Life captured beautifully.


Kendra : Osage High School Senior + Berg Family Portraits

Well, I had a very fun and very busy day when I drove down to Osage, Iowa to meet with Kendra and her mom for a morning of on-location portraits in their hometown. I photographed Kendra’s older brother, Kolby a few years back and so they were all very excited to create some amazing images for this beautiful young lady.
I’m always honored when my customers return to me. And I’ve done lots of returning families with younger siblings becoming Seniors this year, which makes me VERY HAPPY! I know just how many other photographers there are out there these days, creating facebook pages and trying to lure my customers away with lower prices or fancy photo treatments. I know I’m doing something right when people tell me they want MY EXPERIENCE, MY TALENT… I love that they enjoy the simplicity of my images and the natural expressions I am able to coax out of their loved ones.
I can’t imagine trying to do anything else. This is who I am, this is my style and my brand. I dabble in the props and cutesy stuff a little bit with newborns, but I just can’t help myself… what else are you going to do with a sleeping baby??? LOL!
But back to Kendra, and her images…
We did some at her grandparent’s place where they have this fantastic gazebo built into the bluffs overlooking the river below… such a magical location!

Then we went down to the river itself, and around town… finding sources of inspiration everywhere we looked!

We also took some with her (very tame and docile) award winning heifer… it’s almost like it’s a girl relaxing by the tree with her horse! A beautiful creature indeed!

After the morning festivities, we gathered up her immediate family for a little session at their home farm.

But, we still weren’t done!!! Once we finished that, we drove over to Kendra’s grandparent’s farm to photograph the whole Berg clan!

Look at these cute little cousins she has! They are just too cute!

All in all, it was a jam-packed day and I was darn happy to set my heavy camera down at the end… but it was definitely worth it when I saw all these great memories we created together.


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Paul and Linda : aka Dad and Mom : Family Portraits

Well, guess what?! Today is my Mom’s birthday! How fun is that?! I just had lunch with her and my dad to celebrate and I was happy to tell them that I finally finished proofing their portraits that I took earlier this fall.

They were sooo patient with me! I love them so much. You know the old saying about the shoemaker’s kids have holes in their shoes… well, the photographer’s families don’t have as many professional pictures as they should either!
I was happy when my dad asked if they could come down for a session because my mom and him have both been so good the last couple years about exercising and eating healthy. My mom especially has really transformed her body and lost quite a bit of weight! I’m so proud of you, MOM!
It’s only appropriate that we update their old portrait together from 4 years ago.
I just love how these images turned out. My mom has such a great smile and my dad is the biggest sweetheart ever. I can see that in these pictures. Love you both! Happy Birthday Mom!


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Bushbaum-Kuhlemeier Wedding : 09.08.12

Today I’m sharing a few images from a recent wedding I photographed in Rockwell, IA. The bride, Jacque met me at the Clarion Inn of Mason City when Formalities held the Wedding Expo there last January. I am very thankful I did the show that day, because I am so glad I got to capture Jacque and Mitchell’s wedding day. It was absolutely beautiful!

They chose to hire me for my Cinderella Collection, which includes enough time to get lots and lots of fun and crazy images at the reception. I was so tired when I was done for the day, but I had a blast because these guys knew how to party!

I really enjoyed their great exit from the church in the HUGE John Deere tractor… holy cow! I’ve photographed brides and grooms leaving on tractors several times before, but I’m pretty sure this one tops the rest in terms of sheer size!

My favorite part of the night was when they did the garter, and Harry O’Neal their DJ for the night, did the great switch-er-roo to the poor blind-folded groom and put a guy in the bride’s seat… I’ve seen it done before, but oh, my gosh, Mitchell was working it so hard blindfolded before he touched that hairy leg and reality hit, that I was laughing so hard, I’m lucky I didn’t pee my pants!!! I was seriously that funny.

