Welcome! I'm Shawna, an on-location natural light photographer from Kent, WA serving the greater Seattle and South Sound area. My passion is for birth photography! In birth or family sessions, I strive to capture details and the spontaneous moments that truly reflect the beauty in your life, and that you will treasure for ever. Sit back with a cup of coffee and enjoy my musings, or better yet - pop me an email and introduce yourself. I love meeting new people!

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree*

So we continue our little How-To series with How to Decorate a Christmas Tree*

*when you are two

First, find your shiniest ormanenns.

Begin by placing each ornament on the tree at shoulder height.

This will create an even, orderly garlandesque appearance.

Indulge the adults when they insist the decorations be spaced out along the height of the tree. (It makes them feel better about themselves.)

When you find a good sturdy branch, use it for all it's worth.

And don't forget, ornaments can hold their friends, too!

Most importantly, do not forget to admire your masterpiece with giddy (maniacal) laughter.


a little advice

I'm headed out of town for the weekend and can be reached by phone if necessary. Regularly scheduled sporadic posting will resume upon my return. I have a fantastic sunset session that I can't wait to share, and of course photos of the family I will be visiting this weekend!

In the mean time, my dear friends Ronnie and Greg will demonstrate how to get a sleepy baby to smile for family photos:


Taking better tree and ornament photos!

Requests are starting to flood in - "What is the best way to photograph my tree?"


For the camera HOW TOs, please follow the links I have posted below.

But for the WHAT to photograph, I encourage you to really ask yourself what you love and want to remember, and fill your frame with only that. Maybe it's the way the tree squishes the ceiling or your dog curls up at the base, or the ornaments start at 3ft high because of little miscreants in the house. Tell the story of where your ornaments came from, the way one makes light sparkle, or just how heavily it weighs on the branch.

If you are someone who has kids (or cats! you know cats...), you know that there is no such thing as just an ornament. For one month, life revolves around these fun and glittering toys scattered across the house.

As a child I had my favorites and couldn't WAIT to reconnect with them each Thanksgiving. Tinkerbell, a pompom puppy in a box, a sled, a singing Rudolf at our neighbor's house, and my favorite sparkling spider web.

As you can imagine, this is Bella's favorite decoration:

And the photo I love most is not in focus but tells the story so much better. That poor snowman couldn't sit alone for more than ten minutes at a time.

Those are the things I want to remember about my tree.

I didn't take many photos last year as I had just moved, was newly pregnant and very ill. We made snowflakes instead and put them in letters to friends. This year I hope to string popcorn garlands to get into the season.

The few images I did take last year are treasures to me.

Oh and don't forget the annual Christmas Ornament Self Portrait!

I could go on about pretty things forever, but now that you know WHAT to photograph, I will direct you to two other wonderful posts on the technical aspects of photographing your tree.

This one is a great overview, written by the amazing Carey Schumacher on how to photograph your tree, focus on the ornaments, and fix the white balance after the fact.

Then there's another on Me Ra Koh's blog with a great overview and perspective on WHY whitebalance matters.

Go check them both out and then post your favorite ornament photos in the links!


A Most Welcome Snow Day

Well, I had to postpone my class last week (it will now run until Tuesday, Dec. 6, so come join us!) but it was for a worthy cause:

That's right, we got a freak November snowstorm right before Thanksgiving! Have I mentioned just how much I love snow? Last year we had maybe one flurry, so this year we had better make up for it. Bella was a wee little babe last time she experienced snow, and she quickly realized that no matter how badly you want to run outside (naked), the snow is cold and stings. Oh, that treacherous snow.

Just before dark, we ran outside to make a snowman (Bella is slightly obsessed and it dawned on my she had never made a REAL snowman before.) and then immediately ran back in when the sky started chucking icy sleet pellets at us.

We thoroughly enjoyed the snow, inside and out.

Much to our surprise, the next day dawned bright and beautiful. Out here, snow is usually followed by clouds and rain. To have a clear day the following morning was magical!

The entire neighborhood took to sledding down our main road. They were sledders from dawn until well into the night. You never realize how many neighbors you have until something brings everyone out of their homes!

Sure, it was less than half a foot, but it shut down the town, brought out the sleds, and became a snowfest to remember. Here's hoping there are many more to come this winter.


Thunder: Stranger number three

Well it's about time I put up another stranger photo for my 100 Strangers project. This one has been hanging out on my computer for three weeks now!(uhm, try three months... man this has been in my queue a while.)

Meet Thunder. That's his given name. Seriously, I asked. Short for Thunderstorm, if I remember correctly, which would be a most awesome name considering thunderstorms are one of my favorite things in the world.

