Ahh, senior prom.  Seems like just yesterday.

Sort of.

It was really fun to meet up with Adam and Gabby near one of Gilbert, Arizona’s classic landmarks…the silos!  These were taken at the Farm Bureau, and I loved having the opportunity to capture their memories in a location that really screams Gilbert!  We lucked out with perfect lighting thanks to some cloud cover, and got some great shots.  These two really looked fantastic, and they went on to have a fun evening together.

Just a disclaimer:  I did NOT make them climb a tree…although I have to say, I dig their adventuresome spirit!  

Want to see more of these two?  Stay tuned for Adam’s senior portrait session!  Coming soon!!  





I often get asked for advice on what to wear for a photo shoot.  Here are my recommendations for achieving a cohesive, timeless look that you’ll love and photographs well.

For the Individual:

1.  Choose something you love.  Feeling awesome shows, so make sure you pick something that makes you feel like a million bucks.  Choose clothes for your little ones that both of you adore.

2.  Aim for timeless.  I’m sure we’ve all looked back at old photos and looked at our clothing choices and thought, “What was I thinking?”  Look for pieces that will stand the test of time.

3.  Light colors photograph well.  Avoid super bright shirts, as colors can reflect back onto faces.  I love color, but instead try adding pops of color with accessories.

4.  Avoid crazy prints.  Busy patterns can be distracting to the viewer’s eye and pulls attention away from your face.  A successful portrait makes a connection between the viewer and the subject, so you want the focus to be on you and your face, not competing with your clothes.

5.  Accessorize.  The little details make a big difference.  Really think about your accessories and choose pieces that you love.  Don’t forget about these details when styling your kids, and pay attention to things like shoes and socks.

For the Family:  Use the techniques above as well as these when building the family look.

6.  Aim for cohesive, not matchy-matchy.   We all remember the days of family photos where the whole family is wearing jeans and white tops barefoot on the beach.  Although, that does make it cohesive, it doesn’t celebrate each individual personality.  My biggest advice is to look at the outfits all together as a whole.  They don’t have to match, but they do need to look good next to each other.

If you want, you can pull in little elements from each individual that do match, but make it subtle.  For example, Mom’s shoes might match daughter’s hair accessory, and that color might also be seen in Dad’s shirt.  This is where little pops of color could work nicely and add some pizazz.

7.  Start with Mom.  If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  It is usually easiest to start with Mom’s outfit choice and build around that.

Hair and Makeup:

8.  Makeup:  Obviously, this doesn’t apply to kids and dads, but if you fall into the category of someone who normally wears makeup, just wear a little more than you usually do.  Don’t go overboard with this, you want to look like yourself, but a little more than you would typically wear usually works great.  If you are like me and typically consider chapstick you lipstick, definitely opt for the real lipstick.

9.  Hair:  You know your hair best, so do your hair how you feel it looks good, but if you are deciding between hair up and down, down is definitely the way to go.  Hair has a lovely way of framing your face, and a little hair blowing in the breeze all of a sudden takes a portrait to another level.


This session was FANTASTICALLY fun.  Its not every day that you get to go on a bike ride with two people you adore to a place that makes your heart happy.  Bikes + gardens + friends = a recipe for a magical evening.

These two love birds live around the corner from me and for their engagement session we hopped on our bikes and headed to the Agritopia Community Garden.  Zach is a mountain biking champ so it was only appropriate that we included bicycles in some fashion.  They were so much fun to work with, we laughed a lot!  Their love for each other is so sweet, and I loved being the one to capture it on camera.


I thought I’d bring you inside my home and let you know what we’ve been up to this week.  I have been conducting my semi annual toy purge.  I know this is an area where many moms struggle (seriously, how do the toys just keep multiplying?) so I thought I’d share my recipe for the ultimate toy purge.

