Tipsy Tuesday | How to Prep for my Photo Session

It's Tipsy Tuesday and today's tip is on feeling prepared for your photo session. While you should trust your photographer (if you've hired a professional you love) to help you to look your best, it's natural to still feel a little nervous and unprepared before your session. Here are 5 quick tips to help smash those jitters!

1. Bring an extra outfit, accessories, jewelry and easy-to-walk in shoes. Even if we don't end up using them, having options in the car is helpful in case you have a wardrobe malfunction, want to change up the feel of your photos or want to venture off the beaten path in something other than those adorable new heels you just bought.

2. Dress accordingly to the weather and/or bring warm-up gear for breaks. Warm jackets and boots, hand warmers, dry socks and a thermos with a hot beverage. If we've made a day of it, feel free to bring snacks to ward off the hangry dragon.

3. Communicate clearly with your photographer in advance if you have a specific vision in mind that you want created in your photos.

4. Create a SOS bag with chapstick, bug spray, spf, lotion, safety pins, hairspray and a comb for quick touch-ups in between in case rain or weather gets you down.

5. Hire a professional stylist and hair and makeup artist if you can! This will help immensely when it comes to choosing colors and outfits that look good on you, as well has having photo-ready hair and makeup. Professionals can help your look to look killer and last longer. 

I hope these 5 tips help you feel a little more prepared before your upcoming photo session! As always, my online door is always open if you have any questions! 

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BE love

Happy Valentines Day! 

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While Valentines Day comes with an array of mixed emotions from those who hate it and crave it, I think there's a bigger picture we can focus our thoughts on. You don't need a spouse or even to be in a relationship to have a reason to show a little extra love today. Valentines Day doesn't need to be just about loving yourself or loving a partner. It can be an opportunity to push light and love into this crazy mess of a world around us.

It's time we focus on the positive and "be the change we wish to see in this world". Valentines is a great day to start, amiright?!

Here are a few ideas I've come up with. Feel free to add your own and then get out there and love on those around you. You never know who's fighting what battle, who's feeling unloved and who is hurting. Be the reason someone smiles today. 

1. Pay it forward in the coffee line. 
2. Offer a helping hand to a neighbor moving in/out. 
3. Volunteer at a local shelter walking dogs, serving food, donating time, etc.. 
4. Throw a few extra bucks out of your paycheck into a nonprofit charity.
5. Send your mom a card reminding her how much you love and appreciate her.

Much LOVE,

P.S. This is not to say DON'T love on your spouse, partner and kids. Include them in your practice and encourage them to pick a random act of kindness as well. You can all grow in love together. 

Taleigh | Senior Portrait Session, Renton, WA

I got to photograph Taleigh's senior portraits a couple weeks ago and got to know a little bit about the beaut opposite my lens. A tee-shirt and jeans kinda girl who likes to kick it with her friends and listen to 90’s and early 2000’s r&b and hip hop music.

This smart chica is also taking college courses in her senior year of high school and loves learning about human biology. I asked Taleigh if she had plans after graduation and she said "I plan on going into a nursing program and becoming a neonatal nurse." A girl with heart and ambition is my kinda girl! 

Good luck with the rest of your senior year girl and keep chasing your dreams! You're gonna go far! 


LeAnn + Kostas | Astoria, OR Wedding

LeAnn was traveling in Greece when she first laid eyes on Konstantinos. Little did she know that the tour guide showing her around his home would be the man she would spend forever with. Flash forward a few years and over 6,000 miles traveled, Kostas and LeAnn exchanged vows in front of family and friends on her side of the globe.

They got ready at the Cannery Pier Hotel, praying for the rain to clear out. The skies actually brightened up right up until the moment they met for their first look and then dumped down! Luckily it only lasted until we hurried back inside (classic PNW). These two handled it like champs though and we headed up to the Astoria Column and battled the wind for a few more portraits of the couple.

As is the custom in Greece, Kosta's mother gave LeAnn her own gold ring to wear at the wedding. She looked gorgeous and Kostas couldn't help but keep smiling at her. Keep scrolling to see more of their love story and all of the beautiful details along the way.

They exchanged vows in the Apostolic Lutheran Church in Astoria, Oregon and then celebrated over dinner and desserts with their guests. Just wait until you see their stunning cake!