Thunder works a stand at our local farmer's market on Tuesdays. I have to say, the Renton Farmer's Market, despite its short season is one of my favorites and I look forward to it all year. I was wandering around the market on my own (child-free time is a rare event for me!), just taking it all in and Thunder truly stood out in the crowd. I should have included more of his apron, because it was that pattern that struck me at first, and then his smile outshone it all when he greeted me. He truly has the most genuine and amazing smile.

Thanks, for being my third stranger, Thunder! I hope the off-season treats you well.


Just in time for the holidays!

Yesterday was like Christmas! I got two packages in the mail with photography products. I was so excited I dropped the scissors on my foot trying to get through all the tape! You'll be happy to know I cursed and whimpered and whined on Facebook and then got over it.

Let me show you what was in the first package today (the second is a funny story for tomorrow!).

I'm so excited to be offering Standout Wall Collections from ColorInc! I ordered a mini collection to display at Artist and Craftsman for the U-District Art Walk starting this Friday (come join me at the premier or stop by all month long!)

Here's a review of these Standout Wall Collections in a nutshell:
-Light and sturdy

Let's go a little more in depth:

The colors are bright and true, the details are clear, and the photographs are sturdy and resist fingerprints. (Hey, that's important to people like me!) They're mounted with a black edging and arrive ready to hang, so you don't have to promise yourself you'll put them up when you get around to buying a frame. (That's important to people like me!)

The awesome thing about these standout images is that they are light and affordable. Don't get me wrong, I love a beautiful canvas collection, but if you get antsy hanging thousands of dollars worth of art in a playroom, Standout Wall Collections are the way to go.

And when I say light, I mean LIGHT! Don't even worry about putting a nail in the wall for these. You could hang them no problem with 3M Poster Strips. Why does that rock?

You can put them up in kids' rooms and let them rearrange them at will.
Apartment dwellers and renters don't have to deprive themselves of colorful walls.
You can send them away with college kids and they can put them up anywhere since 3M products do not damage walls and will stick to anything!

There you have it- the freedom to decorate your walls with your own beautiful story and not worry.

Yep, they rock. And there's still time to get yours before the holidays!


Rainy day fun

When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much guarantee that if you book a session between November and March, it will rain. I mean, check it out: six inches of rain is average for November! So you can see now why July is my FAVORITE month to live here and take photos.

But back to the good stuff. I'm a lifestyle photographer. That means capturing the beautiful moments of people just living up life anywhere. Everyday moments like hanging out at a cafe are worth remembering - in fact they are just what you miss when you grow up.

This mini session got rained out (poured out, really, since I was prepared to shoot in the drizzle) so we headed indoors to Urbia Fresh Cafe, a new cafe right in downtown Kent where the food and drink are local and the staff are awesome and accommodating.

This family rocked the indoor session! Board games, smoothies, dancing and hugfests. I love my job because basically it's hanging out with awesome people, snapping some photos along the way.

Moments in life just don't get better than this:

Michelle, Aaron and Miranda, thank you so much for this laid back session. Your family is sweet and goofy and loving , and definitely warmed up my rainy morning.

***As if I have to remind you by now, but be sure to leave them some comments! When they hit 20, they get a free 8x10 print! :O)***


The Engagement Mini

Lauren and Brian are engaged! I happen to know Lauren through knitting and was so excited when she shared the big news. A Holiday Mini Session turned out to be just what they needed for engagement photos!

The rain had JUST stopped before their shoot, so I ran right over from the cafe session I was doing to meet them at the park. The trees were still sneezing on us as we tromped up and down the muddy hills, and these guys were superstars about it!

Apart from all the love in the air, my favorite thing about engagement sessions is getting a glimpse of just how gorgeous the bride will be. Lauren was absolutely beautiful, and I cannot wait to see her on her wedding day.

Brian's daughter, Elaine, joined us as well. She is so sweet and so funny, and I wished I'd had an entire session with them together. They're such a fun group. Thanks so much for a great mini session!

***Don't forget to leave them good wishes here on the blog! When this post reaches 20 comments, they get a free 8x10. Woohoo!!***

P.S. Next week is a great big week - two chances to join me in Seattle at Artist & Craftsman. Tuesday at 5:30 for the first of three photo classes and again on Friday for the opening of the U-District Art Walk!

P.P.S. Who's as excited as I am about Harry Potter? Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!


A Mini Sneak Peek!

Oh my goodness. This year's mini sessions were so much fun. Of course, out of the entire week, THAT was the day it rained. It cleared up in time for a few muddy outdoor sessions, though! (And yes, oh yes, I slipped and fell in the mud.)

Let me just warn you - the family in the following photos is too cute for words. They picked out some awesome clothes to go with the foliage, and of course, little Wyatt was a perfect match sporting that snazzy red hair!

