I met Brandi after she messaged me on Instagram last summer. She had taken a class at Shoreline Community College with my daughter who told Brandi that I was a portrait photographer. So Brandi found my Instagram account and took the leap to message me, offering her services as a newbie makeup artist. I admired her initiative. Plus she had messaged me at the perfect time- I was searching for a makeup artist who was willing to work for trade for a river shoot I was planning (see past blog about the river shoot). Brandi is beautiful, inside and out and eight months later, I offered to do a shoot of her in the woods. She and her husband are moving soon to Nevada. Now, with these pictures, she has the evidence that she truly was a Pacific Northwest girl. 😉
Thomas and Rachel- two awesome millennials. Thomas is our 25 year old son. He is pictured here with his lovely longtime girlfriend, Rachel. I promised myself I’d write a blog for each of my kids eventually, so this one focuses on Thomas. Of our three kids, Thomas is the most difficult to get in front of my camera, so I snuck some pictures in of he and Rachel recently while taking head shots of Rachel for her new job.
Let me tell you a bit about Thomas. He was always out of the mainstream, the original hipster. He would bite kids in preschool just to say hello, he teased his 5th grade teacher, Mr. Nelson, relentlessly, and as a teen became an expert in spinning poi and fire (gulp), and is still invited onto stages to perform today.
At one point, he refused to wear jeans, instead coming up with the weirdest Goodwill outfits I’ve ever seen. Eternally in a knit hat, scarf and multiple layers of clothing,his outfits were always completed with a funky coat of some kind.
Yes, he attended multiple shows and who knows what kind of trouble he got into during those later teenage years. He was always very mysterious about his activities to his parents, of course.
In his early 20’s, he also would hang out with my scientist in-laws and they eventually sent him to California to present a scientific paper they’d all three collaborated on. He was one of the youngest presenters there, and the only one without a college degree (as yet) to present this paper to an international forum of scientists. It was just the start for him though. After two internships and a college degree from the University of Washington, he has chosen to accept a job in emerging technology at the Starbucks Corporate in Seattle.
Smart and funny, maybe those piles of books I read to him as a youngster paid off?
So here are a few more fun photos of this amazing young couple:
Family, It’s complicated, right? They are those people you love unconditionally, but that can also drive you crazy occasionally. Families come in all shapes and sizes. No one family is perfect. There are tight bonds and then there are feuds that last for years and can hurt our hearts. There are opposite personalities and then friendships that shift over the decades. But even through these love-hate relationships, there tends to be a loyalty to each other, We say “well, they are family” when one of us needs help, or when one of us is dealing with difficulties.
Then there’s children and their parents. No parent is perfect, we all make mistakes, but we do the best we can at the time. I think back to when my husband and I were raising our children and the mistakes that were made that I see now on hindsight. For me, it meant getting my fingers too much in my son’s business as a teenager, when all he wanted was privacy. Maybe we enabled them at times? Or was that just kindness and concern? There is a tendency among today’s parents of older children (including myself) to not allow their kids to experience their own failures and pains. Maybe it’s a reaction to the last generation, where our Moms would kick us outside and tell us to not come back ‘til dark. A different take on parenting for sure.
I’m reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. What a good story she tells. Anyhow, I’m so impressed by Michelle’s mother. Her Mom said she was “raising adults”, not bringing up babies. She showed caring and love, yet allowed her kids the room to make their own decisions, do their own work and even fail from time to time. She didn’t overreact to their travails or their successes, but offered a constant unconditional support for all of their efforts and experiences. I admire her. She was wise beyond her years while raising those two kids.
So… family. It is that time of year when family is the focus. This time of year brings out pain and loneliness in many folks. Memories of a lost loved one due to death or just absence. For others, like myself (I’m fortunate to say) the season brings along a sense of connectedness, of coziness and an extreme appreciation for family – ever important, yet imperfect. I invite you to join me in counting out your gratitudes, and in sharing your family stories- both the joys and challenges.
I had the opportunity to photograph Katie’s lovely family at Greenlake recently. I could see the love and playfulness that existed between them. So beautiful to witness. Here are a few of the pictures that I captured on that sunny Seattle day.
“Hello, this is Sandra. John Monahan told me to call you for a headshot. I just got hired on to Quality Care Physical Therapy staff.” I was so happy to hear from Sandra! Quality Care Physical Therapy (QCPT) was one of my favorite clients to work with over the last couple of years.