First, I would suggest picking up a copy of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  The book not only covers simplifying toy collections, but many other areas of childhood as well.  I honestly feel like I should read it on a yearly basis to keep myself in check and keep our lives simple.  If you’re interested in purchasing it, I will shamelessly plug my amazon associates link here.  🙂


Less is definitely more with kids.  Kim John Payne puts it simply, “A smaller, more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement.  An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm.”  

I think we can all imagine a mountain of toys and the overwhelming quality that invokes.  Nothing can truly be valued if it is in a big heap.

Just so I know you really get it, lets do a little exercise.

In adult terms I like to relate this to going shopping for clothes.  Close your eyes and imagine a very clean, simple, and well laid out boutique with few items.   You are more likely to engage and be more interested in the items on display.  They also appear to be of high quality.  You can tell the shop owner was very intentional when deciding what to sell.  It feels good to shop here.

Now close your eyes and imagine walking into one of those discount stores with clothes of all types jam packed onto the racks from wall to wall.  You need to find a shirt, but there are so many choices, and the way they are displayed, whether they are or not, they look of low quality.

Feel the difference?

The toy purging recipe that I’m going to share is a combination of what I’ve learned in Simplicity Parenting as well as techniques covered in various other decluttering books.  Yes, I’ve read many of the sort, we strive for minimalism in our house (keyword: strive).

The Recipe

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to simplifying your children’s toys.

1.  Take it all out.  Literally.  –  Ok so you can do this in sections, but take it out of the closet, the baskets, the bins, etc.  I’m talking every last piece.  Now take a look at that empty storage space and really take a moment to see the value in the empty space.  It is glorious, right?  Now remember this feeling.

2.  Start with the trash.  –  Get rid of the broken toys, the ones that are missing their pieces, and the junk.  Junk would be the freebies that you pick up here and there.  You don’t need these items, just pick them up and chuck them in the trash.  You read that right, don’t worry about donating them or passing them on (please don’t pass it on), go straight to the garbage.  Then take a moment to feel how good that feels.  Ahhh!

3.  Next, go through and look at each toy individually.  Use the following questions to identify the keepers.  Be very selective about this.    Remember that you are taking great value in the space, not the items.

  • Does it foster imagination, and does it invite deep complex play?
  • Is it open ended or does it have a more fixed quality.  By fixed I mean does it only have one way to play with it?
  • It is made of natural or quality materials?
  • Is it developmentally appropriate?  Get rid of the babyish toys, or the ones they can grow into (or at least put the latter ones away until they are ready for them).
  • Is it something that my child is in love with?  (An example of this would be my daughter’s Dusty Crophopper toy.  Although, it would definitely be considered a fixed toy, as would most character toys, I wouldn’t dare get rid of it.  If I did I’d have to sleep with one eye open.)
  • Is it annoying?  (Enough said)
  • Is it a very high stimulation toy? – aim for simple.
  • Do you have more than one of them?
  • Is it a toys that inspires friendly or corrosive play?  Payne describes the corrosive play category as a “you know it when you see it” category.

4.  What to do with what remains?  At this point you’ll have a bunch of toys that are not trash, but not members of the keeper group either.  You can go through these and decide which ones you can donate or give away.  Try to be selective about giving toys away to friends.  It isn’t nice to just give someone a giant box of toys you don’t want.  Make sure the person would actually want these items.  I tend to only give away my old “keepers” that my children have simply grown out of.

5.  What you have left after this, put into storage to rotate through the rest of the collection, or create a “toy library.”  The toy library is something that we’ve done and I love it.  We used to be more deliberate about “checking toys out,” but now the kids mostly know that the toy library isn’t something that we pull everything out of all at once.  We’ve also made the addition of putting all of the dumpable toys in the library, because no one likes all of the dumpable toys dumped at once.

6.  One last note.  Be careful what you bring in.  The more selective you are in what toys you bring into your home, the easier this process will be every time.

Thats it!  Hope that helps the mamas out there!

Speaking of helping out the mamas…if you would like to learn how to take better photos of those cute kids of yours, check out my MOMtography 101 class coming up on May 6th!  Grab your spot today!  

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