Birth Story // Rhett Arthur McFarlen

Getting personal here!

I wasn’t sure that I actually wanted to type out Rhett’s birth story but decided to do it because I really enjoyed reading other people’s stories while I was pregnant and I also want this blog post to look back on just for myself. So here goes… On Thursday May 16th at 12:50pm, our baby boy was born. 7 lbs 7.8 oz and 20 inches long. Labor and delivery felt completely surreal and nothing like how I imagined, although I didn’t really even know how to imagine it in the weeks and months leading up to it. I was surprised by the moments of calm and how often they came. Surprised by how light the room felt despite being in a hospital. I chose to have an epidural so I guess I have a nice anesthesiologist man to thank for my moments of calm and lightness during labor. In the hours before Rhett came, it was still so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that we would be bringing our first baby into the world so soon. Casey and I were joking about how the hospital felt like an airport where time has absolutely no relevance. We got there about 1am without sleeping at all so Wednesday blurred right into Thursday and we quickly lost track of time altogether.

I think it was just after 4am that I got checked and was told I was dilated to 7cm so we decided it was time to give our families their “time to drive to Tacoma!” wake up call. Everyone showed up around 8am, with the exception of my dad who was already in the area for work and I think popped in before the main hospital entrance was even open (it’s kind of a family joke how my dad always ends up ridiculously early for things so this gave us a good laugh when he waltzed in). Once everyone was there, the room really filled with this excited and happy energy and my nerves melted away as we just hung out and waited for things to happen -Christmas morning vibes almost- and it didn’t take long for things to happen.

Fast forward… The midwife who was on call showed up between 10:30am-11am after I told my nurses I was feeling a lot of pressure and like I needed to push soon. Sure enough, I was dilated to 10cm and it was time. From 11am until he was born was definitely the most intense part of the whole thing. Pushing was hard. Not really painful (thank you nice anesthesiologist man) just hard. Like the hardest workout of my life along with way more pressure than I thought it was possible to feel. Just when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore and felt myself starting to quit, the midwife got super serious and said he was close and she coached me through the last few pushes and boom… there was a baby on my chest. I mean, basically.

So there it is. I’m not much of a writer and if the story seems abbreviated it’s because I’m racing against Rhett’s nap time. I mostly wanted to share this set of photos that are so, SO special to me. Casey and my mom took turns documenting everything and I’m so happy they did.

If you were wondering, becoming a mom is the most incredible feeling in the world and just like everyone says, you don’t realize how much you can love someone until you look down at that baby on your chest for the first time.

Intimate Couples Session // Seattle Couples Boudoir

Intimate couples sessions, or couples boudoir is a fairly new concept that has been quickly gaining popularity for obvious reasons and I could not be more on board with the idea! As a photographer, I have always felt like the most important part of my job is telling the story of who my subject(s) are at the time I am photographing them. I have found that photographing couples indoors can help them feel so natural and relaxed and forget I’m even there.

With my first baby coming in May, I made the decision to take less 2019 weddings and have been focusing more on other parts of my business during this time. Boudoir photography has quickly become one of my favorite things and I am often doing sessions at a studio in either Tacoma or Seattle. The majority of my clients are brides-to-be wanting to have photos done to give their soon to be husband as a gift on their wedding day but I would love to see more couples book sessions together to capture the more intimate side of their relationship and have photos to keep as memories forever.

Kitsap Memorial State Park // Shayna+ Mark // A Wedding in the Woods

I LOVE this wedding. It’s been almost a year since this day but looking at these photos right now as I blog them, I’m totally taken back to the magic that was their wedding day. For one, this setting. I love a wedding in the woods. The tall trees in this state park completely set the mood for this beautiful day. Shayna and Mark’s Jewish traditions were so fun to witness and made this day so special for them and their families. Shayna looked stunning in her @clairepettibone gown and every single detail designed by @bixbyandpine was perfect.

Planning/Design/Florals: @bixbyandpine // Photography: @samanthamcfarlen // Videography: @marcellalaine // HMUA: @roguestyling // Stationery: @elevenandwest // Ring box: @the_mrs_box // Ribbon: @honeysilksco // Venue: Kitsap Memorial State Park // Catering: Leah's Catering of Seattle // Rentals: @uniquechicrentals (tables/chairs/benches, @pedersenseventrentals (dinnerware), @bbjlinen (napkins/linens) // DJ: RUDYvents // Guitarist: Steve Allen // Tent: @stouttent // Gown: @clairepettibone // Reception dress: @bhldn // Bridesmaid Dresses: @showmeyourmumu


Vantage Engagement Session // Andy + Wuen // Eastern Washington Wedding Photographer // Samantha McFarlen

Andy + Wuen made my job easy. Let's start with a little bit about them: They lead worship together and music is BIG part of their relationship. These two are kind and sweet, and really stylish. Andy used to work in the women's shoe department of Nordies, and I secretly wanted him to be my personal shopper and help re-do my entire wardrobe. Accepting applications now, BTW.

