Portrait Resource

Preparing For Your Engagement (Couples) Session | Olympia Wedding Photographer

Congratulations on your engagement! This is a special time in your life and should be documented. So, before you get too far into wedding planning, take a few moments to start planning your engagement session. Engagement photos are a great way to announce your big news, plus they will be some of your top viewed photos of the year! They deserve a little planning but the fun we’ll have and the amazing photos you’ll get are totally worth it! These will be images you’ll treasure forever. Plus it also gives you a chance to work with us prior to your wedding day so you can get a feel of how we work and it takes a lot of unnecessary stress out of the wedding shots!

Below let’s talk about some of the things you’ll need to consider while planning your engagement session but remember the most important advice is that this should be fun and relaxed! It’s not worth stressing over, save that for the wedding deets!


  1. Wardrobe

  • Pick out two or three outfits for your session, this will give you some variety in your photos. If you are having a hard time choosing you can always bring an extra outfit or two or get our input on what would photograph the best.

  • Choose soft, muted, neutral colors like whites, browns, sage green, grey, blush or black. Avoid neon colors, crazy or tight patterns or lots of competing colors because they will draw attention away from you and your love. You two are the focus of the photos and we want to avoid competition and instead focus on the intimate and fun moments between you.

  • Select clothing that is comfortable, if you aren’t comfortable then it will show in the photos. That being said, avoid clothes that are too tight and may show underwear lines or unwanted bulges. On the other end of the spectrum, avoid clothes that are baggy or over-sized. They can make you look boxy and add bulk to your shape. Finding proper fitting clothes that you are comfortable in and fit your body style is essential!

  • Consider buying a dress or skirt for your session. You’ll look and feel great in your new outfit and a hand selected dress to match the location you choose can’t be beat. Long flowing skirts photograph well and are really fun in action-based shots!

  • Coordinate—but don’t match. Think coordinating color palettes, but not matchy/matchy. Too much contrast (i.e. you in white, him in black) can overwhelm a picture or be cheesy. Also avoid both wearing patterns as they again may draw viewers eyes away from your moments.

2. Look your best!

  • These photos will be family heirlooms. They’ll be sent off on save-the dates, parents and grandparents will display them and eventually children and grandchildren will look back at them. It’s important to look and feel your best! Although many women are comfortable doing their makeup I suggest hiring a professional to do your hair and makeup because they know how makeup photographs so they can contour to bring out your best features. They also can put together the perfect palette to match your selected outfits and location.

  • Utilize your hair and makeup trials with your wedding vendors. This is a great way to get the most out of those trials and not pay for additional services. Need hair and makeup artists? Check out our Sound South Wedding Vendor Guide.

  • Get your ring cleaned, let that thing sparkle!

See more of Krissy + Mitch’s Lake Cushman Adventure Session - Coming Soon

See more of Krissy + Mitch’s Lake Cushman Adventure Session - Coming Soon

3. Where should we have our photos taken?

  • Are you at home in the city? Adventurers?? Are you drawn to the mountain or water? Is there a location that is significant to you and your fiance? Ask yourself these questions and it will help you find an engagement session location. You two will be the main focus of the photos but having a serene or special backdrop makes for fabulous photos and epic memories from that day.

  • Looking for areas nearby the Olympia area? Look HERE for some idea.

  • Seeking wind in your hair and adventure to feed your soul? Say no more, I’m already sold. For ideas on adventurous locations click HERE.

See more of Emily + Mario’s Gold Creek Pond Engagement Session - Coming Soon

See more of Emily + Mario’s Gold Creek Pond Engagement Session - Coming Soon

5. What time should we plan on begin taking our photos?

  • About 2 hours before sunset is the best time since the light is prettiest. So, for example, if sunset is at 7\8:30pm, we'll usually plan to start around 6:30pm.

  • Two hours or so after sunrise is also a good option for certain locations. The morning light is cool and pretty, there are less people out and about and depending on the season there is a good chance of some pretty fog!

See more of Silu + Aristotle’s Seattle Engagement Session - Coming Soon

See more of Silu + Aristotle’s Seattle Engagement Session - Coming Soon

6. Creativity + trusting your photographer

  • We are very experienced in posing couples and will use our creativity to bring out the best in you! Chat with us before the session and let us know if there are any specific poses that interest you, otherwise sit back, have fun and trust us to capture all the special moments.

