business casual

Reaching for the stars | Lifestyle Fashion Photographer in Bend, Oregon


Stretch high + reach for the stars.

Who knows... you might just become one, yourself.

Truth time.

There's been a LOT of stretching + reaching.

And a lot of growth.

When I first started out as a photographer, I was HORRIBLE at posing people.

Like, deer in headlights kind of horrible.

See, I loooooove candid photos, and excel at capturing real moments.

But back in the day, I didn't realize how important it was to CREATE the moment + GIVE people a way to interact so they could express that emotion.

I was awkward.

They were awkward.

And thank GOD a friend who'd been in front of my camera finally told me just how awkward it really was.

Because then I got better.

And better.

I studied posing techniques for different body types.

I studied lighting techniques.

I learned how to make people comfortable in front of my camera.

I learned to multitask... keeping up a steady stream of conversation with my "models," while making technical calculations in my head + adjusting my equipment.

My skill set grew + I began to blossom as an artist.

And subsequently, time and time again, I've been told by those who nervously step in front of my camera that the experience was actually FUN.

They say "Wow... you made me look beautiful."

And my reply is always the same... "That beauty was already there. I just helped share it with the world."

Tomorrow, you can see for yourself.

Because tomorrow, the Fall Arts + Fashion Issue of @sourceweekly hits the stands, and one of their main pictorial stories (and the COVER) features 12 models of the zodiac signs, photographed by ME. And the "models" weren't actually models at all. They were REAL people. Which makes my heart even happier.

This was a collaboration of soooooo many awesome people here in Bend... project stylists, hair + makeup artists, jewelry artisans + more. And I can't WAIT to see our work in print.

Go grab the issue as soon as it hits stands... I'd love to hear what you think. ❤️

(Pssst... this isn't an image from that shoot. Those pics are secret till tomorrow. This image is from a past workshop, as I was working on some posing skills.)

Personal Branding is the New Professionalism

I've been chatting lately about the importance of having a great bio picture, and how it can really help get your message across. But today, it's about pulling it all together. Today's post is by Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code:


Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

There's a saying that goes, "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

Oh, honey - that's so twentieth century.

Before you can establish a name for yourself as business person and service provider, you have to have good personal branding. And part of branding is telling your story in a visual way.

Not the story you think the world wants to hear, but your unique, compelling story.

So this is it, baby! A photo shoot is your chance to tell the world who you really are, to differentiate yourself from competitors, and to create an urgent, insatiable desire for your services.

Because, as most of us are aware, clients don't buy services - they buy YOU.

Clients don't buy a haircut, they buy attention and pampering.

Clients don't buy the result of months of dieting and training, they buy the accountability and motivation that comes with a personal trainer.

Clients don't buy legal services, they buy security and peace of mind.

So, for an upcoming photo shoot, you want to take a look at your current branding to see how you can create some consistency. Not in love with your current branding? No problem. Having an updated photo shoot is a great way to course-correct.

Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

And, speaking of branding, we're not just talking type fonts and colors.

When you're planning a photo shoot, you need to consider 2 very important things:

1.) What is the overall theme or concept for my business?

For me, it's rebellion.

My target customers feel like they're on the outside looking in when it comes to fashion. They're dying to be themselves and not ruled by trends - but they do have a desire to be fashionable in their own way.

So, for my own upcoming photo shoot with Michelle, we're going with a theme of rebellion to communicate to my target clients, "I get you."

2.) How does that theme translate visually?

Remember when I said, "clients buy YOU"?

No pressure, but you're basically summing up your entire personality and business in either one or a brief series of photos. However, you can make the process easier by gathering some inspiration images to help guide you - and Michelle - toward the final result.

(Pinterest is a good tool for this, by the way.)

First you need to consider your surroundings - do you want studio or on location?

A studio shoot is going to feel more polished. Everything is more controlled - the lighting, the setting, wind/no wind - and it usually puts 100% of the focus on you.

