It’s always special to photograph friends you’ve known for years – it was wonderful to see the “kimmel kids” all grown up with children of their own!  Thanks for spending an hour with me, smiling for the camera.  🙂

This is my fabulous niece, Hope.

When I researched the name Hope, and also looked up general definitions for the word, my favorite was short and simple…but profound.

Hope: (n) A feeling of trust.

Hope is a pre-teen.  I think they call them “tweens” nowadays.  Watching this beautiful girl grow up made me want to ask her questions, and talk about all the crazy feelings that accompany the journey from child to teenager.  It’s a confusing transition, at least for a girl.  And trudging the windy road from fifth grade through the beginning of sophomore year can feel like forever…a corn maze of mind-games and social rules that all contradict each other.  I think it’s safe to say they were the most indescribably awkward years of my human existence…I trust many others girls feel the same.

Because of this, I stole Hope from her family, and we ran off to a local coffee shop to talk about all the stuff no one has words for.  You see, there is a sensation in the soul that keeps wondering “who am I,” but no answer seems to satisfy.  All the answers just point to something else…a new identity to be denied or embraced.  In the end, the stillness comes in the asking – not in solutions – which is why I believe that simply listening (with maybe a head nod here and there) is such a powerful act of love.

Do I sit at the kids table, or the adult table?  What do I like?  Am I still allowed to like what I used to, and am I going to be allowed to like what I’m drawn to?  What does being cool even mean, anyway?  Is it something you just are, or something that happens to you?  And is it the same thing as status?  I thought adults didn’t care about being cool – they tell you not to care – but then they act different in front of each other…if we aren’t supposed to care about fitting in, then why would anyone even have secrets in the first place?  Is this feeling loneliness?  No, it’s not that…it’s something else…I don’t know what it is.  I’ll have the blended drink with extra-whipped cream.

Good questions, Grasshopper.

Unfortunately, having survived the same type of identity storms, I have no answers, my Dear.  I do, however, have some other things to offer…like a hug, an over-sized chocolatey milk-shake thing they call coffee, and a stroll along beach-town sidewalks with an aunt that loves you.  And some outrageously embarrassing stories – I had to tell her some of those, too.

I suppose this is why we all need a little Hope – a little feeling of trust.  Trust that things will turn out Ok.  Trust that discomfort is temporary.  And trust that girlhood, all stages of it, are pretty awesome.

We need to trust that we are the most beautiful things in the world…because we are.

Hope and I talked about more than our struggles.  We also talked about popular boy-band music, sibling relationships, her oh-so-adult coffee beverage, religion, and Disney princesses…it was amazingly eclectic. Yes, be jealous.

Cheers to you, Hope.  Keep drawing princesses.  Keep pursuing your own sense of fashion.  Keep exploring…and don’t feel like you have to grow up too fast.  It’s definitely overrated (*wink).

So, as many of you know, I recently wrote a post about not photographing my family enough.  Well, featured below is my husband’s brother’s family, who I love as my own.  Mark and Melanie have four beautiful kiddos – three girls and a new baby boy.  We all took a trip to Carlsbad, CA a few months back, and I’ve finally made the time to edit and post some of my favorite photos from our trip.

For anyone who would like to schedule Summer Beach Photography for next summer, please keep me in mind!  I would love to travel out for a weekend or two during the dreadfully hot Arizona months.  You can contact me through my main website, or by clicking the contact button in the main menu of this blog.

Thank you for allowing me to share my family with you!


It took me a long time to prioritize loving my workspace (see my new desk below!).  I’m lucky enough to work out of my home office, but I’m not a naturally organized person – it takes extra mindfulness and effort.  Now that I work from home, I label everything…I mean everything!  And I am meticulous about putting things in their place.

When I had a storefront in Scottsdale a few years ago, keep equipment, mailing supplies, papers, and marketing materials in their respective spaces was easy; after all, the laundry wasn’t calling my name, the door bell never rang, and I wasn’t distracted by the possibility of cooking dinner early.  Once I moved my office back home, however, I found myself getting behind with keeping a systemized work place. I had to nip this in the butt, and fast…

…so I did!  And I have since decided to share a few of the benefits that accompanied my serious organization:

1. More Time.

Spending the few minutes each day it takes to stay organized helps us save the hours of time it would have taken to find things or play “catch up” otherwise.  This includes electronic filing and online documents.  You know what more time means?  Well, for me it means more dates with friends, my husband, and my dogs.  Pretty good trade, huh?

2. More Money.

If I need something by tomorrow and can’t find it by tonight, I buy it…again.  Do you know how many double A batteries I found when I packed up my old house to move?  Like, a bajillion.  There were a few dozen in the refrigerator, a handful in the kitchen drawer, a few in the garage, and about twenty loose ones in various camera and luggage bags.  Listen, batteries are expensive!  I don’t know what it is about me and electronics, but I can’t count the number of USB extensions, memory cards, and i-phone chargers I purchased before making a commitment to stay organized.  Since keeping things in their proper place, my husband and I could probably refinance our house on the money I’ve saved on batteries alone.

