Looking Back on 2021 (OR, 2021 in Review: Part II)


Continuing from the beast that was Part I, let’s keep looking back on 2021 and focus on the latter half of the year because hoo boy did a lot happen in the latter half of the year. To keep things neat and tidy, I’ll divide each month up between client and personal work.

June 2021: Client Work

I made it a point this summer to do more model calls and shoot in places I’ve had on my mind for ages. First up was Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend with some dear friends and their family who were in town.

I also resolved to say yes to more things that sparked my interest and challenged me creatively. So when I was approached by a friend of a client to photograph their baptism, I immediately said yes. It was such an honour to capture that special day and to see family reconnect and celebrate their newest little addition. Thank you once again to them for being so lovely and welcoming to little old me. I promise next time I do a baptism, my inner Catholic will kick in and I’ll remember it’s now “and also with your spirit” and not “and also with you” when the Father says “peace be with you.”

June 2021: Personal

With vaccines and warmer weather, we embarked on our first of three (3!) trips back to Montana this year, this one with just me and the littles. After the nightmare of 2020 and the stress and adjustments necessary to make it through the first half of 2021, a trip back to places more familiar felt extremely necessary.

We did a few days in Bozeman, the town where my husband and I went to college, to see the Museum of the Rockies and the dinosaur playground. I still remember when they were starting to just talk about building that playground in North Bozeman. Now there’s a ton of houses and a new high school there, too. I immediately applied for a senior citizen discount upon returning home.

Our longest stint of the trip was back with the grandparents up in Kalispell. We spent a few days playing outside, learning to fish, and spending some much-needed time together after so long apart.

We spent a wonderful morning out at Somers Bay on Flathead Lake. It was lovely to be out in the sun and playing in the water, especially knowing we were missing a massive heat wave back home in Seattle, a place that was never built to withstand temperatures above 90 for more than a week. It was roughly the same temperature in Kalispell but thankfully our AirBnB had A/C. Shouts out to them.

July 2021: Personal

The small one learned to fish! He loved everything about it but wasn’t entirely sure about the touching the fish part (it was catch and release). He’s a big helper and loves to learn how things are done, so he was way more interested in casting his line and reeling it in than touching the fish (but that’s why we bring Grandpa). Next: ice fishing?

One thing I’ve been loving, especially looking back on 2021, is how much my littles have become interested in photography. I love having kids of all ages at sessions learn about photography, whether that’s learning to press a button, seeing how ISO and exposure work, or understanding the mechanics of aperture. My littles are still at the “press the button make the picture show up on the screen” stage but this year, I noticed my oldest starting to pay more attention to framing and focus. The above picture is one he took after taking the time to set up his shot, concentrate, and press the shutter.

Later in July, we travelled back to Montana yet again for my husband’s 20 year high school reunion in Missoula. I made myself leave my big camera at home so I could focus on spending family time together and meeting new friends and seeing old ones (whom I only mostly remembered from his 10 year reunion haha whoops). Also, wrangling feral children while juggling a camera? Pretty hard!!

July 2021: Client Work

Like I said above, I wanted to do more shooting in new places, so in early July when it looked like we’d have a lovely span of weather after the 4th of July, I put out a model call to see if any families would be willing to head on the ferry over to Vashon Island with me. I lucked out in finding both another West Seattle family who was game and one family who already lived on Vashon! Thank you to both families both for coming out with me on what ended up being a cloudier day than we imagined (it was sunny at the ferry dock!!) and making that massive hike down to the beach with me.

More from this session can be found in this here post.

I also just want to say how happy I was this second family answered my model call. I absolutely adore working with little kids but there’s a different kind of joy you get with sessions with older kids. And you can make them run around more and wear them out — you’re welcome, parents.

August 2021: Personal

August (and September, but we’ll get there) was exactly what I needed. The tall one finished his summer school and we went on our last trip back to Montana of 2021, this time to spend a week on Flathead Lake with the grandparents. We celebrated my husband’s birthday, felt genuinely relaxed for the first time in 18 months, the kids got plenty of quality time with the grandparents, and my husband and I even got some quality time alone for the first time in 5 years!