But maybe that's not your brand. Maybe you want the scene to be part of your brand. Maybe your brand is more outdoorsy or artsy, and a specific, on location scene would actually help you tell your story.

Business Headshots in Orange County by The Suitcase Studio

Now that you've figured out where you'll be shooting, you must decide what you'll be wearing. Here's the deal: you can't phone this in with a plain white button-down and hope that your sparkling smile will be enough.

Long gone are the days when the ultimate goal was to look "professional." Yes, professionalism counts, but people want to know you get them.

To plan your look for your photo shoot, go back to your photo shoot concept (remember, mine is rebellion) and plan your outfit around that. It doesn't necessarily mean that you want to create a literal interpretation of your concept - like a costume - you simply want your outfit to be inspired by this concept.

I've been speaking a lot about

To help you put this together, imagine you're your target client: what do you want them to feel when they see your photo?

The answer: this person gets me. They understand my troubles and have a solution for me.

See, it really comes down to being your true self - just dial it up half a notch for your photos by adding some interest with color, pattern, accessories. Even a simple, but spectacular, dress will do the trick.

And this is where making the investment of quality photography comes in.

Anybody can put a camera in your face and create a pretty picture - but what you need, as a business owner, is someone keen to helping you tell your story in a visual way. A way that compels your target client to imagine working with you, and how transformative it would be for their life.

That's the thing about your clients - they just want to be understood. And they're looking to hire someone to help them feel understood.


Nicole Longstreath is on a mission to save women from the dysfunctional shopping experience. She is a wardrobe stylist working with women across the globe to build personal brands that command attention and influence. You can find her at her home base, http://theWardrobeCode.com


Ready to update your bio photo? Click on the image below to learn more and save your spot!


how to get a good bio pic // part 2

Calling all entrepreneurs, bloggers and business owners... we're continuing the discussion on getting a better bio photo. Last time I told you why it's IMPORTANT to have a good bio pic of yourself. Now we're going to start going a little deeper to show you how to make it happen.

How to Get a Good Bio Photo // Part Two: Incorporating Your Message

First of all, let's agree that your website/blog/social media and branding (in general) are all working together to send a message of some sort to the people that view it/use it/interact with it. The better you know who your target market is, and the better you know yourself (how you'd like your target market to see you), the more customized of a message you can create with your bio pic.


Example one: you've got a blog filled with outings and crafts for the family, a mix of sponsored posts and ones of your own creation; your target market is made up of mothers in their early 30s who are the primary caregiver of the kids (whether they be SAHMs or work part-time or full-time), and your message might be something along the lines of "I'm a mom of 3, balancing work and motherhood just like you, and am here to offer a round-up of fun and family-friendly activities so you have one less thing to stress about in keeping the kids (or yourself) entertained." With this in mind, you'd want to make sure your bio photo makes you appear friendly and casual (for example, through more casual dress/hairstyle, big smile or laugh, tilted body or head, and "movement" in body language).

TFSExample two: you're an accountant charging $425/hour; your target market is a mix of men and women in their early 50s who own their own businesses. The message you might want to get across is something like "I'm confident, reliable and fantastic at what I do; put your faith in me and I will take care of everything for you." With this in mind, the photo would be a bit more on the serious side (for example, through a dressier outfit, calm body language, and making strong eye contact with the camera).

TFSNow, that's not to say that the person in example one doesn't have a serious side, and the person in example two doesn't laugh and play.

But the anatomy of a "good" photograph is different than the psychological structure of one.

What this means: Your bio photo should not only be a good photo of yourself, it should also mirror the message you want to send to your clients.  

Not quite sure what your "message" should be? Try these quick exercises to figure it out:

  1. List 3 words to describe your target market.
  2. List 3 words to describe your business.
  3. List 3 ways your business is unique.
  4. List 3 words to describe yourself, as you'd like your target market to see you.

Once done, look for patterns and select the strongest words, or the ones that resonate with you most. Ta-Da! You have your "message."

Using myself as an example... the 3 words I keep in mind for all of my own branding/marketing: FUN, PERSONAL, and STRESS-FREE.

