liz, emme, & edward

The evening before this session Liz and Emme attended a memorial service for Liz's best friend, Emme's "uncle" Edward, who had passed away suddenly and far too young. Edward loved plaid, especially Burberry, and he was never without a hat on his head (usually of the fedora style). I didn't know Edward, but these are the things I gleaned about him during my time with Liz and Emme on this evening. That, and that he was very much loved. The plaid buttons Liz and Emme wore for our session were made by one of Edward's friends in tribute to him, and distributed at his service. I wasn't sure if Liz would be comfortable with our session falling the day after Edward's memorial, but she felt good about moving forward and I'm so glad she did; I was concerned there would be too much sadness at our session to capture the joy and playfulness between this mother-daughter team. As it turned out the night prior had been one of celebrating a wonderful man, and these two carried that into our session, and in part brought Edward with them. It was beautiful to witness and I feel so lucky to have been able to capture these memories and this time for them.

xo, PQ

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bicycle built for three

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xo, PQ

home is wherever i'm with you

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I love photographing people in the comfort of their own homes, but I'm always down for a adventure that has me shooting in a less traditional setting. This being the session of the family behind the force that is Supportland (Katrina, Michael, Daphne and Zucca) it seemed only appropriate the we do something totally Portland (hello Portland Flea I'm talking to you). And after pining over the School House Electric catalog it occurred to me that the place has gorgeous light, every inch of it is photo-worthy, and they're on the Supportland network, so it just seemed like the perfect home-away-from-home for these folks. We had a stupid amount of fun on this day and I am beyond thrilled with the results.

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In other news, you guys, it's November. We have officially arrived at the season of needing an indoor location for photos. When home isn't an option I am always willing to think outside the box with you; I love the creative challenge of coming up with a location that suits your family and works for photos. And even though we are nearing the end of Christmas Card Crazytown scheduling, I have had a handful of people need to reschedule their sessions this month to later in the year and have a couple spots left that will guarantee a mid-December turnaround. So if you thought you were too late for fall family photos, or maybe you were just waiting for the rain to set in for a very Northwesty photo session (ha!), we are officially here. Oh and while we're talking scheduling, I only have a couple December sessions available but would love love love to do a tree cutting/decorating/celebrating-winter session with a few of you.

Oh hey I just looked out the window and I see blue sky, fluffy clouds, and the sun, on November 2nd, what the whaaaat?!

xo, PQ

costume party

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The first time I met Melissa was four or five years ago at New Seasons; her blog was one of the first I had ever followed, and I recognized the boys in her shopping cart. I fumbled over my words and completely embarrassed myself, saying something along the lines of It's so weird how I feel like I know your family but you have no idea who I am. Not creepy at all.

Cut to this summer when I finally got her rad not-so-little family in front of my camera (something I'll admit I had wanted for a long time). Her kids have an incredible dress-up box and love to perform, they spend a lot of time at home and around the neighborhood, so it seemed obvious that we would incorporate those elements of  their everyday into our session. I'd say it worked out...

xo,

PQ

spiderman's family

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I could write many paragraphs about how much I adore this family. Jacob and Franny went to preschool together last year, and are thick as thieves; sometimes they're going to get married, sometimes they're brother and sister, always their love for each other is fierce.

This wasn't a Halloween-inspired photo session. Jacob isn't even dressing up as Spiderman for Halloween (he's a clown, as is his dad, Ruby is a lion, Susan is the ring master. Seriously, this family is rad.) Spiderman came to the photo session because Jake is almost always at work, and on this day, he was working as a super hero. The first time I picked him up from school for an after school play date, he told me in a completely matter-of-fact fashion that he was employed by the Coast Guard as a deep sea diver, it was hard work but he got to be in the water all day so it was alright; he used to be a fire fighter but he was fired after he was found eating mac-n-cheese when he was supposed to be suiting up for a fire. He had really let his coworkers down. Oh man, get this kid going on his coworkers and you'll be entertained for hours. When he's working as a super hero he has a coworker named Medical Pants. She wears no pants, but you can't tell when she's flying. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. But Jacob can. And boy do we love him for it.

And Ruby. Oh Ruby. The first time I saw her face, and those eyes, I knew I was going to have to get her in front of my camera. She's as feisty as her brother is imaginative, with just the right amount sass to go along with that darling face. She's rarely seen without at least one baby in her arms ('not sure how we ended up without any at the photo session) and she doesn't tolerate any guff from the big kids. She's one of those kids you just want to scoop up eat when you see her, but you learn quickly that she's much tougher than those sweet curls imply. You've got to work a little to earn Ruby's trust, and that's just as it should be.

