Hope and Memory Photography bio picture
  • I help clients capture their child’s personality. Oh, and I’m really good at acting (I used to be a performer in a former life), terrific at eating dessert (my fat jeans would definitely agree), and my Russian accent is stellar (Russians have confused me for an actual Russian until I give them a blank face when my Russian vocabulary runs out). Clients love my creative whimsical photos and are always commenting on how I’ve captured them in such a unique and beautiful way. Personally, I think my ability to return emails faster than Superman’s flight speed is pretty impressive. My Momma thinks I’m determined and that I have great hair and beautiful eyes. My friends envy my ability to balance everything on my overly full plate (they should be envying my husband because I certainly couldn’t do it without him). My clients love that I effectively capture their family and bottle moments in time for them to savor for years to come; I help them hold on to their memories.

Strawberry Shortcake Inspired Commercial Shoot

This one started out as a personal project.  I used to have large panels of a gorgeous unnaturally red color in my hair and my Ophelia girl was obsessed with it.  Last Summer when I was in Texas shooting the Crane Wife, I put some of my red color depositing conditioner in her hair on a whim.  The child went crazy over her (very slightly) red hair.  This was also shortly after her obsession with Strawberry Shortcake began.  When you were a kid, did you ever play that game where you were watching a movie and everyone called characters (“I’m Pocahontas!”)?  I played it a lot with my friends and now I am seeing my girls playing it with each other.  Remembering this game is what initially started this concept brewing in my head.  As it began to take shape and I started the process of figuring out the perfect styling and props, I wondered what Strawberry Shortcake would look like if she were just a little girl with a grandiose imagination.  I wanted a strong sense of vintage Americana and a feeling of dreamy nostalgia.  The absolutely precious strawberry sun suit by The Measure embodied this perfectly with the vintage strawberry print, ric-rac straps, and gingham ruffles.  The shoes… oh, those shoes!  Livie & Luca hit the nail on the head with these pretty little green petal sandals!  Anthropologie’s blue farmers market basket was the icing on the cake.  The props and the location fit together perfectly to evoke the feelings of a bygone era and nostalgic American childhood.  This whole shoot was just pure bliss for me!strawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle children strawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle children
strawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle children
strawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle childrenstrawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle children strawberry shortcake, commercial child photographer, editorial child photographer, seattle child photographer, seattle children

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Amanda Brendle - I am so in love with this! I remember listening to my strawberry shortcake LP when I was a little girl, and reading along to my SS children’s books. This is such a sweet group of images that will positively remain priceless memories! Wonderful job!

Melody Serrano - simply stunning!!! I have a knew favorite photog to start following for inspiration! ;)

Winnie Forbes - Stumbled across your blog and this most adorable photo session. Like…WOW! Love your work.

Kelly - I love love love these! Also love how your daughrers hair turned out! :)

2013 Pin It to Win It Winner!

Are you ready for the Pin It to Win It 2013 winner?! This is truly one of the highlights of my year; I can not express to you how much I absolutely love going through the entries. The downside is that it is so very hard for me to pick a winner! There were a couple I kept going back and forth between, but, ultimately, this one by Christina Martini stole my heart.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is my very favorite Shakespeare play (if I

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thought I could get away with naming this impending baby Titania, I probably would!) and has always captured my imagination in a really big way. If you couldn’t tell, I am a big sucker for fantasy and whimsy and this just totally fits the bill. If I were creating this session for myself, this is very likely what my own pin board would look like and I am really excited to create this session for someone that so closely matches my own vision (like I said, I seriously considered naming this girl Titania… just so I could do a Midsummer Night’s Dream newborn concept… priorities, right?!).

 

If you didn’t win but would still like your dream session to happen, I want to help you create it! Book your concept session by June 10th and enjoy a complimentary $150 print credit (that’s like TWO free 8×10 prints!) on me.