See more of Naya + Betka’s downtown Seattle Couples Session - Coming Soon

7. Keep the mood light.

  • Relax! If you are uncomfortable it will show in the photos! Relax and BREATHE!

  • Have fun! Above all, this is the most important. This is an exciting time for you as a couple and we want to capture your personalities and the love that you share.

8. Can we bring pets?

  • Of course! Bring your fur babies and we’ll grab some photos of you and them. I do recommend bringing a friend to help with them while we are shooting the photos without them though. If that isn’t an option bring a long leash so we can tie them to a tree while we are shooting.

See more of Krissy, Mitch + Lily’s Lake Cushman adventure sesion - Coming Soon

See more of Krissy, Mitch + Lily’s Lake Cushman adventure sesion - Coming Soon

9. Think props

  • Is there something special that has lots of significance in your relationship? It could be a blanket, a piece of jewelry, a vintage car or a motorcycle. The more unique to your relationship, the better! Look HERE for more prop ideas.

  • If you choose to bring props, limit it to two or three. We want your awesome props to enhance the photos and add personality, but not take away attention from you two.

10. Be on time

  • This is REALLY important! What you may not realize is that photographers are 100% dependent on the sun and specifically plan their sessions for the most flattering and beautiful light. If you show up late you will lose time off your session due to lack of light

  • . There are always things that happen that are out of our control, like traffic and accidents but by planning your route and a backup route ahead of time and leaving early you can minimize the risk of showing up late and losing camera time.

  • Being late is stressful and we want you happy and relaxed!



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

Adventure Portrait Sessions: What They Are and Why You NEED One! | Olympia Wedding Photographer

What is an adventure portrait Session?

An adventure portrait session is a great way to capture images of you and your babe while exploring the great Pacific Northwest. An adventure session throws traditional portrait locations to the wind in exchange for ones that are a bit more wild, natural and epic. They tend to be way more fun… and maybe a bit muddier!

Who is an adventure portrait session for?

Nature lovers, free-spirits and the adventurous at heart. If a bit of a drive or a hike doesn’t scare you then an adventure portrait session is for you! While adventure session are perfect for lovers and elopements, they are also great for senior sessions, bridal sessions and boudoir. So hike up your skirt and let’s go!

How much does an adventure session cost?

Price depends on the location you select as well as time needed for the adventure, see pricing HERE.

Things to consider when planning an adventure portrait session.

  • Time - How long will it take to drive to your desired location? If there is a hike, how long will it take?

  • Location - What sort of background appeals to you? Woods, mountains, water? All of them?? Maybe there is a place that has special memories for you?

  • When to schedule - This depends on your location…. places like Mt. Rainier close when there is snow but others like Gold Creek Pond are amazing in the winter! Also consider fall as a great time to book due to the auburn foliage, it’s pretty magical! Winter session can be foggy, snowy and majestic but there is a higher chance of rain…be prepared to shoot in the rain or reschedule.

  • Clothing - Select two or three outfits that don’t clash with the scenery. After all the view is why we are there! Think simple patterns, solid colors and fun hats. Bring or wear sensible shoes. Bring towels and a change of clothes in case you get wet.

  • Props - Best to keep it basic out in the wilderness but a cute little picnic, a bottle of champagne or a cozy blanket can all be great additions to your session.

  • Snacks- Exploring is hard work and we may build up an appetite! Bring plenty of food and water for our adventure.

Where are some great locations to do an adventure portrait session?

The possibilities are endless!

Below are just a few localish locations for an adventure portrait session. If you have another idea I'd love to go explore with you! I'm open to non-local adventure too, message me and let's start exploring!

Ask about session discounts on my bucket list/favorite locations!

  • Ruby Beach

  • Rattlesnake Ledge

  • Cannon Beach

  • Leavenworth

Mt. Rainier

See more of Mt. Rainier

Lake Cushman

See More Lake Cushman

Rattlesnake Lake

See more of Rattlesnake Lake

Franklin Falls

See more of Franklin Falls

Gold Creek Pond

Deception Pass

See more of Deception Pass

Cannon Beach

See more of Cannon Beach

Manchester State Park

See more of Manchester State Park


See more of Vantage, WA

Group Senior Shoot

For portrait location ideas closer to Olympia check out 10 Great Portrait Locations Near Olympia



Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

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

South Sound Wedding Resource Guide - Preferred Vendor List

As a Pacific Northwest Wedding Photographer I get to work with wedding vendors from all over the sound sound. I enjoy meeting all these people and watching them unite and use their skills to make wedding day's come together in the most special and amazing ways. Below are some of the vendors that I have had the pleasure of getting to know during weddings that I've photographed, each did an exceptional job or had something amazing to offer. Please keep in mind that many of the below vendors are wiling to travel..the others may be worth the drive!