Two years ago, my doctor referred me to QCPT as a patient. On my first visit to their facility, I entered with some trepidation. My right upper arm had been hurting me pretty badly at the time, even though I hadn’t seemed to injure it. At the QCPT office, I was put at ease immediately by the friendly and comforting front desk staff.
After checking in, I was escorted into a big welcoming space with exercise equipment, big exercise balls and other PT tools, and several tables, some with clients already on them talking to staff who stretched and manipulated the clients bodies in different ways.
John Monahan, QCPT’s owner and head Physical Therapist, introduced himself to me. He had a competent and compassionate demeanor.
John listened to me carefully as I explained the reason for my visit.
“I’ve seen several photographers with this type of arm injury”, he said, surprising me. I had been using my heavy larger lens a lot recently, I thought.
“Can you fix my arm ?”, I asked with hope.
“Yes. It’ll take some time and work on your part, but we’ll get you back in action soon enough”, he told me. I was very pleased to hear that and gave over my arm to his care gratefully.
Twice weekly PT visits, exercises, icing and manipulations were introduced into my life for several weeks. I actually enjoyed visiting their office in downtown Bothell.
They made me feel so cared for and were such fun and friendly folks. After a couple of months, my arm was pain free! Good as new, and two years later the pain has never returned!
One day while chatting with John during my therapy session, he said to me, “Hey, I need some pictures of my staff and space. Can you do it?”.
A couple of weeks later, I was there with my lights and assistant. We took pictures of John and his staff, plus the PT work space. It was such a kick working with these people- everyone had such a good sense of humor and they were so cooperative.
A year later, three of his staff members visited my studio for more headshots. John knows how to hire great people and you could tell that they enjoyed each other’s company. We made a quick little group photo of the three gals in my studio, just for fun.
I think it’s obvious that I have enjoyed working with this company in multiple capacities and hope to see more of them (although minus a sore body part!) in the future. Thank you Quality Care Physical Therapy!
For more information on Quality Care Physical Therapy, please visit their website at http://www.qualitycarept.com/
The Story of our Urban Shoot:
Brooke, Deborah and I met that morning with Rebecca at Rebeka’s Boutique (Rebekah’sBoutique@facebook.com) in downtown Edmonds. Our goal was to find our favorite looks that represented the funky artistic nature of the boutique’s clothing and style. It felt like a fun dress up party as we narrowed it down to three outfits for Brooke to model. She was one of those types of women who fit everything well too, and there were so many cute things, so we took a while to decide on only three!
(Brooke demonstrating her love of these clothes!)
Our team consisted of five women:
- Rebecca Anjewierden: Owner and buyer at Rebeka’s Boutique
- Brooke Lehmann: Seattle model that I’d taken pictures of as a client last summer (IG: blehmann524)
- Deborah Lobe: Longtime, experienced hair and makeup artist and stylist (IG: debdebcolours or online deborahlobe.com)
- Sarah Kercheval: My ever trusty photo assistant (IG: kercheval_model)
- Me: photographer (IG: jeankercheval)
The concept of the shoot was to show off Rebeka’s funky clothes and accessories by photographing a young fashionable women in a more progressive area of the city. Our model, Brooke, would stand out as a colorful jewel among the typical urban Seattleites who tended to dress in dark muted colors, fleece and jeans. Brooke had the perfect demeanor for this shoot, as a fresh, vibrant and sophisticated fashionista. Also, these were pictures that Rebecca would use in her marketing of her boutique.
The morning of the shoot, Deborah, Sarah, Brooke and I met in Brooke’s light filled apartment on Capitol Hill for Deborah to work her magic as a hair and makeup artist. Listen in the video below as Sarah serenades us on Brooke’s piano for a couple of hours as we went about our business of shoot and model preparations.
Next, we piled into the car and drove to our first location – the U.S. District Courthouse on 7th and Stewart, in downtown Seattle. It was a glorious early Fall day, bright and pretty, with a light cloud cover. Perfect for pictures!
At our first location, Brooke rocked it in a gorgeous black and grey dress with a sassy fedora and long black velvet cloves.
In my earlier scouting for the shoot, I’d created a route that would take us from the courthouse to the Amazon Spheres, and was so happy to see a beautiful green and blue glass building on our path . We were also fortunate in that this building was next door to a Starbucks with a restroom- or in our case, a changing room. Brooke used the opportunity to change into her next amazing outfit, which you can see pictured below:
We just loved the vintage artistic flair of Rebeka’s outfits! After one more outfit change at the Starbucks, we took a few more images at this location, then moved along to the Amazon spheres. Colorful and almost bohemian, Brooke also looked beautiful in this colorful dress, a burgundy hat, purple leggings and brown boots.