 

And with that, ladies and gentleman, I have to tell you I am officially on maternity leave (I’ll still be available via email, just expect a likely delayed response time) for June and July. I just got this sneak peek from my maternity photos a few weeks ago by the fabulous Sarah Cornish at My Four Hens Photography and I couldn’t help but share it with you here. She made me feel so very pretty, which is quite an accomplishment since I almost always refuse to step in front of the camera. Check her out if you are in the Ft. Collins, CO area!

A maternity portrait taken for me by Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography

 

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Christina Martini - Wow! Thank you SO much! I’m absolutely thrilled to have won a session with you! I’ve long admired your work hanging in Twirl Cafe :) Fabulous!

Sarah Vasquez - Christina, email me so we can get this set up and some details going! I already have some resources for you to check out for props. :)

Pin It to Win It 2013 | Win a FREE concept session with Seattle children’s photographer

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You may remember that last year I held my first annual Pin It to Win It contest. It was SO much fun and I absolutely loved seeing all your dream concepts. For reference, this was the winner announcement and here was her completed session. LOVED it. And now, now it is time to do it all over again; I am just giddy with excitement to see what the entries will bring this year!

WHAT:
Pin your absolute dream concept session with me. We all have those childhood daydreams that we wish were a reality… here is your opportunity to turn them into a reality for your children, even if it is just an experience one afternoon, the photos they have will last them a lifetime of dreaming and remembering. I do this by combining some posing and many candid shots to marry my vision as an artist to who your child is so that I can tell their unique and beautiful story. You know your child best… the things they obsess over and adore; use this

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as your inspiration and get to pinning!

HOW TO ENTER:
Read the rules carefully. If any of these steps are not followed, your entry will not qualify to win.

  • Create a new pinboard on Pinterest with the title “Pin It to Win It 2013 – Hope and Memory Photography.”
  • Pin the above image.
  • Leave a comment with a link to your pinboard.
  • Start pinning your heart out!

WHAT TO PIN:

  • your favorite photos from my website
  • textures and colors that inspire you
  • clothing, outfits, shoes, etc. that you adore
  • locations that evoke the feel you want in your photos (or locations you actually want to use!)
  • props that help to tell your story (especially fun DIY projects and crafts
  • songs, books, plays, etc. that speak to you (just make sure they are all relevant to your concept)

IMPORTANT INFO:

  • The winning session will take place in Seattle, WA during the month of August 2013 (the only caveat to this would be if I am already travelling to your area or you are willing to pay travel costs for me to travel to you… please email me to discuss this if you do not live in the Seattle area).
  • Your session must be a concept session.
  • Winner will ultimately be responsible for acquiring props, but I am more than happy to help create and shop online for props.
  • Winner will be determined by the most creative and well thought out pinboard.
  • Contest will run from April 25, 2013 until May 26, 2013. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

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Martine - Hi Sarah, Here’s a link to my board: http://pinterest.com/mzoer/pin-it-to-win-it-2013-hope-and-memory-photography/

I had so much fun putting this Twinkle Little Star inspired session together. I am still nursing my 2 1/2 year old son. Since my nursling is no longer little and since he’s probably my last baby, I would love a session to celebrate and always remember this special time. I chose the Twinkle Little Star theme because that’s the song I sing as I nurse him to sleep at bedtime.

Brigitte - Hi Sarah, better late then never!! I better get to pining, what a great prize!!
Here’s my pinterest board http://pinterest.com/sunsine1123/pin-it-to-win-it-2013-hope-and-memory-photography/
I have my fingers crossed!! Thank you for this opportunity :)

Christina Martini - Hi! Here is the link to my pinboard for the competition :)
http://pinterest.com/martinichrissy/pin-it-to-win-it-2013-hope-and-memory-photography/
I’m a pinterest newbie, it was a learning experience putting this together! Thanks for looking :)

eve - thanks for your generosity in putting up this contest! It’s my first try at pinterest and there are just so much thoughts & concepts in my mind!
http://pinterest.com/eviez33/pin-it-to-win-it-2013-hope-and-memory-photography/

Christina - Hi Sarah, My board is here: http://pinterest.com/christinasonja/pin-it-to-win-it-2013-hope-and-memory-photography/ I started off thinking of a tea party theme for my daughter, and then started thinking about including more fairy/outdoor woodland influences. It’s been fun to dream about this, thanks for the opportunity!

