Justin Gambino - Journey Within My Soul (Olympia, WA)

Turns out house concerts are a thing! A really amazing thing!

We recently attended Justin Gambino's 'Journey Within My Soul' at a private residence in Olympia, WA and had an amazing experience! Justin's voice is unique, authentic and as raw as his message. He is passionate and lives for his music. Opening for Justin was the melodic and thoughtful Whitlee Casey. Justin + Whitlee are deeply spiritual and committed to their journey, both together and apart they have a united message worth hearing.

Definitely an entertaining show.

For those who attended and are interested in downloading images click HERE.

To find a show near you click HERE.

"She's the one with the elephant logo"

Hi! I'm the photographer with the elephant you guessed I get that often.

As a photographer, our logo also known as a "brand" is like our label. It tells you, our clients, a little bit about us with just one little image. An elephant may be a bit strange for a brand, but I feel that it truly fits me and show who I am and and how I want to represent my business.

Travel back in time with me and I'll tell you about where my love with elephants started.

My first encounter with an elephant was when I was about three years old, my daddy took me to the circus in my hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. Elephants are pretty large creatures, especially compared to a little girl but I had no fear. I was so curious and fascinated that I wasn't scared to interact with them. I reached out to my new friend, lettuce in hand, and instead of a little tickle from him trunk when he grabbed the lettuce (which I surely expected) I got quite the surprise! My tiny little hand inadvertently, or purposely who knows, went into the elephants trunk. Back out it came, slightly slimier then it entered. Not long after my dad gave me a yellow elephant stuffed animal, that I named Sabrina, and she became my fave. I still have her, although she's in need of a few surgeries to get her healthy again. That is just where it begun...

When I was 16 I traveled to Thailand on vacation and not only did I get to feed and play with the elephants but I got to ride one!! One little baby even picked me up when I was trying to get a photo with it! So fun.... want more stories?? Let's get coffee and chat!

I do have quite a few positive memories with elephants and it is part of the reason why I love them. But I also connect with them on another level. Although I am not Buddhist, I have much respect for spirituality and have a fascination with the concepts behind Buddhism. The elephant is strongly connected with Buddha and symbolizes power, wisdom, strength, protection of the home, fertility and good luck. An elephant trunk facing upward is a sign of good luck, hence the elephant in my logo! So... isn't an elephant a perfect fit for the logo of a wedding photographer??? Me, especially.

***TIP*** Scroll all the way down to see some nice little gems from my childhood. If you need a good laugh you won't want to miss them!


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Sarah Gonia Photography Logo designed with and created by Wild Hyacinth Design Studio.

Olympia Wedding Photographer
Chiang Mai, Thailand circa 1999

Chiang Mai, Thailand circa 1999




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Perfect Banana Muffins; A Baking Adventure with Toddlers

I love my kids, they are amazing, adorable, sweet and stubborn little jerks. Most days we play, color, practice writing, read and eat everything they can get their hands on but there are some days that are rough and I'm not afraid to admit that I bribe them to take a nap.  These are the days that something along the lines of "sure we can make muffins, now go to sleep" escapes my mouth when I actually meant to say "no, we are going to clean your playroom after nap - won't that be fun!" The results are delicious banana muffins (my new favorite,) one salivating dog and two toddler covered in flour and giggles.