Congrats Newlyweds! Wishing you a marriage filled with many more beautiful memories together!

Wedding Planning, Decorations & Catering: Joy Matson, Penrose Estates B&B
Day of Coordination: Katie Matson
Hair and Makeup: Whitney Matson
Florals: Scarlet Matson, Penrose Estates B&B
Dress Shop and Designer: Bridal Exclusives by Allure
Photography: Janelle Elaine Photography
Second Shooter: Bernadette Severson

My Whole 30 Experience

Call me crazy, but after the stupid amounts of junk food I consumed over the holidays, I took on Round 2 of Whole 30. If you've been following me for a while, you know I did it last year as well (and technically only made it 28 consecutive days, cheated 2 days and then finished up a couple days later in the week), but by Whole 30 standards did not complete it. 

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Added or Processed Sugars
Legumes or Beans
Carageenans, MSG, Sulfites
Junk Foods

This time, I planned to do it after the holidays and made sure it didn't run into any others (Easter treats messing me up last year). I joined an accountability group with some of my family and friends and vowed to make it through this time.

Despite my cheating last time, the benefits then and now blew me away, from clearing a brain fog I didn't know I had, to eliminating my fatigue, sleeping a little better, inches off the love handles, clearing up my skin completely, and reducing my need to snack constantly. I've learned to read labels, question companies who deliberately put disgusting and unnecessary ingredients into our foods, and support the farmers and businesses who believe in feeding real people real food. I'm not a big cook, but I surprised myself with the creations I was coming up with to make meals something to look forward to.

While everyone around me was seemingly annoyed that I was "limiting myself", I felt empowered by the fact that I had complete control over my choices and felt great about it. It's 30 days out of 365 for goodness sakes! That are stil 335 other days of the year I can pack my stomach chuck full of cookies if I really wanted to.

6. I've seen the ugly face of jealousy as people would make comments about my choices about how stupid it was that I would do this, that I don't need to diet, that I'm not living my life, etc... While my social life did take a bit of a hit as my focus shifted to work over dinner parties, I reminded myself that if someone is bothered that much by my choice of eating clean for 30 days, that's their own personal problem they'll just have to get over. 

7. I've also been reminded who my supporters are! I had plenty of friends and family who weren't doing Whole 30 who would cook for me, encourage me not to cheat on days I questioned it, who offered to cook an approved dinner for me before going to a party together and who sent me ideas and recipes. You all know who you are and I freaking love you for your true support!

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Here's how it went:

1. I SURVIVED! I made it all 30 days as of today. While I typically eat pretty clean, I still could easily find at least one of those in nearly all the food I consumed on the reg so taking them all out cold turkey isn't easy.

2. You may think Whole 30 would be eating rabbit food nonstop, but I truly only had 3 salads during those 30 days. I had delicious buffalo chicken bowls, thai zucchini pasta, sweet potato toast with almond butter, delicious omelettes, dry rubbed chicken tenders and pulled chicken tacos in lettuce wraps filled with guacamole. And one bun-less 5 Guys Burger because they are the best and don't put crap into their burgers! My husband made a comment the other night that he could do Whole 30 way longer if it always tasted like the meals I'd just cooked. I commented I could as well if someone else cooked and did the dishes each time. The food was good guys.

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3. While my goal was not to lose weight, just gain allll the other benefits, I still lost a couple pounds and took inches off the hips. I weight lifted weekly and up'd my fat intake (an avocado a day keeps docs away). My husband lost over 10 pounds.

4. I still hold true to the fact that I hate washing dishes more than any other chore. I swear I did them 3x a day on Whole 30 and that was the worst part about the entire process.

5. According to my journaled notes, my energy level (on a scale from 1-10) went from a 4 on Day one to a continuous 10/10 during the final days. I don't feel the need for coffee, but I love the taste so much, I still drink it and feel like I have boundless energy. My focus and sleep has slightly improved. I rarely bloat up or feel sick after eating anymore. I'm glad it's over because I've missed a few things (like the cookie from a recent wedding that I put in my freezer to enjoy post), but I'll be introducing each thing slowly to see how my body reacts. It's an incredible way to test yourself to the foods you're sensitive to. We're all different.