I could photograph this lake forever.

I’ll be doing a longer post on this later separate from my 2021 in review but this day with my husband was exactly what we both needed. We got 11 blissful hours alone as we took a day trip up to Glacier, went on a surprise 6 mile hike (all the smaller hikes we’d planned to do, the parking lots were already full before 9AM) and I got lots of chances to try out my new 20mm Rokinon lens. More on that lens later.

I did do some sessions in August but both those families requested their images stay off the socials and I will respect that and move on to…

September 2021: Personal

After coming back from Montana more relaxed than we had been in years, it was time to start prepping for both kids to go back to school in person and for me to start up my busy Fall with lots of family sessions. It was also time for me to start prepping for my first solo trip in four (4!) years (!!!).

I also made the decision to buy a film camera again. I grew up shooting on film (didn’t move to digital until college) and I missed the challenge and delayed gratification that comes with it. It’s an entirely different kind of art; there’s a timelessness to it. So in early September, I bought an Olympus OM-1 and named him Koji after Mukai Koji, photographer and member of the J-pop group, Snow Man.

Part of my hope with these images is that my kids get the same kind of joy seeing film photos and film prints of themselves that I did growing up.

Some of our outings with Koji: up the Kitsap Peninsula, to see sunflowers in Carnation, and on the Southworth ferry. Also, the SoDo Costco.

At the end of the month, I took my first solo trip in years up to Fairbanks, Alaska. I still follow a couple flight/travel deal blogs and when in June I saw there were good deals on flights to Fairbanks, I jumped at the chance. I’d wanted to go to Alaska since I was a kid and what better place to go be mostly by yourself to reconnect with yourself than the Alaskan interior. More on this trip, my itinerary, and all that later but I do just want everyone to know the interior is gorgeous and also I finally saw the Northern Lights (that 20mm? I bought for this trip).

September 2021: Client Work

September is about when my client work starts to kick into high gear as everyone (including me!) realizes, “oh, dag, it’s fall, time to get those photos done.” It’s one of my favourite times of the year as I get to see mini session clients from years past, like this family who I absolutely adore beyond words.

I also want to just real quickly shout out all my fall families this year: the weather this year was just brutal every single weekend (and even some weeknights!!!) when we went to shoot. The rain alone was bad enough but the wind this year was just killer, so I want to again thank everyone for their flexibility on moving sessions around (both on days and sometimes locations!) and for being game to just go out and give it all a go, rain or shine.

October 2021: Client Work

October is about where my personal work stops (at least for the purposes of this post; still gotta develop that fall film roll). Late September to honestly the end of December was just a whirlwind of shoots, reschedules, and more shoots.

It was also the first time I got to do photos at Infinity Farm out in Issaquah. They’ve put their heart and soul into the various installations and we had such fun doing them together as a family for fall session promos. Super excited to see what next year looks like!

My first round of sessions went off without a hitch in spite of all the rain we got that weekend (and that day!). This first family was so full of joyful energy with just that little bit of chaos. I had a blast.

Sessions with single moms are always that much more special to me, having grown up raised by one. So it was a joy and an honour to capture three generations of this sweet family!

I have far too many sessions to blog from this fall, so let’s skip ahead a little bit to some more previews. Like this one with this beautiful family who won my cherry blossom mini giveaway and gave me the chance to a) see them again (which I always love!); and b) gave me the opportunity to do my first in-home newborn session since the panini! More on this session later, it still makes my heart soar.

Last, I wrapped up the month photographing the West Seattle Monster Dash for the second year in a row — this time with 100% more people!! More of that day is over this way.

November 2021: Client Work

November was yet another month of rain and wind and reschedules. Not gonna lie to you guys: it was stressful. But I was still so thankful for all my families (and couples!) who were so understanding and flexible. Let’s all hope for a less rainy and windy Fall 2022.

We only had a short window to do this engagement session, and we literally timed it just perfectly between squalls. Also, got to pet a cute dog. Never gonna turn down a chance to photograph and pet a cute dog.