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Teaser // Maroni Meadows // Vanessa + Ryan // PNW Wedding Photographer // Samantha McFarlen

I'm gonna make this short and sweet: Vanessa + Ryan are my kinda people. They're laid back, say-what's-on-your-mind kinda people, who wanna celebrate and party with their friends and family. I can't wait to show you the whole wedding, but in the meantime, here you go!

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Acre Baja // Carson + Alex // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Destination Wedding Photographer // Samantha McFarlen

This is a wedding I won't soon forget. For a bunch of reasons. Here is one: Mexico.

Carson + Alex got engaged in Hawaii and when I got the inquiry for their wedding in my inbox, I did a happy dance, or peed a little. I'll let you decide.

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Snoqualmie Falls Proposal // Loren + Shawna

Every once in a while someone asks me what the coolest thing I've ever gotten to photograph is. 

This proposal is my new answer. 

Proposals are the sweetest things to witness. I get so nervous for the guy knowing he's about to ask the most important question of his life and I feel so exited for her because she has no idea what is about to happen. It's seriously the best. 

Loren set it all up a couple weeks before. They were going to be staying at the Salish Lodge overlooking Snoqulamie Falls and he wanted to take her on a walk on the last day of their vacation and propose to her right in front of the waterfall. He and I secretly coordinated the meeting time and place and he sent me some photos of them so I knew who to look for and didn't accidentally stalk and photograph the wrong couple out on a walk together. Shawna didn't know I was there photographing the whole thing until after he proposed. Then we got to do some fun newly-engaged photos!

Lauren+Connor // Kingston, WA Engagement Session

 

I really love this engagement session and this couple. Lauren is such a sweet and fun person - I mean, so is Connor but I met Lauren first so I'm going to talk about her. I met her a couple years ago while the girls of Bixby and Pine and I were in Tacoma for an event and met up with Lauren for dinner and drinks. Lauren was dating Connor who is Taylor and Jordan of Bixby and Pine's brother... Connor, as in the one in this photos. Now they're engaged! Well, married actually. I'll blog those photos and tell that story later but you can ready about it here.

Anyway, Lauren and I took shots together and danced on stage at a dueling piano bar downtown Tacoma. Instant friendship ensued. We both got job offers from said piano bar that night. I guess our dancing was as good irl as I was imagining it to be while in my tequila induced judgement lapse. She took the job. I retired from dancing on things at a career high. Connor was like, I need to wife this chick up. They got engaged. I took their photos. The rest is history.

Enjoy the cuteness.

 

The Wilmarts // Ellensburg, WA Family Session

 

I just realized while picking photos for this post that I have never blogged a family session before. The majority of my work is weddings and engagements but I really love capturing families as well. I had the pleasure of working with Morgan for a little while at a frozen yogurt shop (Utopia!!) in Ellensburg, WA while my husband was finishing up college at CWU. She is someone who can make your day better just by being around them. Which turned out to be very convenient because most of my shifts started earlier in the morning than I have ever willingly gotten out of bed before that job or since (we served coffee as well as froyo.) We quickly became friends and I've gotten to photograph her and her husband's family over the years. 

Also I should mention, if you ever have the opportunity to work in a frozen yogurt shop. Do it. Don't ask questions - just do it. I ate so much froyo that year and have absolutely zero regrets. 

 

Kirsti+Gavin // Downtown Seattle Engagement Session

 

I don't do a ton of sessions downtown Seattle but when Kirsti asked if we could do their engagement photos there I got really excited. Kirsti and Gavin have the best style and I knew the urban setting for their photos would be perfect. We did these photos a couple days after Christmas so the city was still looking festive with lights hanging in the trees. The bright red wall was the outside of a Target building and I thought it would be fun to do some photos in front of it... I was still in the Christmas spirit or something, idk. (BTW who else is so happy that it's spring now!?!)

Ok here are photos.

 

All About E-Sessions // Engagement Session Tips for Photographers and Couples

Everyone knows that summer is wedding season in the Pacific Northwest. And If you don't know, now you know. What you might not know unless you're a photographer is that spring is engagement photo season. Here are some tips and tricks for awesome engagement sessions, whether you're going to be in front of the camera or behind!