There are many other wonderful wedding vendors in the area and I recommend choosing ones that match your style, budget and location. If you do not see one that works for you below but would still like help find vendors please feel free to contact me and I will gladly help you find vendors to meet your needs.

A big part of who I am, and my business principals, is supporting small businesses. If this is important to you as well please let me know and I can assist you in finding small but amazing vendors!


Scarlet Nantes

Seattle/Kirkland, WA - Creative and delicious, a treat for both the eyes and taste buds. Scarlet Nantes specializes in Cake, Macron's and Meringue that will compell you to sneak back in line for seconds and thirds.

Beautiful cake by Sugar Rush Cupcakes

Sugar Rush Cupcakes

  • Tacoma, WA - Delightfully tasty! I was impressed with the unique flavors and their cakes and cupcakes are beautifully decorated! YUM!

Wagner's Bakery

  • Olympia, WA - I'm hungry just typing about Wagner's Bakery..... I love them! My wedding cake came from here. They are a bit spendy but worth the extra dough...get it....ha. Ok, fine - back to my review :) Wagner's not only makes spectacular, and delicious wedding cakes but also a variety of other desserts to impress your guests. Get a yummy wedding cake AND think outside the (wedding cake) box and stock your dessert table with a variety of top notch desserts.

Delicately Sweet Confections

  • Seattle, WA - Super beautiful, elegant and uniquely styled cakes but BEWARE they taste just as good as they look, which I didn't think was possible!


RibEye Ramblin Jacks

  • Napavine, WA - Not only is the food amazing but the staff is even more amazing. One of the weddings at the venue started to leak during the wedding and water spilled into the reception area as guests were eating. Rambling Jacks staff, without blinking an eye went above and beyond their catering duties and cleaned up the mess. I was SO impressed with their dedication, service and pleasant attitudes.


Custom handwritten invitations and Calligraphy by Ink + Sable

Custom handwritten invitations and Calligraphy by Ink + Sable

Ink + Sable

  • Seattle, WA - Add a custom touch to you invites, place cards, menus or thank you notes with some elegant calligraphy from Ink + Sable. See Invitations for more info.

Day of Coordinator/ Wedding Planner

My Perfect Wedding Assistant

  • Seattle, WA - Organized, prepared and relaxed, Mama Ernestine, Roz and their staff were ON TOP OF IT! Every detail was executed flawlessly and on time. To top it off they were very pleasant and excellent at interacting with the wedding party, guests and vendors. This team brings a professional yet fun touch to weddings and are an excellent choice for wedding planning and day of coordination. Be prepared to smile, laugh and have fun with these ladies!


DJ Pooji

  • Olympia, WA - Pooji is a very experienced wedding DJ and has a fun and lively style. Hate the silence when music cuts out in between songs? Me too! Don't need to worry about that happening with DJ Pooji, he is on top of it and so easy to work with. A five star rating is well earned by DJ Pooji!

Decorations/Gifts (Custom)

Lee Six Laser & Design

  • Olympia, WA - Lee Six Laser & Design does custom engraving on a variety of gifts and decorations. They are innovative, creative and some of the sweetest people around. If you are looking for custom decorations for wedding or gift for your bridal party, fiance or family then CHECK THEM OUT!!

Ring box by Lee Six Laser & Design

Ring box by Lee Six Laser & Design

Skinfully Simple

Olympia, WA - Stock up on amazing and natural skin product for your bridesmaids gifts, wedding favors or Emergency Wedding Kit! Skinfully simple is ran by two local mama's and their products leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed. From sugar scrub to chapstick and more, check out their site for a full product listing.


New Beginnings Bridal Studio

  • Puyallup, WA - New Beginning Bridal Salon boasts a variety of unique and STUNNING wedding dresses with a wide variety of sizes, styles and prices. Don't "Say yes to the dress" without stopping in here first!!

Adorned in Grace

  • Tacoma, WA - Adorned in Grace is such a unique vendor because they have a mission to end human trafficking. Find a beautiful dress and help a good cause. If you'd like to donate a dress email Chris at chris@adornedingrace.org.

