Befores + Afters


My life can be measured in a series of "befores" and "afters." 

Before and after the divorce. 

Before and after moving to Oregon. 

Before and after my renewed sense of self-confidence.

What I like to refer to as the OLD me and the NEW me.

The OLD me never would have done this. I mean, I would have WANTED to, but I never would have dared. The simple act of sitting alone in the middle of a busy restaurant, enjoying a solo meal. I mean, alone. And at BRUNCH... the one meal designed for gatherings of people. 

Gasp and swoon. I know. 

And while this isn't exactly earth-shattering stuff (and you just might be rolling your eyes as you're reading this), it took me YEARS to get to this point. Not just being okay with the solo-journey, but actually ENJOYING it. Seeking it out, on purpose

I could have invited my boyfriend along. I could have called up a few friends, too. But I wanted a different kind of experience this morning. I missed myself, and wanted to take HER on a date. 

So I sit here and indulge. Take time over my coffee. Sneak glances at the couples and families around me (making up stories in my head about them), and smile at the waitstaff rushing by. I read a new book, and journal a few words in the notebook that I keep stashed in my purse for such occasions. 

Totally content, caffienated, and ready to take on the rest of my day.

With confidence.

// pssssst... if you're ever in Bend, Oregon and have the chance to eat at McKay Cottage... doooooo eeeeeeet!!! 

Christina + Mark // Maternity Session in Bend, Oregon

"I can't really put into words what I'm looking for... but something that looks like natural poses without actually being overly posed. What we are looking for during this shoot is something a bit different. I don't like cliche poses. I want this shoot to capture our fun loving relationship and be as natural as can be while capturing the deep love we already have for our little guy."

Mission. Accomplished.

Christina and Mark were troopers. They'd picked out a spot for their maternity shoot ahead of time, but of course Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate. The temps dropped to below 50, and then it even started to rain a bit.

But they didn't care. They nuzzled, whispered wishes for their baby's future, and spoke aloud the many things they loved about each other.

And the magical moments unfolded before my camera. Click. Wow.

Check out a few highlights from this maternity session below:

Christina + Mark had come to me wanting a few photos to hang on the wall of their nursery. They left with the photos they'd desired... and a few beloved memories.

A sample canvas wall art display, showcasing a few of their favorite images. My clients can "try before they buy" to ensure their wall art is the perfect fit for their home.

A sample canvas wall art display, showcasing a few of their favorite images. My clients can "try before they buy" to ensure their wall art is the perfect fit for their home.

Interested in a maternity session or another photo session of your own? Contact me to get started!

How to: take SPLASH pictures

Photography has long been used as a way to freeze a moment of time. And now you can take that to the next level, with incredibly awesome SPLASH photos.

I recently challenged myself to capture some pictures of cookies splashing into milk as updated marketing photos for The No Bake Cookie Co.

And I was so thrilled with the outcome, that I wanted to share how I got those splash photos with you all! (Because some things are just better when they're shared...) So, ENJOY!

learn how to take milk splash photos by The Suitcase Studio // marketing photo taken in Bend, Oregon for No Bake Cookie Co

How to capture SPLASH photos

1.   ITEMS NEEDED: A mug or glass, milk or another liquid (coffee might be pretty awesome here, too), something to drop into the liquid for the big splash (I used a No-Bake Cookie), a table or ledge to set the mug/glass on, a backdrop of some kind (I used black cloth), a tripod for your camera, and a fast lens (able to open to an aperture of 2.8, 2.0, etc.)

2.   SETUP: I set up a folding in the shade (for indirect sunlight). I set an empty cardboard box on the table for some background height, then draped the black cloth over the box and the table. Ta-Da... instant mini-studio! The camera was placed on the tripod at the edge of the table (to avoid the splash zone), and tilted downward just a bit for my desired angle.

