Sami & Brian | September 13, 2014

Back in August of 2013, Elephants Catering held an Open House at The Jenkins Estate to celebrate their new joint venture in being the exclusive caterer for the property.  Sami & Brian were in the process of researching venues for their wedding and attended the event.  I was there documenting the event for Elephants Catering.  However, my connection with Sami & Brian dates back even further to the year 2009 when I photographed Victoria & Brian’s wedding.

Sami is Victoria’s sister and if you look closely, you will notice that Vicky’s husband Brian is the person who officiated Sami & Brian’s wedding.  It was such a treat seeing Vicky & Brian again and obviously an honor to document Sami & Brian’s wedding at the Jenkins Estate.

The Jenkins Estate is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and boasts 68 acres of lush gardens and breathtaking views.  The venue encompasses everything I love about the Pacific Northwest and is a pleasure to photograph.  The tall trees and beautiful streaming light make the Jenkins Estate an incredible location for a wedding.

Check out highlights from Sami & Brian’s wedding below and make sure to visit Paul Rich Studio to see additional weddings we have photographed throughout Portland and beyond.

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Sami Stitt - October 30, 2014 - 4:43 pm

We knew we were making the best possible decision with Paul Rich as our photographer! The photos are absolutely incredible and we will cherish them for years to come. We had such a wonderful day – thanks for capturing it!!

Portrait Fundraiser for ALS Research

For those of us who spend any amount of time online, we had the opportunity to watch the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge take the internet by storm.  The outpouring of support was evident on many individuals’ Facebook pages as people not only dumped a bucket of ice water over their head but also donated money to help support the fight against ALS.

Since July 2014, The ALS Association has received over $115 million in donations due in large part to this unique challenge.  While dumping ice water over your head is quite entertaining to watch, we wanted to push the challenge even further.  We came up with a very simple concept – offer 15 minute portrait sessions for just $15 and donate all the money to the ALS Association.

When we launched the idea on Facebook, we were expecting a small handful of people to respond.  However, as a few people responded, that inspired their friends to respond and then their friends to respond and before long, we had a list of about 30 families and individuals eager to have their portrait taken as part of this fundraising venture.

While we were photographing the families, many individuals asked if it would be possible to purchase additional photos from the session.  Seemed only logical right?  So, we offered additional digital files from the session for just an additional $15 each with all of the funds collected going directly to the ALS Association.  The great thing about digital photography and sites like Dropbox is that we were able to create these images and deliver them to the participants without any material costs.  We did not need to make prints or pay for shipping costs.  We have the participants exactly 1 week to order any files they chose from the portrait session.  We are excited to announce that we raised $1,105 from our Portrait Fundraiser.  When making the donation to ALS we had the option of selecting that the entirety of our donation go toward ALS research.  So that is exactly what we did.

A special thanks to all our participants and their tremendous generosity in assisting us in our fundraising efforts.  Here are a handful of highlights from our recent portrait fundraiser.

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Liam Turns 2

I recently had the opportunity to meet up with Liam for his 2 year photo session.  It was a wildly successful session both because of his personality and because of a series of steps I have learned over the years of photographing children at this unique age.

Let’s face it.  Two year olds are fiercely independent.  They want to explore the world and on their terms.  And, at times, nothing holds their attention for longer than about 2 seconds.  It is a crazy time and I hear many parents comment about how difficult it is to get photos of their child at this age.  Sounds like the perfect time to hire someone else to do it!  :)

When I photograph children, and in particular, 2 year olds, I follow these steps:

1. Establish a strong bond with the parents.  As soon as I meet a family coming in for a portrait session, I make sure to shake hands with and/or hug the child’s parents.  I want the child to see that I am friends with their parents and that their parents trust me.  I speak with the parents a bit and keep the conversation light and fun.  My goal is to get the parents to laugh a bit too to help set the tone that we are about to have fun.

2. Start with getting the parents involved.  I like to start with one or both parents being involved in the picture taking process.  This again reinforces that everything is ok and it shows the child that even their mom and dad don’t mind having their picture taken.

3. Do something silly.  I then begin to work on building a bond with the child.  Doing something silly or traditionally non-adult like is a great way to start.  Sometimes I will pretend to sneeze.  And then sneeze again.  And again.  And again.  And make silly faces and keep sneezing.  This works almost 100% of the time.  Children start laughing AND watching you a bit closely wanting you to do it again and again.  This is the perfect opportunity to capture a few shots in between sneezes.  This starts the process and builds toward gaining more and more time to actually take pictures.

4. Make yourself really small.  You are probably asking yourself…  Ummmm.  What does that mean?  It means getting down on the floor and making yourself as small as possible.  Being that I am over 6 ft tall, I would imagine my height can be a bit intimidating to someone who is two.  I typically lay down on the ground and pretend to take a nap, squirm around like a bug, or pretend to not be able to stand back up.  This typically draws the two year old in closer either wanting to help or even mimic what you are doing.  This makes for a great camera angle too!