Wyatt was a bit of a milk-drunk space cadet for the first part of the shoot and spent most of the time enjoying the scenery.

There is no doubt about it; this boy is loved. He is lucky to grow up in a family with so much laughter. (AND FIREFLY, just sayin'. They've got good taste, too.)

We did get Wyatt smiling a bit towards the end. Laura really wanted a shot of his awesome dimple (cute x1000) and what I love about this shot is that Karl has the same expression. :O)

I had so much fun with you guys. Thanks for braving the slippery bridge and mud with me. (And Karl, if you can't find another pair of Wyatt's awesome socks, Laura will just have to learn to knit socks next!)

***Be sure to leave some love for Laura and Karl here on the blog! When this post reaches 20 comments, they get a free 8x10. Sweet!***


Autumn snafu

Well, we tried. I thought it would be fun to go out and rake and jump in leaves on the one dry day of fall. Bella had fun. Her first real leaf pile was wonderful as I remembered it as a kid. It was everything we had hoped and more. She threw leaves, ate leaves, crunched leaves, and used them as a pillow to stare up into the sky.

And then there was Lillia.

I should have foreseen this. She hates the sound of anything that crinkles and crunches. I started raking and she screamed so hard and so suddenly I thought I had hurt her. Nope. It was just the sound. I got her to sit in the pile if we were very quiet... but there was no convincing her it was fun. Oh well, I guess it will just have to be a love shared by Bella and me.


another field day

(The usual suspects)

T'is the season - for pumpkins! Out here it is hard to resist making the most of every sunny day. You'll notice that it might just have poured for a few days prior to our trip to the pumpkin patch.

We didn't take home any pumpkins this time. Bella was purely there for the cart ride.
I mean, that's not to say she doesn't appreciate a good hop in the mud, but if it's a choice between a puddle and a chariot, the chariot will win any day.

Thomas on the other hand... well he's a mover.

He may or may not have gotten in a little over his head. Bystanders were laughing and staring and, indeed, one said indignantly, "Where is his mother?" as we stood by and watched him play.

I do believe Thomas got to ride home in his diaper that day.

Stay tuned, because I was so excited to come across that tree in the first photo and I managed a few cute sessions there! And NOW, excuse us. We are off to hop in some leaf piles!


New Classes

I'm excited to announce a three part class to be held at the Artist & Craftsman Supply studio in the University District! They offer some pretty awesome art classes of all types for adults and kids, and I'm looking forward to taking part in them.

My three classes will set you up with a new perspective on taking photos, and the concepts you learn can be applied to any camera. With a 2 hour class you can come after work and not be overloaded with too much info at once. And if you sign up for the whole series, you get a discount. Sweet!

Check out the details below and contact me at
sweetriverphotography @ gmail . com
to sign up today!

Oh, and if you want to get the latest information on classes at A&C, be sure to let me know and we'll sign you up!

Better Photos

with any camera

Tuesday Evenings
November 16th-30th

$50 for all three or $20 drop-in.

Please bring your digital camera.

Class 1: Finding the story.
Class 2: Creative composition.
Class 3: Using perspective.

Artist & Craftsman Supply
4350 8th Avenue NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 545-0091


Pumpkin Fun

What do you get when you mix a two year old and a field of pumpkins? Perma-grins.

We finally went to a pumpkin patch this year. I spent the whole time trying to remember why I could only think of Bella as a six month old. Then I remembered that we did go pumpkin picking last year, but I was full into the sickening pregnancy haze that I am amazed I even took photos.

This year I tried for a family outing. How cute would it be to compare Lillia and Bella at the same age in a pumpkin field! And, gasp, a potential family photo for once? But instead we did it as a Mommy Date. Bella was much in need.

Bella was in heaven - Pumpkin friends all around and a lengthy ride on a Wheeeee! (Bella's vocabulary for anything that can be dragged for her enjoyment, including -but not limited to- chairs and laundry baskets.)

The golden hour was around and beautiful families were everywhere. I had to resist the urge to stop every other family to offer portraits. This is why everyone needs a family photographer, seriously! So next year, when you start shuffling through your old photos, you won't come across unrecognizable faces squinting into the sun next to giant cardboard pumpkin cut outs. You'll have memories of the way your baby (I'll milk that word as long as I can) saw a field of pumpkins, put out her arms and said, "Want hoo? Pleeaaaz?" because she wanted to hold each and every one.

And how tiny she looked in the field when I finally convinced her to get off the Whhheeeeeeee! for two seconds. And the way she filled her arms up with gourds. And the way she stared at the various families, soaking them up, studying them in detail as she always does when we go out. And of course the way she played with her new friends all night as Lia looked on in amazement. Those are the memories I can't let go.


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