Be Inspired Session | Feature by Mel Christina

Be Inspired Session | Feature by Mel Christina


Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

I approach most of my subjects trying to use shadow, light, and natural elements in emotive and artistic ways. I’ve always loved art that has a certain dark beauty to it, so I try to incorporate that in my work. I’ve recently made the transition to pursue photography as a full-time hobby/business, so I’m super new to the “ business” side of things. Taking this leap was the BEST decision I have ever made because it’s exposed so much of fear, creativity, vulnerability, motivation, and all those roller coaster human feels that go with “putting yourself out there”. I’m grateful for the experience of trying for something meaningful and special to me. Some personal facts- I’m a lifelong learner and lover of all things plants and flowers. I love cake before bedtime. Yes, don’t judge! I have a passion for birds and get overly giddy when a full moon is approaching. I want to someday develop my own film. As in, I’ll attempt to convert our laundry room into a dark room!

What about this session was most memorable?

This session was super special because the couple was young and has such a genuine love. They had such a relaxed and effortless beauty about them. I really just followed them with my camera and caught so many amazing shots. It’s incredible how genuine love can speak in images. They are also easy on the eyes.

Were there any hurdles?

Ha! I learned to not wear my Birks ever again to a session! I walked in puddles to follow them, nearly broke a hip!

Your best photographer/session advice?

Ask questions to get to know your clients! They are all so unique and interesting. That old cliche, “you can learn something new about someone every day”, is so true! I love getting to know people, asking questions from what is your favorite song to what kind of dream vacation would you take if you could. I love connecting with a stranger, a new person- everyone has something beautiful inside. I know that sounds cheesy, but it is super true! Relax and be your everyday quirky, random, people- interested self.

 What gear was used to achieve these?

For these images, I used a Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-70, and Sigma Art 35


Mel Christina is a natural light, photographer, based in Austin,Texas, specializing in children, families, lifestyle and potraits. Mel’s approach to work is to capture unscripted, artistic lifestyle photography.

W E B S I T E | F A C E B O O K | I N S T A G R A M 


Gold for September | Pediatric Cancer awareness through beautiful imagery

Gold for September | Pediatric Cancer awareness through beautiful imagery

Each day, 42 families in the United States will receive the devastating news that their child or teen has cancer.

This month we teamed up with Cynthia Dawson of the Gold Hope project and many other Instagram communities who are sharing from the hashtag #teamup4goldkids Originally we wanted to feature just images from the hashtag but it felt a bit empty without bringing attention and sharing the beautiful souls and faces of those who have fought, and are currently fighting this monster.

Cynthia’s Words ;

“When I hear about a family struggling with an ill child, as a mom I know all too well what they may be thinking, feeling, and experiencing; and as a photographer, I know all too well how important pictures mean to them. As both a mom and a photographer, I know how important my own photos of my children are since suffering the loss of a beautiful child, my first born, Ava. As we try to figure out life without her, one thing always brings me comfort . . . The photographs I have of her. Because of the way photographs bring our family a dose of comfort, we brought together like-minded photographers from around the country to help us provide that gift for other families who sadly have a child with cancer. The Gold Hope Project was inspired by my Ava and is a special place where her memory can live on. Many families with ill children are emotional, physically and financially strapped; it is the heart of The Gold Hope Project to take at least one worry off their shoulders and gift them something magical – the smiles of their children frozen in time. The Gold Hope Project’s goal is to make sure that these already over-burdened families have an everlasting documentation of the joy and whimsy of their children while simultaneously raising awareness of and funds for pediatric oncology research and treatment.” 

Photography has great power. Join The Gold Hope project in this amazing cause.


Micah; photographed by Joy of Life Photography for The Gold Hope Project

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Julia Crim

Mitchell-photographed by Molly O. Photography for The Gold Hope Project

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Camila; photographed by Karyn Olsson -Photography for The Gold Hope Project

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Whitney Chardoulias


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Parker ; photographed by Karyn Olsson Photography for The Gold Hope Project

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Maddy; photographed by Crystal Hardin Photography  for The Gold Hope Project.

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Daniel; photographed by Photo Works  for The Gold Hope ProjectThe Gold Hope Project 07.jpg

 Marilou Cote

Carlie; photographed by Charlie Little Photography for The Gold Hope Project.The Gold Hope Project 08.jpg

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Lily; photographed by Kelley Deal Photography for The Gold Hope ProjectThe Gold Hope Project 09.jpg

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Charlotte; photographed by Jessie Hearn Photography for The Gold Hope Project.The Gold Hope Project 10.jpg


Ariana; photographed by Lindsey Rabon Photography for The Gold Hope Project.

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Tell us abit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.
AM : I have focused my business and client work around celebrating love in every way. I strive to document fleeting moments for my clients and tell their story so that they have something tangible to hang onto forever. I have been a Birth Photographer for over 4 years now, and the intimate & rawness of that work has slowly been integrating itself into all of my other sessions as well.
I am a mother of three, and three years ago I started documenting our own story as part of a 365 Project. As a photographer of almost 6 years now, I can truly say that every time I pick up my camera I am shooting what I love. Wether it be my own family, the anticipation of a mother and father about to welcome a new baby into the world, the fog of those first few weeks at home, or the beauty in your everyday with all of the people you love.

