Ulusarac Family - Discovery Park


How do you prepare for a fall photo shoot with completely unknown weather variables in the Pacific Northwest? As a general rule, just prepare for any and all of it. Coats, vests, blankets, whatever is necessary for the elements. Will it rain? Probably. Is that ok? It all depends on you, but generally, I like some rain. Some. The day before I met the Ulusarac family for our Discovery Park session it had been absolutely pouring. I remained hopeful for our photo shoot as I looked at the forecast. There appeared to be a little window just after the time we were going to meet that looked good.  At 6:30am, I emailed to try to scoot us out 30-60 minutes to buy us a little more time. No dice. They already had a full calendar so our time would have to stick. Cut to our start time, it was perfection. The fog had just barely started to lift, and there was a break in Seattle’s grey and overcast sky just long enough for us to have one of my most memorable shoots to date. It was autumn at its finest. Fallen colorful leaves and moody skies made for the perfect backdrop for our session.


When I first met little Ela (with one “L,” she was very clear), she turned away shyly. I’m pretty accustomed to this initial reaction from most kiddos, and I anticipated we’d be looking at about 20 minutes or so before she’d warm up to me. Wrong again. Within about 5 minutes, she had discussed her Halloween plans with me, told me all about her pretty dress, and most importantly told me about the Snickers that was in her pocket that her mom said she could have once we were done at the end of our photo shoot. Did we photograph that? You bet we did. In addition to being a little actress slash model in the making, she’s a big sister now, and that brought a variety of precious moments as I tried to capture along with snippets of the full family and some couplings. Mom and Dad had to get in on the fun after all.


As we were finishing up with the photographs, we were perched over in the field overlooking the Puget Sound. I saw a couple of drops hit my lens and looked over towards the Olympic Peninsula. Rain was definitely headed our way.  Little did I know it would be so fast. We walked back to our cars and said our goodbyes and within a minute of shutting my door and turning on my engine a complete deluge of rain hit us. If we had changed our time even 15 minutes, we would have been soaked through. It’s never a dull moment around here capturing family photos in the fall and winter.


Windemuth Family - Washington Arboretum


Team Windemuth wanted fall foliage for this year’s family session.  Additionally, mom (Gina) had a very specific request given we’d be photographing her two wild and adorable boys, please give them room to run around.  Thankfully I had just the place, and the autumn leaves and weather cooperated with our shoot date. We ended up tucked away at the Washington Park Arboretum for a vibrant and carefree family photo shoot.


As all Seattle folks know, getting a decent fall day to get outside is always challenging, especially on the weekend but we lucked out, and I chased these kids (and their parents) around the park until the bathroom gods called and we had to high tail it back to the visitor’s center. Exploring with this crew never gets old and is always full of the best silly faces and glimpses of brotherly love.


Dia de los Muertos | A Paloma and a Playlist


The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated over the course of several days. It begins on October 31st and ends on November 2nd. During this time friends and family gather to remember and celebrate their deceased loved ones. Below I share a little of how I’ll be celebrating this year and share a recipe for a Paloma and a playlist for the occasion.  


I’ve been on my own personal journey recently around my relationship with death and after a viewing of the movie “Coco” earlier this year, it dawned on me that I could change that dynamic by trying a different approach. What’s absolutely beautiful about this holiday is that it’s not based in fear or scary Halloween-related visuals. Sure, there are skeletons involved, but really it’s about the lives that the deceased lived and a celebration of things they loved.


There are lots of great articles and videos out there that go into detail about the Aztec Ritual & Catholic tradition around All Saints Day that fused into modern manifestations of this holiday so I won’t get into too much of that here (highly recommend a good Google search, but this overview by Nat Geo is a good place to get started) but what I want to focus on are just a couple of ways that I plan on embracing the holiday in my own life this year.


As someone who has always had an aversion to skulls, I’m not going with full-blown skeletons around the house (except my fake longhorn pictured above) but I am going to prepare a celebratory feast, listen to some beautiful music from Mexico, and have a wonderful tequila-based cocktail that is famous throughout the country, the Paloma. Beneath my papel picado (the paper flags you often see throughout Mexico) I have a marigold plant surrounded by candles. This is where I will be placing my thoughts of love, gratitude, and appreciation for those that have gone before me. They say the dead are always with us and in my past, I think that idea used to just scare me. All representations we have about ghosts, the afterlife, and the idea of past lives are typically unpleasant. This re-framing of of an afterlife where we, the living, still get to connect with them in a special way on a regular basis is very comforting and beautiful to me. So if you’re feeling like you’d like to take a moment to remember your loved ones, consider taking some time between Oct 31st and Nov 2nd to enjoy some things they used to and celebrate their impact on your life. Cheers friends. May this feel as peaceful to you as it has been for me.


This is one of my favorite cocktails. It’s tangy and bright and it can be adjusted so easily to give it all sorts of new tastes. While commonly made with a grapefruit-flavored soda like Jarritos or Fresca, I opted for actual grapefruit juice. If you really want to mix it up, consider options like muddling in cilantro for herbaceousness, or jalapenos for heat, or a spicy salted rim for some spice. I’m a very make it up as you go kind of gal, but loosely:

In a salted rim glass add:

1.5 oz of tequila

.5 oz of lime juice

Then add ice and pour in grapefruit juice + soda to taste (and a smidge of simple syrup of you’d like it sweeter)

Spotfiy Playlist - Dia de los Muertos

This mix is a blend of sounds from Mexico during the 1940s-1960s (with a shout out to “Coco” at the end). These tunes are reflective of some personal favorites: beautiful percussion, swinging brass, and guitars that sing. One of the most interesting (and again, very research worthy) things I discovered upon trying to identify a specific genre or style to feature is that there is so much blending brought by travelers and immigrants from neighboring nations. It creates an incredible fusion musically that I really wish I knew more about and now I’m intrigued to learn more. This Wiki entry should get your rolling while you take a listen.  I hope you enjoy it.