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Renner Cole : Newborn Portrait Session

This adorable little bundle of joy is the newest addition to Megan and Ryan’s family… a couple that I photographed their wedding in 2010.

This picture makes me laugh because Renner looks like he’s thinking “God, you gave me THESE two for my parents???” LOL!
Teasing, teasing!!!
I was very excited when she told me they wanted to come back for Renner’s newborn session. I just loved working with both of them in the past.
Renner was 13 days old when we took these and he fell asleep like an angel!

I still love seeing the newborns in these cute little hats with the long stocking tail… so sweet! And in my little bed, it’s perfection!


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The Carlson Family : Portrait Session 2012

Well, I’m sure you’re familiar with this family if you follow my blog. Miss Ruthie was featured quite regularly over the last year and we’ve done a few family sessions in the last few years too!

I love working with these kiddos. They are naturals in front of the camera and they are so familiar with me now, that they pretty much treat me like an indulgent aunt that loves to photograph them.

This time around, we met at their place and they had the cutest litter of kittens to play with.

I also got those key shots of each child on their own…

and also a nice family portrait…

but of course, Dawn and I both adore the “imperfect” images!


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Greve Family : Northwood, IA

I’ve known this gal, Myra, for a long time. We are in a study club together, called Interse, and I’ve always enjoyed her sense of humor and spirited personality.
She had the whole family down for a gathering a few weekends ago and asked me if I could come over on my Saturday afternoon to take their portrait together. I happily obliged and was glad I had the day free. I do offer weekend sessions… they cost a little bit more ($30 weekend premium) added to the base session fee, but they are worth it if that’s really the only time you are able to get everyone together.
I didn’t always have to charge extra, but since I had my son it requires a little extra planning and running him to a babysitter and I just feel like my weekend hours are extra valuable because that’s the only real good opportunity I have to spend with my family.
Anyhow, back to Myra… We started with some on their front step, since it was in a nice, shady, evenly-lit area and offered some flexibility with posing. I LOVE this one of her and her hubby. You can really sense how young at heart they are!

Then I worked on the different family groups. Myra wasn’t sure at first if her boys would want to do those, but I told her even if they didn’t want it, I was pretty sure SHE would. πŸ™‚ And since we were all together, dressed up, and I was there anyway it only takes another few minutes to do them. So simple!

Luckily she said she didn’t have to lean very hard to get them to agree. I love the image of her two grandchildren!

And, of course, the big family portrait! The biggest challenge was trying to get all the men to smile at the same time. πŸ˜‰ Good thing wonder dog, Morgan, was so well behaved!


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Schlaak Family : Family Portrait Session

You’ll probably recognize this adorable family if you’ve been reading my blog for over a year now. These boy’s mama has been diligent about having their annual portraits taken ever since she discovered my studio and fell in love with my work.

I have to say, I fell in love with them too! I love these guys. The boys, Aiden and Ryan are sooo sweet. Just rumble, tumble, healthy little boys. And the family as a whole, they just have that young, fun-loving personality that I adore.

This year we decided to try out the long grass by the pond and I must say it looks darn good considering we had bright, open skies. Then, later we traveled to another location I have and did some with the steel siding on the shed and the old doorway.

I captured some really funny facial expressions of the boys, ones that I’ve seen on their faces over the years so I know it’s very “Aiden” and “Ryan” of them… if you know what I mean.

I am thinking a 9 opening collage of square images would be perfect to use these in.
I’m pretty sure their mama’s going to want to strangle me because I uploaded a gallery of about 100 images! YIKES! Normally, I am able to keep theirs below 80, but the extra 9 face shots of each boy added up.
I’m thinking it will be hard for her to “eliminate” any of them since they’re all so cute! But that’s what the multi-opening collages and proof books are for.

I only wish I had the time to design coffee table books because that would be a fun thing to create from a session like this.
P.S. If the slideshow below shows up kind of “wonky” I apologize… I’m trying to figure out why I haven’t been able to get them to work lately.