5. Get into their world.  Make note of what interests them.  What do they seem to respond to the most?  When photographing Liam, I wanted to show him a bunch of “secrets” that I knew.  We were on Sauvie Island where there was a corn field.  The corn stalks were about 3-4 times his height and I knew he would find that area different and fascinating.  So I made a big deal about showing him a neat place that he probably had not seen before.  Once there, I walked straight into the corn field and “hid” behind some of the corn stalks.  He came right in to see what it was all about.  We didn’t spend too much time there, keeping things brief and interesting, and then walked over to an apple orchard.  There were a number of apples on the ground so I picked a handful up and began to juggle while singing circus music.  Juggling really interests kids and typically gets them to pause for a bit to watch.  Fist bumping, giving high-fives, jumping, and laughing are all great ways to draw focus and keep the portrait session fun.

6. Show them the back of the camera.  Another great way to draw attention is to take a photo and immediately show the child the back of the camera.  This method of capturing a little one’s attention works 95% of the time.  Sometimes I even make a silly face, take my own picture, and then show the photo to the child.  The immediacy of what digital photography affords is a blessing for 2 year old portrait sessions.  I love getting children involved in the shoot in this way.  I even ask them if they want to show the picture to their mom and dad – because you know they are going to love it!  Their response reinforces that the photo session is fun and the affirmation is great for the child to hear.

As we wrapped up, I thanked Liam for the opportunity to capture his picture.  He was excited to be done and expressed a lot of interest in driving the car to go home.  Another perfect photo opportunity!  We oped the front door of the car, he climbed in, and immediately began pretending to drive the car.  I always extend the photo session just a bit beyond the time it feels like it is over.  At this point in the session, the little one is typically a bit more relaxed and responsive to being photographed.  Having an activity like this is a great way to draw attention away from the picture taking process.  It also enables the photographer to dive a bit deeper into revealing the personality of the child.  The moments are more genuine in that they are oftentimes less camera conscious.

Here are some of our favorites from Liam’s 2 year photo session:

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Kelsey & Lee | August 31, 2014

Cornelius Pass Roadhouse weddings are always a lot of fun.  The venue is casual and laid-back making for a very friendly and warm setting for guests.

Kelsey & Lee were married by the Octagonal Barn at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse on August 31, 2014.  Following the wedding ceremony, guests headed into the barn for cocktail hour and the reception.  Kelsey & Lee’s wedding program included a crossword puzzle for guests to complete as a way of getting to know the couple better. Many guests were spotted sharing notes and information in an effort to complete the crossword puzzle.

Toward the end of cocktail hour as things were winding down a bit and transitioning to the reception, the newlywed couple and I strolled the grounds to capture some fun portraits.  Cornelius Pass Roadhouse offers an abundance of photographic locations all within a very short walking distance.  While capturing portraits of Kelsey & Lee, I was inspired to try something a little different.  I asked the couple to head inside the Octagonal Barn and peer out the window with each of their faces occupying a different pane of glass.  I thought it would be fun to have them act out a few different facial expressions in an almost photobooth-like fashion, but we quickly realized that we were unable to hear each other.  We both looked at each other and started laughing at our attempts to communicate.  This off-beat moment was far more than I could have ever asked for but exactly what I ultimately wanted to capture.  At its essence is Kelsey & Lee having fun on their wedding day.

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Jen & Rob | August 5, 2014

When Jen & Rob were considering where to host their wedding day celebration, I recommended they check out Bridal Veil Lakes.  Overlooking the Historic Columbia River Gorge, Bridal Veil Lakes is the perfect setting for an outdoor wedding with lush greenery, beautiful gardens, and breathtaking views.

Jen & Rob exchanged their wedding vows while surrounded by closest friends and family members.  Following the ceremony, guests gathered around the back side of the lake for a joyous cocktail hour before entering in to the reception.  The day was skillfully coordinated by Molli and her team with Soiree.  Westcoast Event Productions provided the rentals with beautiful floral accents and centerpieces by Blum creating an exceptionally elegant reception area.  Pressure Point Band kept guests out on the dance floor all night long with their incredible live music.

Check out highlights from Jen & Rob’s Bridal Veil Lakes wedding below and see additional highlights by viewing their wedding slideshow.

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Baby Ethan

We photographed Diana & Bryan’s wedding back in 2010 and have had the honor of photographing their daughter Emily numerous times over the last couple of years.  She is now 2.  We were elated to hear that they were expecting their first son and met up with them a handful of weeks ago on Sauvie Island for a maternity session.  Well, Ethan arrived on August 5th and just days later, we had the opportunity to photograph him and of course Emily too!

Emily is so excited to be a big sister and she loves spending time with her little brother.  Seeing the two of them together is absolutely the sweetest.  We wanted to share some highlights from Ethan’s newborn session at the studio.  Stay tuned for more updates when we photograph Ethan at 6 months and at 1 year as well.

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Braedon Turns 3

One of the best parts of capturing family portraits is getting to see the little ones grow up over the years.  It is true that they grow so fast so making sure to capture various milestones along the way is very important.  While maternity, newborn, and 1 year portrait sessions are most popular, it is important to keep the tradition going to document your family’s history.

Braedon, who we have photographed on a number of occasions, just turned 3 and to celebrate, we met up at Laurelhurst Park for a portrait session.  Braedon loved running around the park, seeing all the different types of dogs, and feeding the ducks in the pond.  I think that may have been his favorite part of the whole day!

Here are some highlights from Braedon’s 3 year portrait session at Laurelhurst park:

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