Second round of photos at Infinity Farm, this time with the holiday installations! Way too many cute photos to pick, so have these previews for now! I’ll do a big roundup of my fall and winter sessions there… sometime before next fall and/or winter.

This session is a reminder to get family photos with your teens as they get older. Seriously, teens are so much fun.

It was such an honour and a delight to photograph one of our preschool’s teacher’s family. They hadn’t had photos since they adopted their youngest. Y’all, photos are so important and so special.

December 2021: Client Work

Our final month of the year! And also somehow my busiest in the shortest amount of time? I need to shout out my husband for being extra supportive this month while I cranked out 11 sessions, start to finish, in one (1) Gregorian calendar week, most of which I photographed on one single day.

To round out the year saying yes to more things, I jumped at the chance to photograph this family at the little park by the ferry dock here. I’d been wanting to explore and shoot at that park for a long time and when they suggested incorporating that as a location? You bet I said yes immediately.

My longest day of minis ever out at Infinity Farm on what was a sunny but chilly day. Thank you to all the families who asked if I was doing holiday minis there; it was a joy to see you! Here’s a quick roundup because I have too many photos I love from all your sessions so I’m limiting myself to just one each.

Last, I finished the year with this cozy in-home session, complete with LEGO, hot cocoa, and discussing the mutual intelligibility of Danish and Norwegian. I’ve so desperately missed doing in-home sessions like these the past two years and I’m so thankful to end the year with my proverbial cup overflowing. We originally planned for this to be at the beach but when I almost got blown away walking to my car that morning, we called an audible and I’m so glad we did.

In Conclusion

This was by far my most successful year. It was my busiest, but one lesson I learned early on in this here photography business thing is that busyness does not equal success. Being busy can mean you’re in demand but it can also mean you’re running yourself ragged chasing things that don’t make you happy or challenge you. So this year was another year of making sure I was constantly checking in with myself to be sure I was shooting what I wanted to shoot in the way I wanted to shoot it.

I sat down to write this post thinking I didn’t have very much to write about and ended up having to cut so much out, to say nothing of splitting it into two separate posts (probably could have split it further, honestly). And as I look back on everything I’ve done, I’m again filled with joy and pride. I got into photography as a kid to capture what was precious to me; I decided to do photography as a career after I had my own kids because I wanted to help capture what was precious to others. I’m the kind of person who loves to create and to see the fruits of my labour. I love going through the process of getting to know clients, working with them in a way that’s unique to them, and reflecting that uniqueness back to them.

Whatever your reason for getting photos taken (holiday cards, engagements, new additions, or even just because), that’s important and deserving of preservation. Thank you to every single family who trusted me to capture your most precious lives and help you create memories in 2021.

Looking Forward to 2022

Continuing with the theme of saying yes to the things that excite me, 2022 will see me focusing more on longer sessions and creating memories with clients in a way that reflects how I like to create (documentary, telling stories authentically). You’ll see greater focus on longer sessions in places near and far, along with some new goodies.

Coming in 2022 for your photo sessions:

  • Film!!! I’ve loved documenting my own life on film these past few months and I would be honoured to capture yours on film, also
  • Prints!!! Both film and digital, or just film or just digital
  • Albums!!! You’ll have the option to have me design an album of your digital images, film images, or both. I’ve created some for myself of my own photos and I can’t tell you how precious it already is it to me. Plus, such higher quality than the albums we had growing up.

Whether 2022 is as busy as 2021 in terms of client work, that’s not a metric I’m going to focus on. This is now my fifth year of being a family photographer and I finally feel like I’m in a place where I can offer these goodies and, most importantly, in a place that I trust myself to offer them. I’m so much more confident now than I was even two years ago and I have a much clearer vision of how to make this business a real reflection of my creative visions.

Thank you again to all my families in 2021 and years past, and to all those I’ll be meeting in 2022.

If you’re picking up what I’m putting down and your vision for your photos lines up with mine, can I interest you in a photo session?


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