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Location:

Unless you have a specific spot in mind for your engagement session that you as the engaged couple or you as the photographer have your heart set on, location isn't really as important as you might think. The truth is, not every photo session needs to be on an epic mountain top or in front of a waterfall. My favorite photos have been from just stumbling upon the perfect spot with the perfect light and not necessarily a planned location. Rather than picking a meeting spot such as a park to spend the majority of the session at, I suggest meeting up and then riding around (or walking if things are close!) together to find the spots you're going to use for photos. I usually try to plan around a nearby open field, beach or park area for ending the session at. Open areas are great when the sun is lowest (HEYYY GOLDEN HOUR) and give you plenty of space for movement in the poses. Now, I'm totally not saying you should go in to it without a plan. Location scouting ahead of time is great. Sometimes I'll go on google earth and look for places that look like they might be good photo locations and then I'll spend a day driving around and checking them out in person. My point is, don't stress yourself out over location too much. An overgrown empty lot with the right light can look majestic af. 

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Outfits: 

I usually have my couples bring 2-3 outfits, a mix of casual and more dressed up looks. It's important to look like yourselves and wear things you feel comfortable in. If you're not comfortable it will show in your face. I tell my couples to save their favorite outfit for last. By the end of the session you're usually feeling the most comfortable and some of the best photos come out of that last set at the end of the shoot. 

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Pre-Shoot Nerves. They're a thing.

The key to great engagement photos is getting out of your comfort zone! Being in front of the camera is scary, I get it. But the minute you forget the photographer is there and start being yourselves, laughing together, cuddling, dancing around, is when your photos go from good to great. Play some music on your drive to the session and get ready to have fun together! I like to keep a lot of movement in my sessions because when things slow down, I feel like couples start to get uncomfortable. Smiles get fake and poses get stiff and awkward. So... if you're shooting with me, get ready to move around a ton and get a little weird. 

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Weather

Something else to keep in mind. Seattle area weather is unpredictable. Decide ahead of time if you're willing to embrace the rain or if you're more of a fair weather engagement session kind of couple. Personally, I think rainy engagement sessions are super romantic. 

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Ashley+Craig // Vineyard Wedding in Walla Walla Washington

 

Ah, you guys. This wedding. This day was so beautiful in every single way imaginable. From the gorgeous home the bridal party got ready in to the golden sunset later that evening. The venue was goals, flowers were on point, dress was FIRE and Ashley looked amazing in it, details were so perfect for this summer vineyard wedding and most importantly this couple. Ashley and Craig are two of the sweetest and funniest people and it was very obvious that they were SO exciting to be getting married and were having the absolute best day together. 

Just a warning, these photos will make you miss summer. 

Venue: aMaurice Cellars - Walla Walla Washington 
Second Photographer: Casey McFarlen
Videography: Ridgewood Films
 

Kristan+Arya // Destinatation Wedding in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

 

Well I'm going to apologize in advance... this is a long one. Narrowing down what images to share from a wedding like this one isn't exactly the easiest thing to do. Casey (my husband and second shooter for anyone new here) and I flew down to Playa del Carmen (Mexico) to document Kristan and Arya's wedding day. It. Was. Amazing.  We had so much fun with this group of people and added some extra time to enjoy a vacation at the most beautiful resort. 

Kristan and Arya are two of the most fun people who are so loved by all of their friends. It was a happy day for all their friends and family getting to celebrate them and they couldn't have picked a better location for it!

I'm bad at blogging, you know this, so I'm going to stop typing and let you look at the photos. 

K bye.  

 

Lifestyle // Happily Evergreen

When Brenna of Happily Evergreen asked me about doing a hiking lifestyle session for her blog, I knew we were going to have fun and make some cool images together. We spent a rainy fall morning in Port Angeles adventuring in the Olympic National Park and talking about her recent and somewhat spontaneous move from the East Coast to #westcoastbestcoast! 

This chick is rad and her blog will make you want to go get lost in the woods. You can also follow her Instagram @_happilyevergreen HERE

McKenna+John // Seattle, WA Beach Engagement

I'm terrible at blogging. 

But I'm making a promise to myself to be better at it this year.

I have so many sessions to share and rather than being overwhelmed by which to share first, what images to pick from each session, WHAT THE EFF TO WRITE about each session I'm going to just do it.

So here is McKenna and John's engagement session. We hung out at the beach in Ballard. John got very distracted with some ducks that we affectionately named the "Ballard Mallards." I got distracted with airplanes flying overhead. We got into a heated debate with a man on the correct usage of the word "literally". The whole thing was kind of a showcase of adult ADD and it's a wonder I was able to get as many photos as I did. 

But I did. So here you go. 

Very excited to head to Richmond, VA in October to capture their wedding day!

Yay, blogging.