On our way back to the car, I asked Brooke to walk “runway” across the street. She obliged nicely, of course.
So many pictures, it was hard to narrow them down!
Chatting on the way home, still excited about our day, we all decided that the best course of action after we got home was to take a nap. Photo shoots can be so much fun, but the adrenaline and attention to detail can also be exhausting! 😉
Can’t wait for the next big shoot!
I met Brooke through Facebook, after she put out an ad for a photographer to help her with a unique “Aphrodite” shoot. A complete stranger to me, Brooke had recently moved across the country. She was new to the Seattle area, knowing no one here except for her husband, and was searching for a way to embrace her new life. She chose me from among about 30 or so photographers who responded to her Facebook ad, mostly because she felt an immediate connection between the two of us, as did I.
Upon first meeting Brooke for our pre-shoot consult, I saw a lovely vibrant young woman.
I was surprised to discover that she was not always this way, and had a more difficult past that she was currently climbing out of and recovering from.
She told a story of an illness that sent her to bed sick for nearly two years of her young adult life. Not just mildly ill, but bed ridden and housebound, she tried to make sense of her mystery illness that no doctor could seem to cure or diagnose. When Western medicine failed to help her, Brooke turned to Eastern medicine and nutrition to experiment with new ways of healing her body. Nothing worked.
Brooke eventually came to understand that her illness was more than just physical, but was a sickness of the soul. She had just quit a high stress corporate job in South Carolina and at the same time came to the understanding that she had not been true to herself for years. She had to undergo the difficult process of releasing an oppressive past of a Christian fundamentalist’s upbringing, which was full of criticism and disrespect of the feminine nature. A fish out of water in her family, Brooke was steeped in rhetoric that defined how woman should behave in society- in relationships and at work.. It was a definition which conflicted with how Brooke defined herself. After undergoing this revelation, Brooke began to heal, both physically and emotionally.
With a chance to start over in Seattle, she disconnected from her family’s disapproval and now lives her life on her terms, in pursuit of an understanding of her newly awakened feminist tendencies. I see her strength of character growing, even in the few short months that we’ve formed a friendship. She is proud of her femininity and now celebrates it.
Brooke is bravely bringing to light the power and beauty of the sacred feminine that exists even within our patriarchal society.
While she shares her journey with some, she does not feel obliged to explain herself to others from her past. Instead Brooke focuses on the present and future and what it holds for her new life here in Seattle. Increasingly secure in her new path, she feels drawn towards modeling, ballet, and volunteer work helping a nonprofit that supports women’s and LGBTQ rights. While still searching for her place in the realm of the divine feminine, she is becoming more aware of her path and now defines herself as a writer, poet and spiritual seeker.
In her shoot, Brooke poses as an Aphrodite in the beautiful nature of the Pacific Northwest woods. She is at home here, healthy and thriving once again. Her journey continues to move forward as she strives to grow her definition and understanding of the sacred feminine in herself and her world.
At my in-law’s cabin in Baring, WA, I stood at the edge of the Skykomish river one evening earlier this summer, listening to the breeze flutter through the bushes and trees, and quietly watching the river stream by.
Green and luminescent, the river whispered gently on this stretch, providing me with a meditative feeling of calm; of restoration and a sense of awe that seeped into my very soul. Despite its gentle beauty, the power of this water- to stubbornly carve out its own path heedless of our human desires, to barrel over rocks and roots – was to be solemnly respected and even feared in some places. The river could be friendly and gentle then change its mind and become a turbulent and angry force to be reckoned with.
Either way, the river was here before us with an ancient spirit running persistently through these Pacific Northwestern forested lands and through the surrounding towns and cities. I felt drawn to its beauty.
The nature of the Pacific Northwest has a presence that peaks the imagination and does not suffer thoughts of the mundane. This summer I discovered that I wanted to create a story, recorded through the lens of my camera.
Some time later, while on a recent beach vacation, I contemplated this idea of a river shoot. I wanted the concept of the shoot to show a young woman taking a summer’s day to journey and enjoy the green sensual waters by herself. She climbs the rocks, explores along the river’s band and bathes in the river floating like the Goddess that she is.
As I pondered my story one day while on vacation, my Instagram notification went off. It was a message from Gregory Elgee, a guy who had previously rented out my studio and who, like me, was an alumni of the UW photography program albeit in a different year. Commenting on my last Instagram post, Gregory mentioned that he’d love to collaborate with me sometime. I responded “actually, I’m thinking of a river shoot soon…”.