I'll spare you the additional paragraphs about the parents, because I think you can tell by these images, and just how incredible their kids are, that they're doing this parenting thing just right. I feel pretty dang lucky to have them not just as clients but as friends too.

xo, PQ

 

we love kindergarten!

 

No tears on her part and I held mine until she was out of sight; she LOVED it, didn't want it to end and was ready to go back the next day. She is seated next to the only friend she has in class, she built a robot with a new friend, one classmate doesn't like snap peas but F still wanted them in her lunch the next day, she didn't read my lunch box note, she wrote the sentence "this is a sunset," she has an art teacher with curly hair and LOTS of freckles, and her teacher taught her the expression "capiche?!"

I could not be more pleased. SHE could not be more pleased. We both love kindergarten. Yay (PHEW)!

xo, PQ

 

 

 

 

andrew

(hey photographers, you know that thing where you don't realize until it's too late that your camera bag was in the frame? yeah, that.)

Andrew gazed from his crib at the mobile his papa brought back from a recent trip to Thailand,  then he showed me some of his tiny infant smiles; we went outside where he squawked at the birds up in the trees, or maybe he was telling us that he needed a little food and sleep, so we went back into their home where Andrew promptly fell asleep in mama's arms, to the astonishment of his parents who insisted he never falls asleep while nursing. Nor does he sleep in the living room, apparently, but there he was fast asleep on the couch as we all sat around watching him. Sleeping babies are just so fascinating. I remember watching Franny as she slept, mesmerized by her little features, and her whole human beingness. I would watch her sleep and think, she was just in my belly, I made her, she's mine, she's a person, she'll be an adult some day, and other overwhelming and complex hormones-surging thoughts.  Oh but we were talking about Andrew, sweet sleepy Andrew who gave me plenty of time to catch that sleeping-babe-look from every angle. He woke up ready for a little snuggling from mom and dad, and then I was on my way. Another lovely session with a new family; my heart is full.

xo,

PQ

chelsea

In August 2010 I received an email from Chelsea. We had met in a group for new moms at the hospital where our girls had been born just a few months apart; now they were turning three. We were in our mid-thirties, running our own businesses, living pretty similar lives. Except Chelsea was emailing because she had just been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer; her treatment was set to begin the following week. Chelsea wanted to know if I could come over and photograph her family before the treatment began. I don't know what Chelsea was thinking at the time, but I know that after reading about her type of cancer and it's advanced stage, I felt like I was going to their home to capture images of her with Eva and Thomas so they would have them to hold in their hands when they didn't have her any longer. I remember it being the first time I felt the profound importance of documenting families together. I remember Chelsea looking directly through the camera and past me, to who knows where. I remember the contrast between the enormous sadness I saw in her and Thomas's eyes, and the sheer joy of their daughter, gorgeously unaware of the ugliness life can throw at you.

As we were wrapping up our session, a friend brought them a meal; they ate blueberries on their porch, as we said our goodbyes. When I got in my car I sobbed with overwhelming sadness for Chelsea, the barrel she was staring down, and what that meant as a mother. I felt scared for Thomas, heartbroken for Eva, and I felt guilty for being so damn grateful that it wasn't me. But I knew that this wasn't my battle, or my time to grieve, I had something I could do. I had never before felt so lucky to have this gift to give.

More than two years later, Chelsea is stable, living with no evidence of the disease in her body. I had followed a personal blog she kept, so I knew that she had come out on the other side of intensive medical treatment still standing, and ready to make some changes in her life to support her ongoing healing process. I was thrilled when she contacted me in August about photographing her family again; This time I was going to capture all THREE of them happy, and together, alive and well.

Chelsea Harper, MA, BC-DMT, NCC, RYT is a counselor, dance/movement therapist, and yoga teacher.  Her business Moving to Balance offers workshops and retreats for young cancer survivors. Diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at age 35, she is passionate about supporting young cancer survivors and their families to live well despite cancer.
xo, PQ

 

Update: Chelsea and another breast cancer survivor have teamed up and written a book for children who's mothers have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The book looks beautiful and fills a void in children's literature that sadly needs to be filled. But they need our help in getting a draft prepared to send to publishers. Please watch this video and consider a pledge to their Kickstarter campaign: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/461762311/the-storybook-project

not perfect, just perfectly YOU

I am totally down with thoughtfully outfitting the family, conjuring up dreamy locations, planning, primping, and prepping, as long as everyone is on board with all of that flying out the window when we add kids and Mother Nature to the mix. Children stick out their tongues. Busy parents forget to pack diapers. Potty accidents happen. Newly walking babies refuse to sit down. Sibling kisses lead to wrestling matches. Vintage dresses rip. Controlled chaos is the name of this game, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I mean, how boring would these photos be if everyone was just sitting and smiling at the camera, right?