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Mandy & Justin : Family Portraits

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 5 years since I stood in the sweltering July heat, on 7-7-07 as a bridesmaid in my good friend, Mandy’s wedding. It was really, a beautiful day. Hot, but beautiful at Schell’s Brewery gardens. Did I mention it was hot??? πŸ™‚ LOL! I was probably a bit hotter than usual since that was the summer I was preggers with Collin. Luckily, that worked out just right since I still looked good in the bridesmaid dress… Collin wasn’t due till January.
I’m happy to say Mandy and Justin have stuck together through the ups and downs of life and the challenges we all face as newlyweds. It’s not easy. That’s for sure.
They are happy with their family of four… their two dogs, Sammie and Molson (aka Mo).
Who knows, maybe someday soon there will be a two legged addition??? LOL! Who am I to tease? It took me 5 years of marriage before Andy and I were ready for kids.

I love all the fun, playful images we captured.

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Camellia : 3 weeks old : Little Miracles Baby Plan

Good morning everyone! I had a great birthday yesterday. Thanks to all my amazing friends and customers for the wonderful birthday wishes on facebook! Love you all so much!
I’m excited to share some images today of a very beautiful, precious baby girl. One of the most perfect babies I’ve ever photographed… LOL! πŸ™‚
Okay, okay. … So I may be slightly prejudiced, since she is – in fact – my first niece. πŸ™‚
I’m proud to introduce Camellia Lynne.

Isn’t she just the sweetest? I love the family portraits. And the ones of just her and her big brother, JP, are priceless. He is such a wonderful, protective, big brother. I must say, at only 3 years old, he really seems to be very accepting of the newest addition to the family. I didn’t sense any jealously which I’m sure makes my brother and sister-in-law very happy indeed!

I used an old wicker rocking chair that was a family heirloom, my dad had in the attic that I’ve never used before, and this old hand-sewn quilt I purchased a long time ago at an auction, that I’d also, never used before. I must say, I’m pleased with the result, but my favorites are the simple, close-up images. There is just such power in the fine features of a child’s face.
I also captured some really fun images of JP and daddy… my brother, Chris. These are pretty near and dear to my heart, since I know what a great dad Chris is and it’s evident in these portraits that JP clearly adores him.
My sister-in-law, Mariah, also got a great “Madonna” shot (as in the Mary and Jesus, not the singer) πŸ˜‰ of her and Camellia together.

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Carys : Two Year Old Portrait Session

The little cherub was back from D.C. again. Visiting Grandma! She’s as cute as ever, but not quite the little chunk she used to be. πŸ™‚ Remember those cute rolls she had? Not so much, anymore. Oh well! Babies grow up. 😦 It’s the truth. It’s a good thing because that means they are healthy, but it’s also bittersweet because we will miss that sweet innocence that fades with age. That’s why it’s so important to take lots of pictures that first year and then keep taking professional portraits once a year after that. (Even after they start school and they get that BORING school portrait…ugh. What does that say about WHO they ARE???) … sorry! off my soapbox. πŸ˜‰
This family has been awesome, diligently visiting the studio three times during Cary’s first year and once a year after that. Luckily, they are expecting another baby so I will be getting to start the process all over again! YAY!
Check out Miss Cary’s images. We only did two outfits this session. It’s usually not feasible to do much more than that with a two year old. They are just wanting to go, go, go… and they don’t quite take directions (that well) yet.
These are usually my most high-energy sessions. I’m using my creative brain-power as fast as I can to figure out what background and props will work best as far as looks, and function goes… I’m constantly moving things in and out, trying to find what holds their interest. Because I know my window of opportunity with a two year old is very short.
Carys took a liking to a little American flag I had lying around (unfortunately it didn’t coordinate with her outfit, but in b&w it works!)

Once we weaseled that away, I managed to get a few more without it before we decided to switch over to her favorite outfit.
They are big Giants fans, if it wasn’t already obvious. πŸ˜‰ I love the way the blue looks with her eyes and I had the perfect football for her to play with.