I found a promising recipe on Pinterest (yay for it not being a Pinterest fail because I've had my fair share of those) and we started getting the ingredients in order. Out come the stools that Grumpa, my dad, made for the kids and there is bickering and pushing as they fight there way up for one of the two equally prime locations to access the counter. For Christmas they received a Pampered Chef kids baking set from their Auntie Owlie and every time we use it there is tons of excitement quickly followed by tug-o-war then drum playing and then ends with me washing all the slobber off the spatula and bowl because my spicy (thanks for that term, Magan) two year old likes to put everything in her mouth. Next, I re-wash everything because while I was washing the spatula and bowl Quin put the remaining items in her mouth. Finally, side by side they are lined up with extra clean bowls and measuring equipment and are playing the "me first, no me first game." Love that one *eye roll.* Soon they are in the swing of things and carefully measuring out somewhat close to full measuring cups and spoons and adding the ingredients to the counter....and then remeasuring and (with mom's help) adding them to the bowl. Cue giggles and the inhalation of flour as they begin a flour fight to where I'm pretty sure the spicy two year old won. Once (the majority) of all the dry ingredients were in the bowl we pulled out mommy's bowl and started in on the wet ingredients. Which would have been about 17 eggs if let them have their way. I was pretty impressed at how well they cracked the eggs as I expected to be crunching shells at some point but not a one made it in the bowl!! Shout out to our chickens for finally not freeloading after the cold spell we had earlier this year. After mixing all the ingredients we brought the bowl over to the greased muffin pans (we did a double batch and added chocolate chips to half) and I started to spoon the batter into the pans.....imagine me squished into the corner of our counter with one child trying to climb up my body to get a good view and the second pushing the other, and me, from their stool to insure that THEY get the better view. While I'm trying to keep my balance and restrain myself from flinging batter at my crazy offspring, suddenly there are tiny fingers going from bowl to mouths and all I can do is laugh since it's finally silent for the first time in almost five years... If you are a guest at my house in the next two day - I'd recommend you don't eat the muffins.....

Soon the muffins are in the oven and as I'm closing the door the silence is broken with "are they done yet?" and "Nana muffin, Mama, nana muffin!"

Needles to say it was a pretty long 15 minutes but well worth the wait when hubs and I got to enjoy a muffin...and another moment of silence since they both shoved the whole things in their mouth at once. I do have to say that the cuddles and kisses were pretty awesome afterwards, even if it's just because they wanted more muffins.

Below is the recipe that we used in case you wanted to make your own batch....I MAY have added a few ingredients and steps..... also, scroll down to see some cuteness!

Love my two crazy, energetic tots.....even when they drive me bananas....

Perfect Banana Muffins


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • (Toddler slobber - optional)
  • (One toddler sneeze- optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until dry ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix. Scoop about ¼ cup of batter each muffin tin.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.
  6. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.
  7. Hide the remainder so the rest of your family doesn't eat them.
  8. Get up at the break of dawn so you can eat said hidden muffins without little fingers stealing them all.
  9. Make your kids eggs for breakfast.

Recipe From My Mommy Style



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A Hot Chocolate Tradition

Today I'm going to talk about one of my favorite family traditions that my husband and I started with our son and then continued with our daughter- the Hot Chocolate Tradition! Overall we as a family eat pretty healthy - our kids (4, 2 and 8 months) don't drink soda or eat candy but they do get a bit of watered down juice or a piece of chocolate on special occasions.

Before you are a parent you think about main disciplinary tactics for your future child and maybe if you'll breastfeed or not but when and how you introduce sweets may not be on the pre-parent radar. When my son was a baby we made sure he ate healthy, diverse and organic meals and luckily he turned out to be a great eater and enjoys nearly all vegetables, meats and dishes we cook. Starting at about a year I kept having people try to give him candy or chocolate milk and I was a bit taken back. Isn't he too young for that "stuff??" We decided if he got a cake smash (banana bread with cream cheese frosting lol) for his first birthday then maybe we should start something special for his second birthday. My friend Julie, from my mom's group, suggest "first hot chocolate" and I thought it was a cute idea! So on my son's second birthday, poor little lad was sick, but we went out as a family and got him his first hot chocolate. Of course he didn't care for it but it was a fun and memorable outing and a good way to introduce chocolate and celebrate him turning two.

Fast forward nearly TWO years and it was our middle daughters turn to celebrate a second birthday! So on the porch we went with some warm hot chocolate and can't forget the can of whipped cream. We all drank our hot chocolate (or bottle) and giggled and filled our mouths with whipped cream. The kids loved it and it was a fun photo op for our family yearbooks. I often think back to these few moments and recollect on celebrating my children as fully entered toddler-hood and every time it makes me smile. Maybe they won't remember it, but I will...the smiles and joy that came along with such simple amenities as hot chocolate and whipped cream are such a great representation of childhood to me.

Even now, with a big four year old we haven't introduced candy and still monitor what they eat but someday the time will come when we cannot control these things...until then my kids with devour foods like cheese and peas for snacks and we will enjoy our occasional cup of hot chocolate.