What I mean is this: Do not be fooled by what appears “composed and collected”; remember the saying “there is more than meets the eye” exists with reason. Go ahead and plan your photo session, pick your style, give it thought, but please let go of your expectations for perfection. Real life is all about MacGyver-ing a diaper, re-fashioning ripped dresses, rolling with grumpy moods, looking beyond bumps and bruises, avoiding looming wasp nests (yup, that happened!), and children running wild and free. It’s the daily grind of being a parent. And I hope you can see in these photos, the great beauty in the mistakes and mishaps. Because when the sun sets at the end of the day, it's all about making memories.

xo, PQ

 

Robin, Mark, Oliver, and Indiana Jones

 

Okay, so it's the dog, not the baby, though wouldn't it have been funny if I had been all, no really, the baby's name is Indiana Jones! And they call her Indy, but I prefer the full name, and I don't even know why I'm talking about this (day 5 of my blog-a-thon and I've already lost whatever writing ability  I may or may not have had to begin with!).

I have a list of things I want to talk about on the blog, and I know I did it once already this week, but I have to share a response from Robin to seeing these photos: she said the photos solidify that Oliver is indeed an "80-year-old man trapped in a 4-month-old's body."  Ha! I looooove the old-man-babies; Franny looked so much like my grandfather when she was this age.  And I love that we captured Oliver in his geriatric-baby stage, because I'm guessing the next time I see him, he is going to look more like a baby-kid.

xo, PQ

what does your sunday morning look like?

 

One of the ways in which to prepare for a family session is by thinking about what your life looks like on the weekends; for Melissa, Jeremy, and their three awesome kids, Sunday mornings mean church, followed by time outside visiting with neighbors, which in Michael and Zach's case means zip lining! And donuts. (I love it when your Sunday involves sweets, especially when you share them with me!)

When I read Melissa's response to seeing the images we captured together one Sunday morning in September, I knew I was going to have to blog her words because I couldn't say it better myself:

You made time stand still and captured the precious moments that can be difficult to remember in the chaos that is raising three kids while working full time. This has been such a gift for Jeremy and me. Thank you.

As you can imagine, I love receiving responses like this from clients; it's just one of the many ways in which my fire is fueled. I am endlessly grateful for the ability to provide this "gift," and for every one of you who hires me to do the same for your family.

xo, PQ

no baby tigers

Lalita had a dream one night: I was photographing her sweet family as they snuggled with their pet tiger cubs. This dream came to be realized some months later, but sadly it was sans baby tigers. I'm hoping she has psychic powers and there are baby tigers in my future. And not in a dangerous way.

This is one of those blog posts that could hold me back because I want to say 101 things and I want to say them right. But I'm going to blog every day this week, I have to because I have photos FROM SUMMER that still need blogging and if I don't give myself a serious goal I'll sit around thinking about how awesome people are and how I want to shine all my crazy love on them on this here blog, and well you know, then I won't say anything and here I go rambling on again!

Lalita told me that she Bob and Simon like to go for walks along the "secret pathway" and I was all hellz yeah! or, you know, more appropriately, ooo I love that place! So we met there, we did some exploring, a little book reading, played some baseball, checked out some graffiti, did the thing we do when families let me tag along on their adventures and capture their them. I was honored to take these photos. It was a big deal. And though I'm not going to get into why, and I'll note that it should be a big deal for every family, it was a little extra big for Lalita, which made it unicorns-flying*-over-rainbows-big for me. (*a flying unicorn is called an alicorn, in case you wanted to know.)

I'll have to stop there so I don't get wrapped up in the bigness and erase and start over, again. Also I need to just blog the heck out of some photos this week and not every post can be bogged down with LOVE and AWESOME and APPRECIATION and... oh who am I kidding, of course it can, what would you do if you came here and I wasn't gushing about all these wonderful people I get to hang with every week?! But seriously, that's the end of this post. See you tomorrow. Thanks for sticking by me despite my slightly ridiculous ways.

xo, PQ

 

the gray gang announce: now we are six!

There are six Grays in these photos.

Tiffany, Shanon, Memphis, Odessa, and Raleigh are thrilled to be adding another location to their family map! And I could not be more honored to be spreading the big news right here on my blog. I have loved watching this family grow in the almost-five years I've known them, and I am so excited to witness and document more of their change.

We hit The Island this weekend for the Gray's annual fall photo session - there are many more gorgeous images to come- Tiffany thought up this cute idea for announcing their pregnancy, and well, how could I not get down with this?! So dear loved ones of this gorgeous gang, in case the photos and words have not already made it abundantly clear, here's the official announcement: come March there's gonna be a new Gray in town!