6. How grateful I am to have my husband along on the journey with me because someone else to help out with meal prepping, cooking, those dang dishes and holding me accountable is a real deal game changer. 


Words of advice if you're willing to take on the challenge. Get a friend or spouse to do it with you. Do it right. If you mess up, start over. Accept that you're an adult and you can say no to whatever you want, despite the pushback you'll get from the jealousy crew. Know that the first couple weeks are the hardest and that it DOES get much better. All power to you my health loving friends! You got this!

Liz + Josh | Robinswood House Wedding

Liz and Josh left behind the Arizona heat for a destination wedding in the Pacific Northwest. When they told me they were having a backyard style wedding at the Robinswood House with their closest friends and family, I knew we'd hit it off! The grounds at the venue boasts natural florals, plants and greenery surrounding the main cabin, making you feel like you're in your own private space. Paper lanterns decorated the trees and rich blue table cloths brought a pop of color to the lush green grass. Liz added her own rustic DIY touches around the property. Their guests traveled from all over to celebrate the start of their marriage. 

Liz's niece did her makeup and two of her best friends styled her hair. 

The couple opted for the traditional route, with the first time seeing each other as Elizabeth's parents walked her down the aisle to Josh. Having her father marry them was so special and so important to them both. After her father prayed blessings over the couple, he flipped a coin (with each side representing Liz and Josh's favorite rival teams) to determine who went first with their vows. The beautiful bride won that one!

It was an open air reception, dining under the setting sun and dancing the night away under the starry sky.

Venue: Robinswood House
Florals: Floratherapie
Caterer: Act 3 Catering
DJ: Puget Sound
Wedding Dress Retailer: Ivory Row Bridal

Anna + Daniel | Catholic-Chinese Seattle Wedding

Anna and Daniel are married!

Celebrating the merging of two different cultures and religions (Chinese and Catholic), Anna and Daniel exchanged vows in downtown Seattle in front of both english and non-english speaking guests who all understood the universal language of love.

They had a traditional mass at Christ our Hope Catholic Church, formerly the New Washington Hotel, a space filled with light and elegance.

Post ceremony, we had a quick window for a few photos of the bride and groom before the grand entrance to their Chinese Tea Party and reception at China Harbor in Seattle.

Anna and Daniel kneeled before their parents and served them tea, a ritual in traditional Chinese marriage ceremony to show respect and gratitude. Their parents then handed them little red envelopes with gifts of money/jewelry/etc. The look of pride and joy on their parents faces was the sweetest thing to witness.

After the newlywed's reception entrance, they kneeled before their parents and served them tea, a ritual in traditional Chinese marriage ceremony to show respect and gratitude. Their parents then handed them little red envelopes with gifts of money/jewelry/etc, concluding the tea ceremony.

Then the drums and gong sounded and in ran two colorful lions, putting on a lively show as they danced their way around the room. The rest of the night was filled with multiple courses of lavish foods, cake, congratulatory toasting and lots of dancing. Oh and bubbles. There were lots of bubbles!

Cheers to you Anna and Daniel! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage together!

Ceremony: Christ Our Hope Catholic Church
Reception: China Harbor
Dress: Brides for a Cause
Florals: Pike Place Market

Highlights of 2017

As 2017 is wrapping up, I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite highlights from the year. It's been an exciting year filled with lots of changes and growth. With photos of course, I'll share some of it with you! 

Business Highlights:
This was a unique year for me. I opted for the first time ever to not spend the entire summer in Michigan for my clients. This was a hard decision, but I decided ultimately it would be the best for my married life to work on growing my business where my husband was at. I only came up once this past summer for two weddings and instead took on weddings in WA for the rest of the summer. I miss my MI clients, but WA provided me with new opportunities.

1. I shot some of my most unique weddings yet (including a traditional chinese tea party) with clients from all across the globe. It was really fun experiencing how nuptials are exchanged and celebrated within different cultures.

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2. I was hired on by Nikki Closser Photography to help photograph her clients in her beautiful Seattle studio. She has taught me so many amazing new things, especially in photographing women. She also photographed me and made me feel so beautiful.