What about this session was most memorable?
AM: Vancouver Island, Canada is one of the most incredible places on this earth. We are blessed with the beauty of the Mountains, Ocean, Lakes and Rivers. This particular
stormy day the sky opened up for us and was spectacular. It was the perfect back drop for this glowing mamma, who actually ended up having her baby only a few days after these were taken.

Were there any hurdles?
AM : Not really…The ‘soon to be dad’ was a bit unsure, and didn’t like to be photographed. I find this with most men. I always assure them that all I require is that they love their wives and children, and that never seems to be an issue. It most definitely was not an issue in this session.

 Your best photographer/session advice?
AM: Let them be. Couples always find a way to ‘puzzle’ in together. Let them find that first. Then I always ask them to breath together. It seems silly at first and most rush through it. But after a few minutes, they melt into each other with collective breaths and that’s where the magic happens.

What gear was used to achieve these?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark IV with a Sigma ART 35mm lens and a Canon 70-200mm

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“Love and laughter comprise the primary subject matter for Vancouver Island-based birth and lifestyle photographer Ashley Marston. An award-winning Birth, Lifestyle & Documentary photographer (and busy mother of three), Marston strives for images that capture those two staples of family relationships, as well as the quiet moments that might otherwise go unseen. Always seeing life through a lens, Marston also photographs her own family daily, cherished images she shares on Social Media through her year-long A Daily Occurrence project. Whether the photographs capture moments with her family or a client, storytelling is the heart of all her work.”


Dear Photographer feature by Elena S. Blair Photography

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One of her first images 



Letter to past self:

Dear Elena (then),
I know you are swimming in a sea of self doubt. I know you are trying to find your way. You are wondering if you will ever make it, if you will ever be taken seriously as an artist. You don’t even know you are an artist yet. But I want to tell you right now what your single biggest obstacle is… it’s fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of being yourself. Fear of failure. Fear of success. You are afraid to let go and really just to be you. You are afraid to be vulnerable because putting yourself out to the world as an artist hurts sometimes. If only you could see where you are now, how far you have come. You would have saved yourself sleepless nights and countless hours worrying. All you had to do was believe in yourself and trust the process. Because today, today you have found happiness and success that you didn’t know existed seven years ago. And it’s all because you let go of fear and dove straight in. If I could say one thing to myself seven years ago I would say “It’s all going to be okay. It’s all going to be beautiful. It’s not always going to be easy, but it is always going to be worth it.”

~ Elena (now)

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“All you had to do was believe in yourself and trust the process.” 


Elena S Blair is a self declared people person! The Seattle based photographer, wife, and mother of three claims the relationships and connections in her life inspire her photography. Elena owns a thriving lifestyle family and newborn photography business, focusing on capturing moments and connection. Elena is passionate about helping other photographers find meaning and purpose in their work and business. She teaches workshops for photographers both in person and online and co founded Lady Boss Workshops, a education source for female entrepreneurs. She also co hosts the podcast, Creatively Unscripted.



REDEFINE | Dare to Bare feature by Joanna Crichton Photography

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“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “

Why are you passionate about this topic?

JCP : I have always had a passion for creating and expressing myself through art. It’s something I’m attracted to without thinking too much about why. I am driven to capture simple, emotional, and thought provoking images. I have become obsessed with light so much I will stop and stare to appreciate a golden glow on a building or shadow covering my son’s cheek. If I’m with someone I’ll make sure they appreciate it too! haha
Transforming moments into art is extremely satisfying and powerful.

When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?

JCP: My love for photography blossomed in my high school photography class shooting film and developing it in the blackroom. There is something magical about bringing a creative vision to life.

What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique? 
-envision what you want to accomplish before you begin your session. take the time you need to thoughtfully prepare your shot. keep in mind the lighting, composition, body language etc., background, and mood
-connect with other photographers
-don’t be afraid to screw up. Some of my “mistakes” have transformed my work into something beautiful
-be inspired by the world around you. For me it’s nature, music, movie scenes, and other photographers
-don’t be afraid to ask your clients to do weird things if you have a vision… they will thank you for it

What were the challenges for you in the beginning?
JCP: I was a supply teacher for 7 years before starting
Joanna Crichton Photography, so I struggled with the business side of things. Managing my time has been difficult for me. Being a mama and running a business has been a huge learning experience. The Blissful Maven posted something on her instragram that really resonated with me. “The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.” It’s a balancing act I am working on everyday.

Gosh, my job is so easy! I just click a button all day! said no photographer, ever.


How do you prepare for a dare to bare session?

JCP: The most important thing is that my clients are comfortable in their session. Mind you if they have committed to a dare to bare session with me they are likely open and free spirited which works to both of our advantages to create beautiful art. Before a session I visualize the angles, light, poses, and mood for the shoot but ultimately a huge part of how my shots turn out is the partnership created between my client and me. Sometimes my visions are derailed by stumbling into some beautiful light or getting inspired by a curve in the body and we run with it throwing the plans out the window for something unexpected.