Spring! – Seattle Child Photographer

Seattle child photographer

merry-go-round, kid umbrellas, curly headed cuties, Spring in the park, creative kid photos, lifestyle images, outdoors with kids, rain boots and ballet outfits, wellies, red and yellow, april showers bring may flowersI’ve been busy making some internal changes and external tweaks to my website (feel free to poke around and check it out!) and handling back end business stuff… and doing taxes. Ugggghhhhhh – taxes are the worst part about Spring! But, I had to pop out of my coccoon and say hello because the sun is shining, the birds are singing outside my office window, and I am able to throw my kids in the backyard to play (and that is a very good thing) and that means Spring is finally here (now, c’moooon Summer)!

I also wanted to remind you that I am going to be on maternity leave during June and July (how is it possible that I will have 3 kids in about 9 weeks?! I still have too much to do!), which means I only have 2 session openings left before baby gets here and a mere 6 session appointments left for the entire Summer, so book yours now to ensure you get a time and

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date you prefer before the holidays start rolling around again (I know, it sounds crazy to talk about that already, but trust me!).

And lastly, I had to share this photo of my girl from our personal mini session with the cherry blossoms. I’ll share more later, but this is literally the only one I’ve had time to edit and now that the cherry blossoms are almost gone for the year and my momma heart is feeling so full, it just seems like a good time to share. The cherry blossoms filling the trees and floating down with the wind always gives me such a sense of peace and some sort of magical element and I am always a bit sad to see them go.

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Seattle child photographer

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Fowl Treatment

I usually try to stay out of this industry nonsense for a few reasons, namely because I find it to be unprofessional and petty, but this particular time it has gone a bit too far and people are just blindly posting this information all over Facebook and their blogs and it is just this side of bullying, in my ever so humble opinion. That being said, it is very important that I preface this by saying this is my experience after contacting the USDA and PPA (the photographers trade association) and that I am sharing this information with you because it was very difficult to get anything but a vague answer from several people and I don’t want anyone operating under misinformation. If you have any questions regarding this for your own business or a session you have scheduled, please do contact the USDA or PPA yourself and ask them specifically about your situation.

little girl dancing with a rabbit, Alice in Wonderland, bunny photos, little girl and a bunny, children with rabbits, Seattle photographer, whimsical photography, Seattle child photographer, best Seattle child photographer, Seattle children

Ok, so maybe you’ve seen this little gem of an article (titled “Bunnies and chiclets and children, oh my!”)? Over the past week or so, it has gone pretty viral in the photography industry. I saw it about a week ago and just sat quietly by and watched it get reposted time and time again; I wasn’t worried about it because I was confident that my upcoming bunny sessions are totally legit. And then I got a certified letter in the mail from the USDA yesterday, which obviously sent me into freakout mode trying to figure out what I did wrong (turns out nothing, just as I thought) and how to fix it so I didn’t have to cancel on my clients. This certified “letter” was really a certified package with about 20 pages of paperwork with various titles having to do with fees and licenses and items and classes and exhibitors along with a book on the Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed and my head was spinning. I immediately called the USDA and was transferred to the Washington office. I was very up front and nice about why I was calling and told her my exact situation regarding the bunny mini sessions and my style and niche of photography. She told me that I have photos of animals on my website, which meant I was in direct violation of the law, because I did not have a license to do so. I told her I was confused since I had researched this after reading the aforementioned blog post and this was the first I was hearing of this law and asked her if she could please clarify a few questions for me; every question was eventually met with “I sent you the information, read it.” Well, now that isn’t very helpful, is it? I told her I was more than happy to read it and had in fact already looked through much of it, but I was overwhelmed and confused because I did not see A SINGLE THING regarding photography and photographers, let alone something as specific as my situation and could she pretty please just direct me where to look, which form, which chapter, ANYthing so I could begin to figure this out since she was certainly not going to help me in doing so. Again, no, figure it out yourself.

