Lessons I've learned from my parents...

I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I’ve traced my family history pretty far back and have noticed a common theme in small business ownership, mostly among the men (until recently).

My parents each have owned their own businesses since I was really young and I got a lot of my work ethic from watching them.

I saw my dad and my mom both wake up early and stay up late working.

I saw them prioritize family and rarely miss a family event.

I watched them being honest, fair and truthful with their clients every single time and only sold to them what they truly believed in.

I saw them stay true to their beliefs and always take Sundays off to go to church and be with family.

I noticed how financially responsible they were, never living beyond their means or putting on credit what they couldn’t pay off.

I’ve seen the hours they put in learning and getting continued education to be the best at their craft that they could be.

I observed how they supported each other and encouraged each other.


I’ve watched and I’ve learned. And what has stood out to me the most, was the dedication and passion they’ve put into their work not just for their clients or for personal goals, but for their family. They saved up large jars of coins to take us kids on an annual road trip every single year from MI to FL (imagine that mini van with 7 of us in it for 26 hours+). They made sure we ate healthy, nourishing food and always had lunch money. They kept up on medical, dental and chiropractic visits for us, despite the basically non-existent health care plans small business owners struggle with. They encouraged us to have instruments and play in the band, take piano lessons and join whatever sports we wanted to. And when we were old enough, we were taught to put in the work with weekend/night/summer jobs.

Because of all of the sacrifices made and hard work put in, the lessons I’ve learned from my parents over the years have helped shaped who I am and how I now run my business. I may still be learning how the balance part works, but I know when to put family first. I know when to say no and how to be financially responsible. I apply honesty and kindness to everyone I work with and constantly educate myself to give my very best to my clients. I know that I can’t undervalue or undercharge for my services because my family will take the hit.

Mom and Dad, for the lessons you’ve taught me (without probably realizing it), I’m very thankful for them and for you. xoxo

What about you? What lessons have you learned from your parents or family members? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Winter Travel Dates

I’m singing the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” over and over in my head as I write this because I’m so excited it’s actually accurate for me this year! It’s been a couple years since I’ve got to spend the holidays with my family (and even longer since all of my siblings have been together for Christmas) so we’ll be traveling to Upper Michigan December 15th-26th.

I only have 3/5 available dates still open for photo shoots while I’m in the Houghton, MI area so if you’re ready for new portraits, head over to the contact page right now to get the conversation started! Whether you want to update your business/branding photos, lifestyle family photos, need engagement/anniversary photos, or just want personal portraits - I’d love to plan a fun winter photoshoot with you! Heaven knows we’ve got enough snow in the U.P. to build some snowmen outside and then come in for hot cocoa and snuggles. If this sounds like fun, let’s talk!

These dates won’t last long and I’d love to get you in before Christmas Eve so we can both spend the holidays celebrating with our families! Click HERE to send me a message!

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UPPER MI Travel Dates 2018

I'm coming to the Upper Penninsula of MI in July and would love to photograph you! I have just a couple dates left for photo sessions. From personal portraits to engagements, anniversaries or an updated photo for your business - I've got you covered on the beautiful and fun photo side of things.


Head on over here to get in touch: www.janelleelainephotography.com/contact/

See you soon, Yoopers!

These are a few of my favorite things..

Spring allergies are knocking on my door and instead of inviting them in and being all mopey, I figured I'd drink a glass of vitamins and find something positive to do. Which brings me to this list of 10 of my favorite things right now. I'm not endorsed by any of these companies; I'm truly just digging these things.

1. Our Coffee Gator Pour Over. Deliciously smooth coffee is so easy to make in this every morning that my Keurig has officially taken the backseat.

2. My patio palm tree that's fighting incredibly hard to stay alive like a champ.

3. The fact that it's supposed to hit 70 degrees this week. Can I get a hallelujah!?

4. The book I'm currently reading called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. He's a wise man and really inspires me within my business. 

5. Icon Glamorous Wash for my sheets. I was gifted a mini jug of this laundry detergent and my bed smells so. darn. good.

6. Lady Yum Macarons. If you're ever in Kirkland, WA (or the SEA airport), do not miss the opportunity to try these babies.

7. I company I recently discovered called Freeset USA which creates Fair Trade and ethically made products that empower women and help to end human trafficking. You can shop their products here: https://freesetusa.com/pages/our-story

8. Urban Decay Naked Eye Shadow Palettes. These pretties make doing makeup fun.

9. Audiobooks in general (because they make my commutes much more bearable), but this one called Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton in particular has my love and attention this week.

10. Our new alarm clock. It mimics the sun rising by gradually brightening up until my alarm sounds. Some people say it doesn't work, but since I'm a light sleeper - I'm finding success with it! Plus, I'm a fan of not depending on my phone next to my head all night long anymore. 

And there they are! What are some of your favorite things at the moment? I'd love a new book recommendation!

Oh and this photo of my niece sharing her Valentines cookies with my dog Chloe is a bonus favorite because it doesn't get much cuter than this!

Oh and this photo of my niece sharing her Valentines cookies with my dog Chloe is a bonus favorite because it doesn't get much cuter than this!

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. 

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!

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!

Holiday Struggles

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It's the most wonderful time of the year!

But not for everyone.


Hear me out. This season is filled with all things merry and bright, like traditions old and new, trees and lights, cookies and family, music and happy memories! But this isn't the case for everyone. I was recently reminded that the holidays are extremely hard for others. For those who are struggling financially, who aren't surrounded by loved ones, who struggle with depression in the winter months, who feel stressed by trying to keep up, for those who are working while their families celebrate without them, for those have lost loved ones, for those who are reminded of pain from past holidays, etc... 

These people aren't being the grinch. They aren't being party poopers. They aren't cold hearted. They're simply humans who don't find the holidays joyful. They're hurting for different reasons and they don't need our judgement. All they need is a gift any one of us can give to them. 

The gift of compassion, empathy and kindness. All they need is for us to show them love and let them know they are seen, heard and loved. 

That's it.

This holiday season, I ask you guys to join me in being mindful and gifting kindness to everyone around us. Practice extra patience and shine light wherever you go!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each of you, whether you're celebrating traditionally or not.