Now, keeping those three words in mind... look at the two pictures below.

TheSuitcaseStudio Business Casual Bio Photo_0003

I personally looooooooove the image on the left. Not to sound conceited, but I think it's a great picture of myself. My hair is perfectly in place, my skin is smooth, my eyebrows and eye makeup look great, and the look in my eyes is a bit smoldering. Yeah... I rock.

As a comparison... I'm not quite as "pretty" in the picture on the right. I see my flaws a bit more: my eyes always "disappear" when I laugh, my face gets wider, my nose flares a bit, and my top lip pulls waaaaay up to expose a lot of gum above my teeth.

But... most people would NOT have noticed all the little details I just pointed out. Instead, most people are drawn to the PERSONALITY that is exuded in the picture on the right. It's JOYFUL. I'm not only smiling, but LAUGHING. My pose isn't stagnant but is in motion. I'm looking away from the camera, which is always a bit more playful of a pose (and in another psychological ploy, I'm looking towards the right which actually draws the eye in that direction). And, as lovely as it is, the same emotions do NOT apply to the image on the left.

And so, as you might have noticed, I've been using the image on the right as my bio pic. Because even though it's not the most beautiful picture, it is perfectly aligned with my brand: FUN, PERSONAL and STRESS-FREE.

Make sense?  Now it's YOUR turn.


Need a bit of help to get started, or would love for ME to snap your new bio picture? YOU'RE IN LUCK!

Business Casual MINI-SESSIONS are available on February 22 and 23

Registration is now officially OPEN, and space is extremely limited. So be sure to click here to save your spot!


 And stay tuned for part 3 in this series, when we talk about location and lighting.






What's your bio pic REALLY saying about you?

It's a brand new year. I'm sure you hit the ground running, right? A new year means it's the perfect time for a fresh start for your biz... new pricing, updated marketing plan, logo, branding colors and business cards in place, and even a new look for your blog/site. Whew! But there might be ONE thing that was overlooked....

What about your BIO photo?

Now, I'm not talking about the one on your personal Facebook page. Feel free to switch those in and out to your heart's content. What I'm wondering about is a MAJOR component of your brand that often goes overlooked. Yup, your bio photo. If you're an entrepreneur (whether you be in the corporate or the crafty world, have your name on a book jacket or a blog), it's important that you have a PROFESSIONAL photo that is a good representation of yourself. No longer can you get by with using a spiffy logo in place where your face should be... business has become all about connections, and people want to know who they're doing business with.

And repeat after me... A PROFESSIONAL photo does NOT mean it has to be serious or stuffy. In fact, I highly encourage the opposite (and we'll get to that in a moment).

The Suitcase Studio-headshot bio pic

Wondering if you need to worry? Think about this:

  • People make snap judgments. I'm sure you've heard that you have only seven seconds to make a first impression, but did you know that it's even LESS in the online world? A behavioral study showed that people can decide within 50 milliseconds whether they liked a website or not.
  • And that snap judgment can LAST. In what psychologists refer to as the "halo effect," whatever feeling the viewer had at first sight will spread to other areas, such as the website's actual content. And since people like to be right, they will continue to use the site that made a good first impression (as this action confirms their decision was a good one).

Here's what having a good bio pic can do:

  1. Make a quick and clear statement about YOU... who you are as a person and also as a business person/entrepreneur
  2. Help to make an easy (and instant) connection with your target market
  3. Help with brand recognition and reinforcement

The Suitcase Studio-business casual headshot in Orange County

 So... if a picture is worth 1,000 words, what's your bio picture currently saying about you?

And what would you like for it to say instead?

Let's figure it out together, shall we? In my Business Casual portrait session, we get into the nitty gritty of it all... to figure out what message you'd like to convey, how you want people to view YOU, and how to put it together with a few marketing tricks in order to capture the REAL you.

Not ready for a full session? No worries... I'll be giving you a few tips in upcoming posts to help you put it all together yourself (so stay tuned for those! And I won't leave you hanging, either:

MINI Business Casual sessions will be available at the studio on February 22 and 23.