Burns Family - Volunteer Park


I’ve photographed this awesome family since their first kiddo, and now they’ve blossomed into a powerhouse party of 5. Beth and James always crack me up with their humor every session we have, and it’s clear that they’ve passed on that silliness to their 3 girls. These ladies didn’t keep still for more than a second as we ran all around Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park. I was lucky if I even caught the blurs they were that fast.


This go around we had our beautiful family session in the fall so the dahlia garden was in full bloom and there were some autumn leaves in various parts of the park. Generally speaking though, the lush greens were the perfect backdrop for these sweet sister moments.  Watching the dynamics between siblings and also with their parents was hilarious. All personalities were in full display, including the newbie to the bunch, Chloe who kept her cool under pressure the entire time.


Bowe Family - Washington Arboretum


Being a twin must be such an interesting experience. You were born together, you know each other better than anyone else and you probably at times think that you have telepathy. What about when you’re a toddler and a twin? I recently photographed little Brooklyn and Lucy and their awesome parents for a fall family photo session over at the Washington Park Arboretum, and I just kept thinking, what is going on in your sweet little minds? Do you have some kind of radar on one another?


I was especially struck by how much they had grown since last year and how their personalities were on a new level. Little Lucy kept smiling for the camera and pausing to spend time with all the leaves and twigs, and Brooklyn was clearly very adventurous and just wanted to go explore the park. She revealed her smiles quickly and sneakily as though she knew I wanted nothing but to catch one in action.


For those who live in Seattle, if you haven’t been over to the arboretum yet, I highly recommend it for a little autumn fun with beautiful fall foliage.  I recently learned they have these fantastic seasonal tour maps (scroll down a bit on the page) of the park that are broken out by month so you can know what the plants, leaves, and trees are up to at any given time. Very helpful and made the experience that much more enjoyable.


Kerri & Marc - Radonich Ranch

San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch

Kerri and Marc are two of the most beautiful souls I’ve met, and it just warms my heart that they have found each other. Kerri is in social work, and Marc is a middle school teacher. They share a common passion for bettering the world and supporting others, and their circle of friends and family was wholly reflective of that sense of community. It was a special thing to witness.

San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch

They tied the knot in the Santa Cruz Mountains at stunning Radonich Ranch. Kerri went through the day with a certain poise, ease, and calm that could only exist when you are in the moment and happy beyond measure. She was radiant in a sleeveless wedding dress with intricate lace detail in the back. Marc makes her light up.

San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch Invitations
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch bouquet
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch

Marc absolutely beamed at Kerri throughout the day. During the first look, he couldn’t contain his tears and joy. It was just amazing. He sported an incredible tie with tropical birds of paradise, a tie clip with gold glasses, and a blue linen suit. Half his wedding party met in dance class (including a groomslady with stellar heels to kick her ensemble up to the next level). Their collective energy was infectious, and Marc’s big heart was on display throughout the day. At the end of the toasts, he encouraged all the guests to pass the love on. “Take the love with you. Call someone, tell them that they matter.” It was so beautiful. I was wiping away tears behind my lens.

San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch First Look
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch First Look
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch

The couple’s family and friends reflect the incredible people they are. The anchor of support each speech-giver offered was further confirmation that these bonds would only grow stronger and the arms of support would only grow broader. One speech was delivered as a heartfelt performance of a song. Not a dry eye in sight.

San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch First Look
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
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The backdrop for all of this, of course, was idyllic Radonich Ranch just outside of Los Gatos. The stunning venue is tucked away beneath the Santa Cruz Mountains next door to several wineries. It boasts a beautiful weeping willow, duck pond, and barn just perfect for guests to relax and enjoy the day. And did they ever! Guests were treated to fantastic local food, ice cream and cookies for dessert and absolutely spectacular music by arguably the best DJs in the San Francisco area. No joke, it took all I had to not dance and sing along with them the entire day.

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As the evening closed, I reflected on the warmth of the day. Everything was so open and full of vulnerability and love. It was a thing to behold. To cap it off on a personal note, I was able to photograph the day with my fabulous sister which made the whole experience that much sweeter. I take Marc’s words and share them here once more to all of you readers. Pass love on. “Take the love with you. Call someone, tell them that they matter.”

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Radonich Ranch Wedding San Francisco Dmotif Photography_0014.jpg
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch Wedding Party
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Radonich Ranch
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San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
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San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
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Santa Cruz Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
Santa Cruz Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
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San Francisco Wedding Photography Radonich Ranch
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Radonich Ranch Wedding Los Gatos California

This beautiful day was put together by a talented team of folks in the Bay Area.

Second Photographer: Marie Elliott | Venue: Radonich Ranch | Hair & Makeup: Stephanie Chin | Florist: Elaine Macasiray | DJs: Aim2Pleez | Day of Coordinator: Valerie Sien