Part of me wants our youngest to never grow up, she's so sweet and such a happy baby but on the other hand I look forward to our special moments like her cake smash to celebrate her first birthday and .....well she was born in May so depending on the weather some chocolate milk , haha, to celebrate her second birthday. I don't necessary look forward to my kids growing up per say, because I will miss nearly every moment of them being little, but I DO look forward to all the new traditions we sill start together and the wonderful things my kids will accomplish. Maybe some day I will sit on the porch with one of my children and a grandchild and sip hot chocolate to celebrate a second birthday....and generations of a very special tradition.

I'd love to hear about your family tradition, please share them in the comments or message me!!

...and of course our Christmas card came from this fun shoot!!

Gonia Family Christmas Card 2016



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Thank you, 2016 | Olympia Wedding + Portrait Photographer

I would like to start by saying thank you, 2016 - you were rough for many but I'd like to take a few moments to celebrate the good that you brought. I choose to focus on all the positive experiences and growth that I saw this year. Although there are many more, below are the top 10 highlights that made my heart pump pure happiness, my soul soar in the clouds and overall made me fiercely proud.

10. A few months ago I picked up blogging to increase the exposure of my business page, as it turns out blogging has become so much more to me than just a business tool. I used to write poems and journal but it has been many years since I've written anything creative and I forgot how rewarding and fulfilling it is. Going into 2017, I hope to further embrace this outlet and use it to grow both as a person and as a business.

9.  I rebranded- I took 5 months off for maternity this year and my business decreased significantly, which made me very sad but I am so grateful I was able to spend that precious time with my children. It also really made me reflect on my business, my goals, my style and overall where I wanted to go with photography. Coming back off maternity leave I decided I really needed to narrow down these things and build a business that represented me and my work. I hired a business coach, Skye Tucker, and began a journey that eventually helped me pinpoint my style, streamline my processes and make my business more efficient. BTW, Skye is AMAZING, she is kind, empathetic, real and wicked smart. If you would like to take your business to the next level -or tackle any questions you have about business- contact her. Do it, you won't regret it. Part II of my official rebrand was having a logo designed - one that represented me and my business! I chose Wild Hyacinth Design Studio to create a custom brand and I couldn't be happier!!! I had a vision of what I wanted and she NAILED it. Just look at this beautiful logo! I adore it! Thank you Skye and WHDS for helping me piece together a business I am proud of.


8. As I look back throughout my year, I reflect on every moment that I captured and I realized that one thing that makes me happy is the happiness that my images bring to others. The tears, laughter and joy that my clients feel when they see their images is a huge part of what drives me to do what I do. I care about my clients and I connect with their experiences - I think that has made me a better photographer and business owner because I go out of my way to make sure my work is at this level. While it isn't perfect, I am constantly growing and reaching to document the most meaningul and cherished moments.

7. I have found, thanks to responsible adulting -that falling into a monotonous and comfortable routine is....easy. Photography allows me to break the chains of this routine and step into a world where my visions come to life. Taking creative control to create something that I connect with balances out many of the negatives that this world has to offer. Even before I'm done editing one passion session (one I truly love and connect with) my brain is already planning the next. I am SO thankful for the creative outlet that photography provides me. To my children, Teagan, Quinlynn, Avalyn, and all you reading this - please, explore all options to find a creative outlet that you connect with. Don't wait and don't be scared, the reward you get will feed your soul.

6. As a photographer, I find it very important to have friends in the industry -to chat with, work through issues, learn from and explore creative adventures with. I made a few friends this year who I value beyond measure - Samantha Ek, Pamela Obenchain, Marcus Annable, Tammy Dalquist, Anne Snider, Joe Chirilov, Skye Tucker and Markie Jones. I'm also grateful to my old failthfuls - Gina Winterstein, Monica Willequer, Jennifer Lolmaugh, Jarob Oriz, Nicole York, Marilyn Quisenberry, Peggie Ireland and Constance Kronlund. Thank you for enriching this year, and photography in general, for me. Community over competition - we lift each other up and support each other through and through. My.Heart.Is.Happy.

5. My number six appropriately leads me into my number five -professional growth. This year I put in countless hours into my education. I took several big classes, read every article I could find, spent hundreds of hours practicing and refining my skills and along with all that I learned from my photography buds, I grew substantially this year. Leaps and bounds! Guided by passion and a will to constantly learn and  improve - 2017 will be even better yet!