Registration will open for these mini-sessions early next week, and space is extremely limited. So be sure to click here to sign up for my newsletter and be among the first to be notified when registration is live.

See you soon! And stay tuned for more tips on capturing the perfect bio picture. (Next up: how to quickly convey your message.)





meet: Stephanie Barrymore

Meet Stephanie Barrymore. (Hi, Stephanie.) She is an absolutely extraordinary woman... founder of The Selling Method, new leader of the Orange County SMARTY group, a wife & mother, and just an overall pretty awesome person to know. Stephanie came to me a while ago, needing a new headshot. So she signed up for a business casual session with me.

Stephanie was after more than just a pretty picture... she wanted one that showed her personality.

One that showcased a bit of who she IS.



Like what you see? Click here to find out which of my sessions would suit YOU best.



express yourself!

I've never considered myself a fashionista. I've never followed the trends and I'm a bit embarrassed to admit (as an Orange County native) that I don't recognize most name brands. Up till the past few years, I never had any problem finding cute clothes so I never gave it a second thought. But then I turned 30. My metabolism slowed down and my weight started to fluctuate and distribute itself a bit differently. Places like Forever 21 and American Eagle were no longer as body-friendly as they'd been before, and I had many frustrating moments with the mirror in the changing rooms. And the styles had changed so drastically that I looked like I was pretending I was still 16. (I sooooo wasn't.) But the few times I stepped foot into the "women's" section of a store, I just wanted to cry. The items looked old and dowdy... and I really didn't want to purchase something that my grandmother might wear. And I just didn't have the budget to shop in the places I wanted to.

I felt stuck. I found a few "safe" stores and purchased some "safe" clothing. But I felt like I was disappearing. In a strange transitional age and stage of my life, I just didn't know how to dress to properly express myself anymore.

 And then I met Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code.

Nicole was in need of some new images for her "thrifted wardrobe" feature for her blog, and so I become her new photographer. And I learned a LOT from her along the way. Soon after the first feature, I was hooked. I excitedly welcomed her into my home (and inside my scary closet) where she performed her Ready-Set-Dress service. By the time she left, my closet had been organized so I could SEE what was there to work with, a bunch of unnecessary (unflattering) items were purged, my outfits had been planned for the next two weeks, and I had a shopping plan so I could fill in the holes of what was "missing."


A favorite place for Nicole to shop is an Orange County Goodwill store. Because, let's face it... we're in Orange County, and people get rid of some pretty good stuff here. And, as Nicole has told me several times before... since the clothing is so inexpensive, shopping at a Goodwill store not only allows you to spend less and get more, but also allows you to take more fashion risks than you otherwise might have if you were paying full price.

I've been on several shopping trips with Nicole to the Goodwill stores. The first time inside, I was soooooo incredibly overwhelmed. There was just so much to look at... had I been by myself, I think I would have walked back out. But Nicole was awesome... not only did she go through everything quickly and efficiently, but she taught me a LOT as we went through it together. Look for THIS, leave THAT... the conversation was filled with lots of useful WHYs and BECAUSEs. And now, I feel empowered. I am slowly building up a better wardrobe for myself.

I'm uber-proud to show off my haul from my latest trip to the Goodwill a couple weeks ago:

items purchased: 10 shirts and 1 purse

grand total spent: only $55

I was in heaven! Not only did I pick up a few things I'd been searching for, but some of the items were name-brand and brand new, as well. Here's a quick casual outfit I put together for the afternoon from some of my fave Goodwill goodies (new orange top, purse and earrings all from the Goodwill):

This might sound strange... but I felt like a million dollars. I've come a long way from blending into the crowd. I've embraced pattern, color, accessories, and HIGH HEELS! In short, I've embraced my powerful charismatic feminine side and I'm giving her a BIG hug!!!

And I feel more like myself than ever before.

 That's why I'm excited to share this opportunity with you. Nicole is hosting an upcoming workshop where she will be teaching YOU the skills needed to reclaim your wardrobe!