How does it compare to other boudoir sessions?

JCP: I’m not sure how it compares to other boudoir sessions because this is all I know. That would be better answered by others.

How do I feel about censorship?

JCP:I hate it. Being comfortable and proud of our bodies is something I believe is so powerful. Bodies are bodies, we all have them, there is nothing to be gained by hiding them. My three year old son knows all of his body parts including female body parts. Teaching children to know and respect themselves and others is necessary. Censoring body parts is not.




I am a 33 year old mama to my three year old son, living in Ontario Canada, with my partner and extraordinarily large dog. I enjoy outdoor adventures, being near the water, traveling, and a challenge. Oh and music and wine are fun too! I am so happy to be able to do what I love.


Dear Photographer feature by Tamarah Hodgson of Meraki + Light




                         From a client session when I first started in 2009.



You were young, and full of creativity. I just wish you would have known that your art didn’t have to look like what everyone else was doing. I wish I could have told you to create from your own vision, from the depths of your own heart. You got caught up in posing, in copying, in people-pleasing. You were so committed to capturing the perfectly posed portrait, and making your clients happy. Not that making your client’s happy is wrong, I wish I could have told you that the only person you needed to please was yourself, your own creative vision. You know this now, and your heart is coming alive like never before. It’s like you’ve finally found your true self. So to my future self: never forget who you are, never stop creating from your own depths. Your art may not matter to everyone, but it’ll keep you alive and speak to those who need it, as long as you keep pouring out from your own, deep, creative vision.

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I’m Tamarah Hodgson, wife, mother and photographer at Meraki + Light.  I’m a passionate enthusiast for creating from your depths.  I believe that art matters, it shapes us, and those around us.  I believe that loving others is one of the most beautiful and fruitful things we can give our lives to.  And I find my wholeness in Jesus, who has taught me what perfect love looks like.


BE INSPIRED SESSION feature by Kate Fretland photography


Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.

KF: My love affair with photography has had many chapters. I applied as a receptionist at age 19 to a fine art Newborn portrait studio in Los Angeles and was generously given the opportunity by the owner to train as a photographer.
When I left LA, and came home to the Sacramento area, I began photographing weddings and while I still do take a few weddings a year – about 5 years ago, family portraiture became my passion.

What about this session was most memorable?

KF: I love the connection and bond between parent and child, and I hold a deep appreciation for the unique affection parents develop through the years of becoming parents. This is what fuels my current work. I am moved by relational surrender, the way a new father looks at his bride holding their first wrinkly newborn in her exhausted arms, the way a father snuggles his shy 8 year old son. Family sessions are not calm, or easily controlled, and yet the real and organic moments that present themselves during these sessions are my preferred medium.
My husband Cory and I run a portrait studio here in Rocklin, Ca where we specialize in Newborn, Maternity and Family artwork. We are a full service studio, and our goal with each client is to leave them with quality canvases or framed prints for their walls or an archival album to leaf through for years. Since we homeschool our 4 little ones, traveling for family sessions, mentoring and weddings are a part of our photography adventures. I must admit, it is chaotic but exactly what I was made to do. I love people. All of them are unique and beautifully made. Being a story teller feeds my soul and I consider myself so fortunate to be invited into so many different walks of life.

Were there any hurdles?

KF: This particular maternity session was here in northern California during another rainy February week. The clouds threatened a reschedule, but we all agreed it was worth a shot. The sun peeked out at the perfect moment and the little baby girl that was still finishing up inside her mother will now forever have a glimpse into her early beginnings. She is loved and we created some beautiful proof.

What gear was used to achieve these?

KF: For this session I used my Nikon D750 & Sigma Art 35. I am most known for my sun drenched images with deep tones that almost always include a snuggle or a kiss.


Your best photographer/session advice?

KF : As a professional photographer of 16 years, if I were to give a small piece of advice – I would say to make sure you are making time and preparations to be photographed as well. Hire a professional, and one whose work you love. I would even say is it actually hard on my soul to neglect my own families story being artfully captured and told, while I ironically earn a living bottling up other families love. It is so important and helpful to realign your motives when being trusted as a family portrait artist. When I prepare for my own family sessions, I am reminded how each client is a person who wants to look beautiful and be in portraits with her loved ones. Being photographed is such a great reminder and when I receive my own galleries, I am also reminded that what I am providing people with is so much more than a picture of a time. I am showing them what I see and a glimpse of the love they share that year, that moment. Hopefully they will see something new in each session and be reminded how lovable and loved they are.



Kate Fretland is a destination family photographer who loves people and conversation. She runs a Newborn and family portrait studio alongside her husband Cory in Rocklin, Ca, near Sacramento. When she is not traveling with him and their 4 children, you might find her snuggling/photographing a newborn baby, browsing Expedia, planning a party, ordering her daily double espresso with a half pump of toffee nut at Starbucks or chatting about home birth or breastfeeding with her slightly hippyish sister and friends.

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