4. One of my greatest accomplishments of 2016 is finding my passion within photography - the type of images that speak to me. I discovered my love for capturing raw emotion- the authentic human connection. In every photo, I strive to document happiness, love and joy without a single word spoken. Moving into 2017 I take my newly defined passion with me and I will let it guide me for it is my North Star, my compass -my calling.

3. My lucky number three is -YOU! That's right, you. My loyal and supportive friends, family and clients. None of this would be possible without you, period. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for your continued support. Thank you for believing in me. I am grateful and happy to have you all in my lives. Special shout out to my hubs of course. Thanks for letting me follow my passion, Kyle.

2. Taking it personal now, for the most memorable moments of 2016 involve the loves of my life. Teagan James - you are stubborn and strong, sweet and energetic, empathetic and kind. Your blue eyes sparkle at any thought of adventure and your sense of humor is such a big, and amazing, part of who you are. Keep on this path and live fully and exceptionally. Quinlynn Grace, my strong and fierce girl. You challenge me every moment you are awake, yet I am grateful that you are so strong in character. Some day, when you are grown that trait will be invaluable and will keep you on your chosen path. Although I will always worry about you, as my baby girl, I can already see your inner strength and that you were born to lead, not follow. Go forth into this life with strength, grace and kindness. Use this trait and your heart to love and protect others. You, someday my tiny girl, will change the world.

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1. In May, my life changed forever - we welcomed our third and final tiny addition to our family. Avalyn Marie, you are the epitome of happiness. Your smile is contagious and you inspire me to not only be a better mom but a better person. Every single day I am thankful for the ear to ear grin on your face and even when I am at my lowest, you lift my spirits and make it all worth while. In these last 7 months you have taught me to greet every experience, good or bad, with a smile. Thank you, my sweet love, I look forward to more sloppy kisses, gummy smiles, endless giggles and watching your personality emerge as you grow up. You are a kind soul, Avalyn Marie- I need you, this world NEEDS you.

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Although 2016 brought many deaths, tragedies and negativity - I encourage you to join me in celebrating all that makes this life beautiful and memorable. I am not only inspired by my children, I am inspired by YOU and the magical moments that make your life worth living. Please take a moment to scroll down to the comments section and tell me what you are most grateful for. Inspire others with your positive thoughts and experiences!

My new years resolution is to document the little moments that make your heart soar. I vow to go beyond traditional posed photography and capture the true you and everything you are feeling in that second. For in the end, the little moments of joy, laughter, connection with those who you love and raw authentic emotion are a huge part of what makes us up as people. These are the moments that describe our souls without a single word; these are the moments truly worth documenting. Together lets make 2017 a year full of smiles, love, friendship, success and pure joy.



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Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful

Teagan Turns Four

Dear Teagan,

Wasn't I just pregnant with you, my tiny boy? Wasn't I just feeling your daily hiccups and waiting anxiously for every (not so) tiny kick? Seems like hardly any time at all has passed since I was (im)patiently awaiting to hold you and kiss you and snuggle you. Four years. HOW has it been that long?? I think back about all our moments we've had, the funny things you've done, the hilarious things you've said and it makes me sad because I miss your chipmunk cheeks and the Grand Canyon sized rolls in your thighs that swallowed pants, fuzz, food and whatever else was unlucky enough to come near those things. BUT, every day is a new adventure with you and as much as I miss all times we had together I also look forward to all the new things coming, all the new funny things you'll do and all the new hilarious things you'll say. I very much look forward to watching you grow up and I hope that you never lose your sense of humor or desire for adventure. I love you, (not so) tiny boy. I love you today more than I did yesterday but not as much as tomorrow. I will always love you, unconditionally and with all that I am. So, keep growing up - not too fast though - and always remember to be kind, love those around you and always be true to yourself.





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Avalyn Gets her food on!

So...this happened tonight!!!!

My four month old baby girl ate her first solid food, carrots. Although she was slightly unsure of what to think she was as happy as a clam! Stop growing up so fast, sweet babe...

Parents, snuggle your kids as much as you can - they grow up way too fast!



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Contact me today and lets document all those little moments that make life beautiful