, imagine how nice it would be to give yourself an extra half hour. If doing this everyday is way too much for you, just try this every couple days. See how much your attitude changes! 

Two. Prepare the night before:: I get it. The kids are in bed and you are ready for some Bachelor!! But whether I am going for a jog or am working in the office, It is one less thing to worry about in the morning. And it literally takes me less than 15 minutes to prepare. 

Three. Embrace the day planner:: Yes, having everything on your phone is super handy, but trust me the day planner is still alive and needed! Writing things down helps you to remember and store the information. Make it a part of your morning routine, to sit down and look at the week ahead. Also, when I am on the go, as a business owner, I have my passion planner IN MY BAG, at all times. 

Four. Make the car exciting:: Okay Im a little weird but I always keep snacks, water, extra makeup, vitamins, even cute hats in my car.  You just never know and I love feeling prepared while driving to whatever destination. For the kids, I keep a couple extra kid magazines, and maybe a cozy blanket and rain coats always,.. (we're in Washington.) Overall, the more excited about what we have waiting for us, the more likely we are to get in the car. 

Five. Don't get discouraged, I am right there with you and If I can do it, you can! There will be hectic days I promise you. But If you're late, apologize, give yourself grace, and make it a point to not be late the next time.

 

I hope that encouraged you a bit, and I would absolutely LOVE to hear ways that have helped you manage your time! If you have anything to add, please share with us below!  :)

 

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 Ruze Cake house, Scottsdale Arizona... where these thoughts came to life.