Workshop contents:

  • Accept & Love the Person You are Today
  • Understand How Your Habits Affect Your Wardrobe
  • Identify Your Signature Style
  • Organize Your Closet for Stress-Free Mornings
  • Curate a Wardrobe that is Stylish and Functional
  • Shop Strategically & Save Money
  • Build a “Free-Range” Wardrobe
  • Maximize Your Wardrobe Without Shopping
  • Create Expert Color Schemes
  • Make it Work – EVERY DAY!

Click here for all the details.

I promise you, this workshop will totally be worth it. I don't share something unless I truly believe in it, and I truly believe that Nicole Longstreath of The Wardrobe Code has been a HUGE factor in helping me reclaim my confidence. My exterior finally matches my inner sparkle.

And as a special THANK-YOU, Nicole is offering a special discounted rate to all my friends & fans! Register using code RECLAIM022 for a discounted ticket of $129 (regular price: $150). Click here to learn all about it, or click here to skip right to registration.

And get ready to EXPRESS YOURSELF!



Rachel Hulan - Business Casual Portrait Session

  Introducing Rachel Hulan of Hulan Design

Rachel is friendly, funny, very knowledgeable and way, WAY creative. She is totally UN-boring and loves putting her creativity to good use in order to find clever and unique solutions. And by focusing on incorporating sustainable design into what she does, she's definitely created a niche for herself. Her resume speaks volumes (and you can read more about her here). But how do you get all of this information across to someone when they only have a few seconds to make up their mind? Why, with the addition of a few great photos, of course!

Rachel had recently re-branded her business and was about to launch the new website. What better time to start fresh with some new photos that go beyond the boring headshot? Enter the business casual portrait session. So much more than standard headshots, this portrait session is designed to tap into the person behind the business.

Details on Rachel's session: though she travels all over the country for her business, home is where the heart is... as evidenced by the amazingly gorgeous home office she set up for herself. We started our shoot in there in order to showcase her space. While Rachel is quite modern and just the right amount of funky, there's definitely a sense of history to her style, and she's drawn to pieces with a story behind them... blending the old & the new in a fabulous kind of way.

The Suitcase Studio - Business Casual - Rachel Hulan 01

Rachel also has a beautiful inspiration board set up which she is constantly adding to. So of course we wanted to capture just a glimpse of it. And check out that DESK of hers! It's actually one of her favorite pieces and has been with her for a very long time. And the details... we just had to include one of her favorite pieces in the photos since it is pretty much a staple in her office... a simple white mug from The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

The Suitcase Studio - Business Casual - Rachel Hulan 02

We decided to race the sunset and finish up our photo session in Laguna Beach. Just because we COULD. Ha! No, really... the beach is such a  beautiful place, and what better way to show off some of the Southern California scenery, right?

The Suitcase Studio - Business Casual - Rachel Hulan 03

Now that you've been properly introduced, feel free to stop on by Rachel's site and say hello.


Ready to PLAY along? There’s still time to book a MINI-SESSION for yourself, taking place this Saturday.


Timree for Papyrus

Remember Timree Gold... the fabulous local artist with the sparkling personality? She was on-hand at Papyrus at the South Coast Plaza this past Saturday to sign some of her latest pieces. Besides getting to see (and purchase) some of Timree's fun creations (and getting in some face-time with the artist herself), it was all done while sipping on champagne and grooving to tunes of a DJ. Instant party. And the champagne was almost as bubbly as Timree's personality. I swear, you can't help but smile when you are in her presence.

Celebrating with a bit of bubbly...

There was no way I was going home empty-handed... and THIS ornament was calling my name (or should I say, my DOG'S name).

Imagine my surprise and utter delight when Timree sent me home with a personalized gift... how CUTE are these notecards?!

I was so glad that I was there to support such an amazing artist and friend on such a great day, and I can't wait to be there to celebrate many more successes in the future.

Learn more about Timree Gold by clicking here to visit her website.


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