At this point I began asking specific questions, one of which was if the animals in the photo were clients’ pets, did the regulation still apply. I was told that yes, it absolutely still applied to any animal in the photo and any information I was reading from anywhere else was completely and totally wrong.

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This was utterly astonishing to me; what about photographing my child playing in the backyard with our dog, what about the family that brings their dogs to their session, what about the senior girl that wants to be photographed with her horse, what about the family that has urban chickens and goats, what about the pet photography industry?! Are you telling me that this is so closely regulated that I have to have a license to share a photo of a family with their beloved pet on my website? Or even my own children with an animal, be it our pet or not? This woman at the USDA would have you believe so. I found this to be so ludicrous that I contacted PPA and shared the conversation and the letter with them. The response from them was that the form letter I received was in line with the information on the PPA site about legally using animals in your photographs (sorry, you have to be a logged in member to read it) and to call the USDA back again and speak with someone that could answer my specific questions about my bunny sessions and that they had never heard of pets (or pet photography) being regulated like this.

Fast forward to a couple hours ago when I got a call from the Washington state USDA veterinary inspector. Again, I presented my situation to her and asked her about pets, animal handlers, and work already on my website (you may have seen ponies, rabbits, and chickens…). She assured me that I was 100% legal and doing it right but that the USDA has an obligation to follow through when complaints are filed against people. Wait. Whaaaaaa? Yes, you read that right. Someone filed a complaint against me (I thought this was all waaaay too coincidental for the USDA to have just found me and suddenly decided that I was someone they needed to pursue) but I will get to that in a minute.

I want to make it VERY clear that this is the information I received from the USDA inspector today, 3/19/2013 at about 1:40pm PST:

  • You can use client pets, no matter how exotic they are, as long as the client is present.
  • Rabbits are regulated, but this is an easy workaround as long as you hire a professional handler that is licensed (I am using Bunnies for Birthdays, she is licensed and she has her sweet little baby bunnies well socialized to be around children.) and will be on hand to take care of the animals during your shoot.
  • Horses are not regulated (I think she may have even said that donkeys and goats are also fine, but do not quote me on that) for photos.
  • Birds are not regulated for photos.
  • Reptiles are not regulated for photos.
  • Rodents are not regulated for photos.

I hope this information makes the laws and regulations a bit more clear for at least one other person, if for no other reason than avoiding the (literal) headache that I’ve been dealing with for the past few days.

Now, back to this reporting business. Pardon my internet speak, but WTF? How have we come to a place in this industry where we are so full of nastiness and envy that we resort to shaming and turning on each other? The blog post I mentioned before specifically says “Because a professional would rarely use animals with or without a license. In fact, VERY few professional photographers offer this option at all. If they do, it is in a VERY controlled environment and no one is allowed to touch the animals. In fact, generally the use of animals is considered highly NON-PROFESSIONAL by the majority of professional photographers. Since I am a fine art photographer, I also expect my works to be put on fine papers and canvas finishes to be hung and treasured forever in my client’s home. An image like this is not going to be a “forever” portrait.” So, that is one person’s opinion, we are all allowed to have our own opinions (however wrong they may be;)), but how DARE you shame the rest of us that choose to use animals in our own fine art work and call us non-professional?! Barb Uil of JinkyArt, a trusted friend of mine and one of the most well respected photographers in the industry is known for putting animals in her child portraits and, in fact, recently won an award for her work that was chosen by members all across the photography industry. Then further down in that blog post she says “To see if your photographer is licensed according to the Animal Welfare Act, you can go to the USDA – APHIS databank. I spoke with the USDA, as of March 8 2013 this data bank is current.” Or, you know, JUST ASK. Instead of jumping to conclusions thinking that the photographer in question is being unethical, just be honest with your concerns and ask them. If they are not happy to divulge the specifics, that would certainly throw up a red flag for me, at which point I would definitely inquire further, but until then, can we all just be a bit nicer? I just am so flabbergasted that a member of such a tight-knit industry would respond like this, especially since I have made it very clear all along that I have hired a legit business to bring their well-socialized bunnies to me. I can see no real reason, beyond just being mean-spirited, that someone would react in such a way. Truthfully, I really don’t care how much you hate me or dislike my work because I am confident in who I am as a person and as an artist; to take the time out of your day to go through the governmental hoops to report me to a governmental agency when you have no evidence that I am doing anything unethical or illegal speaks volumes to the type of person that is doing this… and I just can’t understand why.