Gorgeous wedding dress by New Beginnings Bridal Studio

Fireworks and Sparklers

Boomtown Fireworks, LLC

  • Seabeck, WA - Great vendor for all your 1.4 firecrackers and Sparklers. They are unable to ship.

Halo Fireworks

  • Seabeck, WA- If you want an amazing firework show at your event then check them out. Cory is the main "Pyro" and is an expert in putting on an amazing, and safe, firework display.


A Moment in Time Floral Design

  • Yelm, WA - Heidi, of A Moment in Time Floral Design, is sweet and innovative. She is easy to work with and does not fail to deliver epic and creative wedding florals.

Elopement published in Bellissima Bridal Magazine Issue No. 30  Bouquet by A Moment in Time Floral Design, HMUA by Bethany Yackel Beauty

Elopement published in Bellissima Bridal Magazine Issue No. 30

Bouquet by A Moment in Time Floral Design, HMUA by Bethany Yackel Beauty

Blooma Flora

  • Yelm, WA - Blooma Flora is a small local business, which I love to support! On top of that they have an extraordinary eye when it comes to putting together floral arrangement. Check them out!.

Busara Flora

  • Bellevue, WA - Simply stunning! From classy to unique to big and bold Busara Flora with nail your dream bridal bouquet and take your breathe away.

Floral Noir

Bouquet and floral crown by Floral Noir

Bouquet and floral crown by Floral Noir

  • Redmond, WA- Shannon Hagen of Floral Noir is my go-to florist. Her bouquets are unique and stunning - she has a knack for putting together just the right colors and textures to make magic. Call her, you won't regret it - she is absolutely wonderful!

JNJ Floral

  • Enumclaw, WA - Jessica of JNJ floral is such a sweet and talented florist. She is easy to work with and has a lovely, near whimsical floral vision that is perfect for special ocassions.

Hair + Make-up

Allison Peck

Make-up by Allison Peck

Make-up by Allison Peck

  • Lacey, WA - Allison is based in Lacey but travels throughout Lewis, Pierce, Thurston and King Counties. She is not only an experienced MUA, she is also furthering her education by going to school to obtain a Master Esthetician License. Go Allison!! If you love bold and beautiful makeup, Allison is your girl!

A Prima Salon

  • Gig Harbor, WA - Christine Carbone of A Prima Salon is a very talented and experienced Make-up Artist. She has a history of working with big names and once you see her work you'll know why!!

A Second Look - Makeup by Amanda

  • Tacoma, WA - Amanda is through and very detail orientated. Her work is beautiful and flawless!

BeautyBy: Alisa Clark

  • Tacoma, WA - Alisa is professional and easy to work with. So convenient to have on site hair and make-up!

Bethany Yackel Beauty

  • Lynnwood, WA - Bethany does an amazing job and is super sweet and easy to work with. She strives to give each bride a custom and gorgeous look that enhances their features and brings out their natural beauty.

Bridal Make-up by Bethany Yackel Beauty

Bridal Make-up by Bethany Yackel Beauty

Bridal Esthetics By Katie

  • Bellevue, WA - Katie Horton of Bridal Esthetics By Katie is a great option if you are near Bellevue. Look her up!

Fusion Salon

  • Lakewood, WA -Brook Ferber has an eye for for simple yet stunning looks.

Glam to Go

Nicole + Stephanie of Glam to Go working their magic

  • Napavine, WA but they travel! - This gorgeous duo is a one stop shop for you beauty needs. Nicole is an expert at bringing out your best features with the application of make-up and Stephanie is a ninja at taming even the most unruly of locks. Both women are experienced and very easy to work with. You will be looking your very best and happily entertained when working with these two! They also come to you on your wedding day, can't get easier than that!!

Seattle Bride Hair

  • Seattle, WA - Dawn of Seattle Bride Hair does an amazing job on hair AND make-up! She travels not only over Western Washington but to any destination!! She is very popular in the area so book early!

Ronny Marcella

  • Auburn, WA - Ronny is fun, sweet and really easy to work with. She did a great job and I highly recommend her!

Urbanista Wedding

  • Seattle, WA - Simple and elegant. Urbanista wedding does and amazing job at providing custom and stunning bridal looks.

Yoana Lizabeth Clark

  • Seattle, WA - Yoana is super sweet and does amazing work.