Daddy got in on these images, especially since this is the first time he’d been to the studio… we had to capture some professional daddy and me portraits.
I think these would work awesome in one of my multi-image collages.

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The twins are back and 6 months old!

Leah and Emma are back and they are cuter than ever! I was happy to have them visit the studio again for their second session in my “Little Miracles” baby plan.
These twin girls are so, so cherished by their mommy and daddy! I love seeing the parents of twins work together. They don’t have an option. They just HAVE to. Although, I think Wes would have been a pretty hands-on kind of daddy, either way.
He could get those girls to smile so easily!!! I don’t know what he was doing behind my back, but whatever it was, they found it to be hilarious!
For the family images, I had my work cut out for me. Trying to get all four of them to look good at the same time was a challenge. Although Wes and Katie take directions pretty well, πŸ˜‰ it’s hard because it seems like right when the one baby that wasn’t smiling decides to break into a grin is right when the other parent feels the urge to adjust a dress… or something like that! LOL! But it’s ALL good!
I found it amusing, mainly because they warned me Emma’s going to be my challenge… that she is pretty discriminating on who she smiles for. And for the first few minutes, that was true… She definitely has perfected that disapproving frown. πŸ™‚ haha!
But then, it was like a switch was flipped and she decided I was alright after all, and from then on, she was all grins.

There were so many great images. It was very hard for me to narrow them down as much as I did. I don’t know how they will choose; from the best of the best. Glad that’s not my job!!! πŸ™‚

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The Schlaak Family : New Richland, MN

They’re baaaack! πŸ™‚
It’s hard to believe it was just a year ago that this mama wrote me saying, “I have never taken them {my boys} to a professional because I never knew how they would act or how they would turn out.” LOL!
Well, last year we didn’t have the easiest time since it was their first full photo session and their ages were 1 1/2 and 3 years old… but we still got a couple really good family pictures and some really fun ones of the boys together.
This year was a totally different story! I couldn’t get them to take a bad picture!!!! Seriously! They were just smiles the whole time. Giggling and laughing and just plain enjoying every second of the portrait session. Craziness!

(Of course, I do my best to make every session fun so that they want to come back and do it again.) But when her little guy, who is 2 1/2, said he didn’t want to be done when I said they were finished… that took the cake!

I can’t wait to see them again. I almost feel bad for their mommy who has a TON of great images to choose from. It will be sooo hard. I already spent way, way too much time trying to narrow them down already. There are just so many great FUN shots.

I guess if I were her, I would look at it this way: It should be easy to choose because you just can’t go wrong!

I hope you feel the same way too! Let me know what you think of these portraits!

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The Houg Family : Garretson, SD

The next family I was honored to photograph while in Sioux Falls was actually a relative of my husband’s side of our family. They moved out to Garretson after I had begun professional photography and enjoyed my work so much they continue to book a session each year to capture new images.

In the past, we have frequented the beautiful Palisades Park near their home. This year we decided to go to keep thing really simple and easy, and drove to the city park right in town.

My brother-in-law was also along for the fun, watching Collin while I worked. (And he took the picture above) It also gave him his first opportunity to play with his cousins because every other time I went out there, I left him at home with Dad.
Everything went amazingly well and we were done within 45 mins. Next, they wanted to capture a few images of the newest member of their household, Elizabeth. She’s Kristen’s niece and a total cutie pie!
I just loved her cowboy boots! I think Kristen’s having fun shopping for a little girl again, since I’m sure her older daughter, has her own ideas of what she wants to wear.

I had better get back to work! Plenty more to do! I have a couple seniors, a 6 month old baby girl, and wedding images to finish proofing and share soon!
P.S. Collin is always in daycare or has a babysitter for my sessions so it was a treat to have him there to see me in action. He really enjoyed it and was glued to my side. Too cute! (But not something I will start doing anytime soon, the poor kid took an elbow when I turned my camera quick and didn’t realize he was right there he was being so quiet! … He didn’t realize it was a contact sport I guess!)