So to all my fellow photographers out there, this is my plea to you: Can we all just get along? I’m not even asking you to love everyone’s work or falsely praise it or even to be bffs with your local competition. I just want us all to live in peace together, regardless of how unqualified you think someone else’s work is or how much you despise someone. We are all in this ever-changing game together and when one photographer lashes out at another it really causes a ripple effect, even when done anonymously. Focus on being the best you that you can be, get over the jealousy and the envy, and carry on with your life in peace. If you truly have a concern about the safety of a child, client, or animal, please just quietly ask the photographer about it before jumping to conclusions. Above all, respect your fellow humans and be the best person you can be.

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Dawn - Well done!!

Michele - To this I say . . . kudos.

suzyb - Considering oodles of non-pros enter our industry every day but think a fancy camera and a blog make them a pro, it’s no surprise that there is a huge lack of professional conduct and courtesy in our ‘workplace.’ Nice article and great points, sadly I don’t think for many of these dingdongs will get the message. Beautiful work and thanks for sharing xo

Charlotte - I love how well you wrote this! I think if you don’t like something, then learn to turn your head. These photographers, or even people that are turning us in, do not know if we have the correct things in order, or how we handle safety issues at our sessions! I’m with you, my bunny went through several trips to insure that it was in law, and even went through several shots, and I have a valid record along with a certified letter from the vet. It is a shame that they assume the worse. What if we turned every newborn photographer in for showing a picture of a newborn hanging from a treat and considered it “fowl play” because they didn’t post a composite, or even mention it was a composite. People always want something to complain about in this industry, and I’ve just learned to mind my own business and what I am doing. I know I abide by laws, those turning others in may want to look at what they are doing!

Jane - I’m sorry to hear what you had to deal with! There is only one reason this sort of thing happens: JEALOUSY. The individual that did this is so jealous of you and your business that she wanted to cause you trouble and was hoping your business would suffer. Pathetic. When I saw that post going around, I didn’t touch it. I’m beyond fed up with the big name bullies in the industry that strive to intimidate. If your competition is jealous, keep up the great work!!

Jamie - Well said! Kudos to you.

Stacie - Thank you so much. After my own digging I found the same. I took the time to panic and have a little melt down but thank you so much for putting this out there.

dee - I am still sitting her blinking in astonishment that someone has nothing better to do with their lives than try to find fault in someone else’s even when there is NONE! Amazing. I am so sorry you had to go through this but what a wonderful educational lesson you presented for everyone else in how how to process the whole situation. Great job!

lauri - Well said. I had no idea this was all still such a big issue among photographers, but now that I’ve read some of the recent blogs out there on the subject, well…you just have to consider the source.

Laura Brown - Well done. People are mean and they love to see you fail. Good job for being proactive. I actually called a veterinary friend who has several USDA connections…they told him the same thing. Thank for you for the reassurance. We hope your bunny session is very successful.

Victoria Campbell - I am so glad I read this…I too am doing the same thing for mini sessions…and hired a handler…had no idea there were such “laws” and value the work other photographers do with photographing pets with families {this is something I rarely had the chance to do}…kudos to you and yes this is bullying at its finest!

Melissa Garcia - This is good information to know, thank for you clarifying things and I’m sorry that someone had to be sneaky behind your back instead of in your face about it.