A day or two later, another Instagram notification came through- a young makeup artist named Brandi Anne Troth had messaged me. She wrote that she knew my daughter from a college class they shared and that she followed my work on Instagram with interest. If I ever had need of a makeup artist, she said, she’d love to collaborate with me on a shoot. The timing was too serendipitous and I admired Brandi for boldly reaching out to me, so I asked her to join us on the shoot.
Next, I contacted Adrianne Keogh, our potential model. A beautiful and talented young woman, I’d done previous shoots of her plus have known her and her mother since Adrienne was an infant. She had the perfect look for this project. She replied “yes” with enthusiasm.
Finally, my daughter, Sarah joined us. She’s my rock, my adviser and the person with whom I often brainstorm and try out shoot ideas. She would act as my assistant on the river.
As if by magic, the river shoot team had materialized.
So, early on a hazy Wednesday morning, we meet up at my studio for shoot prep., hair, makeup and wardrobe decisions. We head on up Highway 2, which follows the Skykomish river closely. We hit the road with two cars, all excitement and chatter. Our first stop was in Sultan, at a park under a bridge. Here is the sign we found:Our model Adrienne pipes up from the back seat “um…no way”, we all laugh and move along to discover another, safer, river location.
Back on highway 2, I spot a sign- “River Access”. There! We do a u-turn and drive into the parking lot to check it out. Walking through the trees, we see that the river here was slow moving and nearly empty of people– perfect for our shoot! Adrienne starts to get comfortable with her natural surroundings.
There was even a view of an active train trestle from our location on the river, adding a bit of interest to the images. Trains rumble on by as we play in the water below.At first, I have Adrienne move gently into the river, touching the water and turning here and there. She slowly introduces herself to the river’s waters.Then we help Adrienne submerge and float in the cool water. The water feels good on this hot day as I wade in to get closer to my subject.Behind the scenes, Brandi helps adjust Adrienne in the water, applies more makeup during a break from shooting, and Sarah holds my reflector up to help bounce the soft light while I took pictures.
Meanwhile, Gregory had scurried ahead, over the rocks, scouting out the area for more locations to shoot. He comes back with good news of an old train trestle that had an “epic” look. We all climb over the river rocks and boulders precariously to see what he meant. It was indeed a majestic scene.
Once there, I take more pictures as Adrienne gracefully makes her way over the rocks and thru the shallow river to be near the structure.
The location now exhausted, we return to Highway 2 and follow it up to my in-law’s sweet little cabin set directly upon the river in Baring. We reach the cabin at the time when the light sings- the Golden hour preceding sunset. Working quickly, we use the natural surroundings to emphasize Adrienne’s beauty, then head down to the river to capture the light there.
Adrienne lingers near near the cabin, then walks down to the river’s edge in her journey, exploring her surrounding for a bit as the light falls perfectly upon her.
We change her outfit again at the cabin and she once again descends the stairs to the river as a Goddess, glowing in a long white dress.
The river has many years ago formed a calm little round pool, with rock cairns on either side. We place Adrienne in this perfect pool, where she reclines gracefully.
Satisfied with our time shooting on the river, the beauty of the smokey wildfire stricken day comes to a close with a feeling of the tired excitement of accomplishment. It was a good day and we all traveled back to my studio, talking and reliving the shoot during the ride home.
This is the story of a young beauty, of vulnerability, of a delicate, yet strong soul. Her name is Sarah and she’s my 20 year old daughter.
Behind the scenes, Sarah holds many roles. Among other things, she’s a daughter, a sister, a friend, a talented college student of voice and piano, a teacher, a model, and a most trusty photo assistant to myself and others. I often ask her “what will I do when you move away and can no longer be my number one assistant?” She replies, “I’ll make the time to help you out”.
She’s of such value to me, both in my work and in my heart. Wise beyond her years, she offers an empathetic ear to many, myself included.
Like many her age, she’s suffered from anxiety over the years, vulnerable to today’s challenging societal elements. This anxiety has only served to further strengthen her as she’s worked hard to accept those feelings and work through them on a daily basis.
While still journeying through such feelings, she’s come to a point of understanding with her very soul that this is part of what makes her who she is now.
She’s obviously been blessed with a physical beauty (good genes? Haha)
and an inner beauty that goes deep.
The woods that she stands among in these pictures match her very nature: calm, quiet and stoic at first glance, with lots going on underneath the soil and in the busy-ness in the undergrowth. I continue to watch her journey through the ups and downs that life brings, and am ever grateful for her role in our lives, for the love she brings to our hearts.