3. I was told by an egotistical priest at a wedding that I was banned from taking photos in his church again if I couldn't send him 3 photos of himself by the end of the night. I was photographing the wedding for another photography company I was hired on by until 11pm and by contract, I personally couldn't share any of the photos. He raged at me and I professionally held my ground and didn't cave into his demands. It makes my highlights because I see growth in myself in this moment as I emotionally blocked his bad energy, didn't get upset/return his anger and kept my focus on the client.

4. I've narrowed down my niche and deepened my love for photographing 1-1 portraits (seniors and women especially) and love stories (couples, engagements, anniversaries and small intimate weddings). This means I took on no newborns, limited family sessions and accepted fewer large weddings so that I could be more intentional and focused on telling my client's stories better. 


5. I took new lighting courses, practiced hours in studio and learned more about lighting, branding, value, etc... Always growing!

Personal Highlights:
This was a year of adventure and growth. I solidly believe that these go hand in hand.

1. Moving to WA and experiencing the ocean, mountains, rainforests and all the beauty of the PNW. It's been a refreshing change of scenery from North Dakota.

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2. Went on my first Cruise to the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands with family. This was one of the most fun trips I've ever been on! I snorkeled on all of the islands and constantly pushed away my fear of sharks over and over again while doing so.


3. I did alot of hiking and experienced some of the most breathtaking views ever, while learning the importance of getting outside when you're feeling down or discouraged. (Also learned a painful lesson on the importance of sporting SPF when hiking high altitudes in snow.)

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4. Met my oldest sister in Sedona, AZ for a killer trip that included experiencing the Grand Canyon, sunrise at a vortex and falling in love all over again with travel.

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5. Crossed a few things off of our PNW bucket list, including seeing the Christmas lights at Leavenworth, going white water rafting and seeing Thor's Well.


6. I've spent hours this year tracing my ancestry and learned just how deep my Finnish roots are. I've learned a deeper appreciation and understanding of my family and myself. After living away from my Finn family for so long, I realize how dearly I miss a good sauna night with homemade nissu and coffee.

7. Self Discovery was big this year for me. I poured into studying about different personality types, which has given me new found confidence in understanding both others and myself (especially in learning how to deal with people who don't understand me). I've found power in being an introvert and don't feel shamed when people tell me "you're so quiet" or tell others that "Janelle is really shy". (FYI I'm not shy.) I've become proud of the fact that I'm a really good listener and adding that to the fact that I'm very empathic, helps me realize why I've had complete strangers tell me their life stories and pour out secrets to me that they felt they couldn't tell others. I'm okay with that fact that I process things better in my own time, in quiet personal space than in large groups and that I need my down time to recharge after big social events. I'm no longer embarrassed about my sensitive side and know when I need to distance myself from bad energy before completely draining myself. I've learned how to love my traits, whether the people around me do or not. Even more, I've learned to appreciate the opposing qualities in friends and family. If you're looking to grow in self respect and improve relationships with those around you, I encourage everyone to take times to teach themselves about different personality types. I promise it will be beneficial!


Thanks for reading! Share with me some of your highlights from 2017 in the comments below! 
P.S. Click on the images below to see a few more photos from my adventures!

Zain + Umema | Snoqualmie Ridge Wedding Reception

Zain and Umema met over nine years ago on campus at the University of WA. Umema was selling roses for a fundraiser when she caught Zain's eye. He pursued her in what bloomed into a beautiful relationship. Umema left to Chicago to further her career for a while, but returned back to Seattle to marry the love of her life.

Adorned in traditional South Asian garments and henna art on her hands, Umema's friends held up a sheet to hide her as Zain had to go in and out of the room while they were getting ready at home. Zain, being the friendly guy he is, would get hurried out by the women as he tried to stop and ask everyone how they were doing. I love the realness of this day so much.

They chose the stunning grounds at the Club at Snoqualmie Ridge with a backdrop of the Cascades for their cultural reception. Mountain-y backgrounds are my new favorite *insert all the heart eye emojis here*! Guests mingled, took many photos and toasted the happy couple before sending them off with sparklers. 

Congrats on your marriage, love birds!

Zain and Umema opted for a first look so they could see each other privately before all their guests swarmed them and showered them with love. I love the look of pure joy as they laid eyes on each other here.

Venue: The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge
Hair: MakeupStarrr
Makeup: Glam by Niha
Decor: Hadiya Decor
Catering: Garam Masala