3.   CAMERA SETTINGS: I used my 50 mm lens for this one. My aperture was set to f/2, ISO 400, and a shutter speed of 1/3200. I set my camera to BURST mode, so I could hold the shutter button down, rapid-fire style, and capture LOTS of images in a short amount of time (because you never know WHEN the best splash will happen)!

4.   DO THE THING: The mug was set on the table and I framed my shot. It helped to fill the mug up all the way to the TOP with milk, to create a much better splash. It's also easiest to do this with an assistant, so you're not reaching awkwardly to drop the cookie and snap the pics at the same time. I had my helper hold her finger near the "drop zone," so my camera had something to focus on, using auto-focus. I then switched the lens to manual focus, so my camera wouldn't get confused and try to focus on anything else. NOTE: Once you've set your focus, don't move the mug , camera, or tripod!

5. DROP AWAY! Take pics. Play. Change the angle and framing from vertical to horizontal (and reset focus), till you get what you like. And don't forget to have FUN!

how to take milk splash photos - by The Suitcase Studio - marketing photos for No Bake Cookie Co in Bend, Oregon

Want some AWESOME marketing pics for your OWN business?

Like what you see? I'm available for hire in Oregon and California... hit me up to learn more!

Interested in learning how to take better pictures on your own? Sign up below!





Bend, Oregon Engagement: Justin + Meghan

Justin + Meghan met at an 80's night at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR, and it was pretty much love at first sight. As Meghan, herself, put it...

"I remember leaving that night after we spent the whole evening dancing and laughing, feeling like I had just met someone I couldn't live without."

And they've pretty much been together since.

We incorporated their great love for the outdoors... and their pup, Bozley... into a FUN engagement photo session in the Deschutes National Forest.

Armed with an adorable blanket, special coffee + mugs, and a favorite Pandora playlist, we found ourselves having a picnic at Big Eddy, followed by a short hike to Dillon Falls.

It was a FANTASTIC morning all around, even more so that we managed to dodge the thunderstorm that rolled through right after we were finished. (Major high-fives all around for the great timing on THAT one!)

Thank you SOOOOOO much, Justin + Meghan, for SUCH an incredible morning, and for letting me capture a few new memories for you, and I can't WAIT for your wedding day!!!

Bend, Oregon Lifestyle Wedding Photographer -  The Suitcase Studio - Engagement Photos at Big Eddy - Picnic with Dog
Bend, Oregon Lifestyle Wedding Photographer -  The Suitcase Studio - Engagement Photos at Big Eddy - Picnic with Dog
Bend, Oregon Lifestyle Wedding Photographer -  The Suitcase Studio - Engagement Photos at Dillon Falls - Deschutes Forest - Fun photo services
Bend, Oregon Lifestyle Wedding Photographer -  The Suitcase Studio - Engagement Photos at Dillon Falls - Deschutes Forest - Fun photo services

Look like FUN + wanna learn more about a lifestyle photo session of your OWN? Contact me to get started... I can't wait to see what YOUR story will look like!

Happy National Puppy Day from The Suitcase Studio!

As a lifestyle photographer here in Bend, Oregon, I love to capture photos of my daily life.

And if you've been following The Suitcase Studio for a while over on Instagram or Facebook, you may have noticed that pictures of my DOG seem to pop up QUITE a bit!

That's cuz Jasper is a HUGE part of my life. He's my sidekick. My favorite little buddy. My pain in the butt and my constant clown. He's been by my side during celebratory moments, and has also licked my salty tears when I'm down.

I couldn't have asked for a better companion, and I'm so very glad he's a part of my life.

I'm sure I have thousands of photos of him from over the years, but this one is STILL one of my faves.  I mean, c'mon... who can resist a dapper little dude in a bowtie?

Dapper dachshund in bowtie, photographed by Bend, OR lifestyle photographer The Suitcasee Studio

Dapper dachshund in bowtie, photographed by Bend, OR lifestyle photographer The Suitcasee Studio

twinning it up // fun family photos in California

This family lights up my heart SOOOO much. I've been photographing them for over 4 years now, and it's been fun to watch the girls as they grow. And add a PUPPY to the mix, and I was in HEAVEN!

