The dark room smelled of chemicals with a faint hint of peat moss that always emanated from my Dad, his signature scent earned from years spent outside running Vaughn Nurseries. The blackness of the room broken only by a dim red light bulb didn’t scare me, but it was impossible to make out his expression even though he was standing right next to me.
Feeding a negative tray. Sliding it into the viewer. I felt so grown up when he let me twist the sticky black knobs on the sides of the blue enlarger and watch the blurry black and white blobs come into focus upside down.
At only 6 years old, I was barely tall enough to see over the edge of the shallow plastic tray on the table in my dad’s basement, but I leaned forward so as not to miss a thing when my Dad began swishing the liquids back and forth over the photo paper.
Wonder and excitement washed over me as the image slowly appeared. I don’t remember the picture as being particularly impressive, but I clearly remember how magical that moment was. Most likely because of how rare it was for me to have my Dad all to myself without my siblings around, but also because of seeing a moment in time come to life, and also knowing that it would be preserved like that forever!
We dabbled like this for years, and by my early 20’s I had earned my B.A. in Photography and Graphic Design and was working under some top firms and professionals, traveling the world as a still life and food photographer, with the occasional model or magazine style project.
But it wasn’t until I had babies of my own that I discovered my passion for using my camera to capture Milestone Moments.
In fact, I probably never would’ve ended up being a premiere photographer for families if my preemie twins hadn’t had trouble breastfeeding!
The support group in NYC where we were living at the time had been organized by my lactation consultant. As our kids grew, my camera and I were in high demand! I celebrated with the parents as the milestones started - crawling, walking, getting teeth, hair and those chubby feet in their first pair of shoes. But what I loved most was the chance to capture the glances, the tenderness, the sweet fleeting moments between parents and their children.
I enjoyed being a full-time mom & a part-time photographer, which was just enough of a side gig back then to save me from going back to a job full time at an agency. Unlike most other photographers back then, I used studio lights wherever I went. Like the children, it was all on the go. I brought my lights to fields, parks, playgrounds, lakes as well as into people’s homes. What a sight it must’ve been for people passing by!
Having lived all over the world, from London to New York, North Carolina to Iowa, one constant is that staying connected to the people in my community is always the most important thing to me. Honoring that what matters to me most, both in life AND business, is quite simply people. I care about and giving them the best possible experience.
In the early 2000’s my kids were priority (Who am I kidding? They still are!) But they’re 18 and “mom time” is much less in demand, which has left me more time and energy to focus on fulfilling different areas of my purpose.
It’s no surprise that this next chapter of my life would of course include my camera. The art of photography has been a part of who I am since that first day in the darkroom.
Today, my way of connecting and creating experiences for and with people still includes many local moms I met while my kids were in school, or by attending professional conferences and meeting other photographers committed to sophisticated portraiture like I am.
But more than anything else, I feel most at peace AND like I’m living my purpose when I help create a memorable experience and capture milestone moments of my clients with their babies, families, graduation pictures or special celebrations.
From an exquisite yet simple legacy portrait session for no reason other than to celebrate just how gracefully you’re aging to the chaos of family reunion photoshoots with my Lake Okoboji regulars (some of them going 10 years or more for annual photo shoots with me – I practically feel part of the family!).
And even though I’ve been taking photographs for over 25 years, can you believe I myself don’t have a single portrait with me and my parents from before they passed away?
Honestly, it’s one of my greatest regrets, and fuels my passion for making art with my camera for other people even more. Memories captured in the experience of a photoshoot only get more valuable as time goes on.
I couldn’t be more proud to be back behind my camera full time and working with people just like you who value the importance of documenting special times with the people you love most.
I’d love to know your story, and how I can help you tell it with pictures.
My studio is located in historic Valley Junction in West Des Moines. It’s bright, airy and just feels nice. I shoot with a combination of natural and studio lighting, fabrics and custom painted backdrops Our sitting room is filled with light and decorated with furniture in soft accents. When you arrive at the studio, I want you to feel relaxed and immediately at home.
We will meet here for a pre-shoot consultation, for your photo session (unless on location) and again to view and order photos.
The quaint streets of historical Valley Junction provide us with varied and interesting outdoor backdrops. Whether it’s on a quiet weekday morning or a bustling farmer’s market night, we’ll have the option to shoot both in and outside the studio.