3. Less Stress.

Being organized = putting things away.
Putting things away = less clutter.
Less clutter = less stress.
Less stress = happier Rachel.  🙂

4. Reliable Character.

We are less likely to disappoint ourselves and others with the forgetfulness that results from “rushing out the door.”  Believe it or not, there was a time when I forgot to take my camera to a wedding shoot!  I’m not even kidding – I had all the equipment I’m prone to forget for event photography gigs: tripod, flashes, extra batteries, my back-up camera, cash for valet, directions to the venue, etc.  In the midst of gathering all the “extras,” the most obvious item was missed by my mind’s blind spot.  Had I been organized, set out my equipment, and reviewed my checklist the night before, I wouldn’t have been so flustered an hour before departure.

And just in case you’re wondering, everything turned out just fine – I called my assistant and asked her to pick up my camera while I used my back-up).  It’s certainly a mistake I’ve never made since (and will never make again!).

5. Transition Management.

Being organized allows us to manage transitions with ease.  If I’m aware of an event’s schedule, where things are located, and how to contact others easily, last minute changes are no longer obstacles – I can simply ride the waves and go with the flow.  Paradoxically, being strict about responsible organization helps me retain a relaxed, easy-going attitude.  Why?  Because I can trust my preparation and consistency.

New Work Desk

And just for fun, check out my new work desk (above)!

When I moved, I recycled a bunch of old, wooden storage boxes to build a dresser/desk specifically designed for my workflow.  It was super fun, and has helped me truly cherish my workspace!  With a little cabinetry wood from The Home Depot, some drawer glides from The Container Store, a screwdriver, and a willing husband, I enjoy the coolest and most eclectic piece of furniture around *wink.  It took some hard sanding and staining on my part, but it’s been worth it!

Get creative and love yourself by loving your space!


Check out Rachel’s tips on Creative Business Branding!

Live in Arizona and need a personal Q&A session?  Get the scoop on ONE2ONE sessions here!  I love helping other photographers – let’s get together and chat about the wedding industry, organized workflow, tricks of the trade, and coffee (of course, coffee) *wink.

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I don’t post a lot of photos of my own family, probably because I don’t make enough time to take them!

I was lucky enough to spend some time with my entire family this last Mother’s Day (both my brothers, my parents, my husband, and my older brother’s family).  It was very special.

Here are a few snapshots that help me remember how important family really is.  🙂

Oh, how I love the Button family!  Meet Melissa, Tyler, and Miss Bee.  A delightful trio with big time creativity!

A month or so ago, Mel emailed me this photo from the internet:


Sadly, I don’t know who took the photos, nor where to give credit (I’m happy to do so if anyone email’s me the information)…however, I thought it was a GREAT idea, and a wonderful option for us Phoenicians here in the super hot summer!  Considering temperatures are over 100 degrees this June, this was an awesome art project – way to go, Mel!

First, we documented her growing family in front of their beautiful entry way doors.  After some quick standing, sitting, and walking photos, we moved to the pool and celebrated Arizona style.  *wink!

Happy summer, everyone – stay cool!


I don’t know if you’ve heard about it yet, but there is this amazing color scheme sight called The Perfect Pallette.  This year, I’ve seen a few yellow weddings, which have turned out beautiful.

According to Bourne Creative, yellow is associates with “freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honor, loyalty, and joy…”

Find out what your favorite colors stand for and how they make you feel – after all, these extraordinary life events are an expression of, well – you!  🙂

Featured below are photos from Paige and Derek’s yellow and grey wedding.  These two met in college (see Paige and Derek’s engagement session here), and eagerly awaited their Arizona wedding!  Paige and Derek were married in Scottsdale, Arizona at their family church, and had a gorgeous ceremony at El Chorro in Paradise Valley (check out Tiffany and Brendan’s wedding at El Chorro)…Congrats you two!

So, we all know that the men in our lives don’t always love getting photos taken (*wink).  However, the men I photograph are total super-troopers.

The catch?  Their entire shoots only last 30 minutes.  Yup, thirty.  Three – zero.  That’s fifteen times two.  For real, Girlfriend!  I mean, anyone can smile for half an hour, right?  That’s not even five whole minutes in football time.  If my husband can do it, your can too (PS: Moms and daughters, don’t forget to reward the men in your lives with lots of kisses…and beer, of course…maybe a golf weekend, too…whatever it takes.  Photos are forever!).

The Borst family (featured below) are great friends to my husband and I, and it was such a pleasure photographing them again this year!  Their shoot took place at DC Ranch Marketstreet – check out a recent engagement shoot at the same location to see how much variety it offers.

A quick tip for photographers: Always read your clients. Remember, working with energy is more important than achieving that one “perfect” photo.” It’s important for people to feel as though the session was as enjoyable as possible (or, depending on personalities, involves the least amount of suffering possible). Many artists throw customer service aside as they pursue their “art.” Reality check: we may be photographers, but we are providing a service to deserving, paying clients. Take care of ‘em with love!

Find more information about Mini-Sessions and other portrait FAQ’s, click here.