We decided to take photos at Shoreline Park in Long Beach, which not only provided a GOOORGEOUS backdrop (hel-LO ligthhouse!), but gave the puppy (and the GIRLS) pleeeeenty of space to run around and play. And roll down grassy hills. And jump off benches. And all the other stuff that kids WANT to do outside. (FREEEEEDOOOM!!!)

And so, we played. And I chased. And ran up hills right alongside them. And played Simon Says. And "find the man named Bob that lives inside my camera." And all other sorts of hilarious stuff that made the girls (and their fathers) giggle and laugh and have a GOOD TIME.

Here are a few of my favorite moments captured that afternoon. I hope you'll love them as much as I do!

jon-william-twins social media collages 2.jpg

If your heart is SMILING, let me know! Leave a comment below or, even better, CONTACT ME for a photo session of your OWN!

the napkin note

The lunch bell would ring, and I would race to meet my friends behind the statue in the quad. But as everyone else hugged hello (as if we hadn't seen each other in YEARS and not just a period or two ago) and started to tease and laugh and flirt, I would take a moment apart from the crowd to open my brown paper bag, excited at what I'd find within.

My dad packed my lunch each morning, so I knew I'd find the usual fare... lunchmeat + cheese sandwich cut diagonally, some pringles and maybe some oreos (ummm, yeah... the concept of a healthy diet wasn't exactly a hot topic in our household). But my FAVORITE discovery was always the daily napkin note I knew would be there.

Not an emotionally demonstrative man, my dad was never short on sharing words of love as long as he could WRITE them down instead.

So each day I received a "love note" of sorts. Written in ALL CAPS in sharpie marker on a puckered white paper napkin.

Sometimes his words would wish me luck on an upcoming test, some days I'd receive an inspirational quote, and other days he simply wrote of how proud he was to be my father. And each day I would get the warm and fuzzies, simply seeing those XOXOXOs signed at the bottom of the paper napkin.

Such a simple gesture, but one that has remained with me always.

And who knew I would become so like him in so many ways. I find it difficult to say the words aloud at times, and I write them down instead. Journals, post-it-notes, notebooks... papers scattered across my home. In my instagram posts. And now, here.

Because we could ALL use a little LOVE NOTE at times. A few words of encouragement, an inspirational quote, or simply something to say I SEE YOU and LOVE YOU no matter what.

So, carrying on the tradition, here's my first of many napkin notes to come.

And what BETTER time to start than on a Monday... when we could ALL use a little pep-talk?!

the big day // Bend, Oregon Lifestyle Wedding Photography

It was finally the BIG day, and she was a bundle of nerves... dancing through the house on her tiptoes, waving her freshly manicured fingernails about, and peeking around the corner at the grownups in their fancy dresses as they sat side-by-side, getting their makeup done.

A moment later it would be her own turn... with a few strokes of blush and straightened hair, today was definitely an occasion to play dress-up.

Because today was the day her mother was getting married, and she'd be getting a new step-dad, too!

Helped into her flowergirl dress and fancy shoes, she gave one last grin and flew up the stairs to excitedly show off just how TALL she was in her fancy shoes... and they even had HEELS. A few squirts of perfume, and she was feeling like one of the ladies.

With the others still getting ready, the bride-to-be turned to her daughter for assistance in getting dressed in a fancy gown of her own. And what started out as a time-saving convenience turned into a once-in-a-lifetime moment between mother and daughter.

Tiny fingers zipping up her mother's wedding dress, as her mother might be doing for HER one day. And watching in awe as the woman before her transformed from "Mom" into a glamorous bride that could decorate the pages of a magazine.

See, the wedding day isn't always just about the bride and groom...

There are soooooo many amazing stories happening in the background, and it's my pleasure to bring them to light.

That's the fun in being a lifestyle photographer. Seek and ye shall find... because we ALL have a story to tell.