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Knutson Family Portraits : Canton, SD

When I was heading back to Sioux Falls, SD for an ordering appointment with the O’Connor family I decided to take the opportunity to offer my services to some families that were interested in having me photograph their families and I got two more takers! Yay! (Which was all I had time in my schedule for anyway! … so it was perfect!)
I got a little nervous driving out to Sioux Falls because it was pouring rain for about an hour leading up to the state line. But once I arrived in town, the weather was beautiful and I couldn’t have been happier!
I was pleased to find the Knutson family ready to have their portraits taken. (Although Dawn says it’s impossible to talk the guys into getting portraits taken, which is why she had me come right to their farm.)

I guess it didn’t hurt any that her hubby got to pose with his giant Case IH tractor! πŸ™‚ Nothing like a lot of horsepower to get a guy to smile!

I just love their little doggie too! She had all the personality of a big, tough dog in a compact body.

P.S. The one where their son is hugging the dog makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. I know it’s a little weird, but too funny!

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Baby Leo : Newborn Portrait Session

Little Leo, isn’t that the most adorable name? He’s so perfect.

I was excited and surprised when I found out my past clients were expecting again. I got to know them and their family very well when I did their wedding photography back in 2005. So, I knew they didn’t have an easy time when they wanted to have their first child, Eleanor, but (SURPRISE!) little Leo came right behind… and Ellie isn’t even 2 yet!
Good for them, I say! They make a great team as mom and dad with two little ones to manage.
I think, Kirk would like to do more with Leo right now, but it looks like whenever he tries, Eleanor has a little case of jealousy! πŸ˜‰ It’s okay though. He’s was only a week old so she hadn’t had all that long to adjust yet. I did get a funny shot of her crying at her dad’s feet while he held Leo that I know will be a favorite. That’s REAL LIFE for you!

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The Covert Family : Maternity and Family Portrait Session

This family has been on my blog a few times before. I had the pleasure of photographing Brett and Karie’s engagement, but I was out of luck on their wedding, as I was already booked that weekend. And then I had the honor of taking little Gracie’s newborn portraits almost two years ago now. So I was very happy to get the phone call from the radiantly expecting, Karie.

I just love this girl! She’s an art teacher and has such a beautiful free spirit about her that is hard to put into words. I just think she seems so peaceful and happy all the time.
Little Gracie is growing up so fast, and she’s just a little fireball! πŸ™‚ Maybe she gets that from her daddy! (Right, Karie?)
I love kids this age as they are so expressive of their emotions and it all shows on their faces.

We had our work cut out for us on that hot, hot day… trying to take maternity portraits of Karie, 2 year old portraits of Gracie, and then family portraits as well. Whew! But it was nice and cool in the shade at Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, MN. It’s a good thing we scheduled the appointment for when we did because it was that day at 4 pm that all the Minnesota Parks were shut down due to the congressmen not being able to settle on a budget. (Just another reason I’m proud to live in Iowa now!) Hahaha!

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The Walling Family : Family Portrait Session

I was blessed with a visit from these three little angels and their daddy. Β They hadn’t had a good family picture taken in quite so time so they were very excited to work with me. Β I am always thrilled when I get to work with someone that hasn’t had a professional portrait taken for a while because they are always so amazed and impressed by the whole experience. Β Kind of like a “Why haven’t we done this sooner??!” is the type of vibe I usually get.

I think that is because I really make it easy on my clients. Β I try to ease their worries about clothing or blemishes and visit with them, get to know them better, joke with them … just to get them to relax and plain ol’ forget they are here to get their photograph taken.

My main focus is getting that “right” expression… not too much smile, but yet a “real” smile and really, really good focus on the eyes… the window to the soul. Β  And, if you can’t tell that these girls adore their daddy, then you must be blind! *wink*