Invitations (and other paper product)

Ink + Sable

  • Seattle, WA - Custom, hand written menus, invitations and other wedding paper products. Ink + Sable specializes in some super elegant calligraphy.


  • Olympia, WA - Tina is the owner and designer of Sandpaper and such a pleasure to work with. She was great at communicating ideas and executed our vision perfectly. We ordered invitations, menus, monogrammed programs, a custom sign, table numbers and name tags and they brought all the decorations and venue together so well! Tina is super flexible and does a huge variety of paper products. Check her out!

Invitations, Menus and Place Cards by Sandpaper

Invitations, Menus and Place Cards by Sandpaper

Limo Service

Access Limos

  • Tacoma, WA + the entire Sound Sound Area through Seattle - I've worked with Paris since 2008 and have never been disappointed. They are a small local company therefore customer service is their top priority, not to mention he's the most prompt person I've met! If you want to feel like royalty and not stress about driving or getting to your destination on time then Access Limos is just the business for you.


Balancing Balloons

  • Seattle, WA - Creative, unique and innovative. Give your wedding an extra special touch with rentals from Balancing Balloons.

Puget Sound Farm Tables

  • Bonney Lake, WA - The days of matching table linens are OUT!! No need to worry about them when you can rent BEAUTIFUL, sturdy, hand built farm tables! Once you see how amazing these are you'll say goodbye to tablecloths for sure - plus hey, that's one less expense! Here's where it gets even MORE exciting... they have more than just fab tables.... they also have decorations, goblets, vintage dishes, cake stands, serving utensils and more....I can't even list it all. A unique twist about them is they also have tables specifically for dessert, hand made beer bars aaaaaaaaaaaaaand s'mores bars!!! Maybe it's just me but no wedding is complete without s'mores, amiright?! Clint and Ashley are so easy to work with and they have so many awesome rentals, check them out!! Did I mention they have a calligrapher..... can you say one stop shop!


Albee's Garden Parties

  • Olympia, WA - Albee's Garden Parties is an absolute hidden treasure! A bride, and a photographers DREAM! Beautiful fields, tree coverage, a charming indoor area, an orchard, full kitchen and cute little greenhouse area are just a few of the amenities available. The layout is amazing, landscaping is impeccable and unique and the details are rustic and lovely. Five stars for sure!

Ballard Bay Club

Beecher Hill House

Center of Urban Horticulture

  • Seattle, WA - A little paradise in the city. With lush gardens, a variety of unique and beautiful plants, a stunning greenhouse and multiple ceremony locations this venue is definitely one of my favorites!

  • See Serena + Javier’s wedding - Coming Soon

  • See Amanda + Craig’s wedding - Coming Soon

Country N Lace

  • Toledo, WA - I don't even know where to start on this stunning venue! There are multiple location including a country house, woods and barn to choose for your ceremony - all are amazing. There are fields of horses and a row of beautiful sunflowers. Michelle + Luke, the owners are seriously amazing and Michelle has some serious wedding planning skills! She guides the day's events and keeps everything on track and makes it look effortless! One of the best things about this venue is the decorations.... Michelle has a stock pile of vintage and handmade decorations to choose from that will surely meet your needs. My first wedding here I wanted to spend all day photographing the decorations because they are so fantastic! There is even a photo booth area with props! Every detail has been thought out and mastered at Country N Lace. If you want easy and beautiful then Country N Lace could be for you!

Evergreen Valley Lavender Farm

  • Olympia, WA - Yes they do wedding .... walking down the aisle surrounded in vibrant purple flowers is unique and a huge win!! Make sure you book early though the flowers are in bloom mid June through mid August.

Hall @ Fauntleroy

  • Seattle, WA -

  • See Amy + Jimmy’s Hall at Fauntleroy wedding

Port Gamble Weddings & Events

  • Port Gamble, WA- Port Gamble is a quaint little town with an old fashion charm. It sits right on the water and offers a good variety for wedding images and cute town for your wedding guests to explore. The church, the reception pavilion and the little downtown businesses are all in walking distance.

  • See Danny + Marco’s weddings at Port Gamble Weddings & Events.

Rein fire Ranch

  • Ravensdale, WA - This venue has it all. Beautiful barns, grassy fields, horses.... and more! Rich and his staff are well organized and easy to work with.

  • See Tayla + Danny’s weddings at Rein Fire Ranch

Salish Lodge & Spa

  • Snoqualmie, WA - Well there is a waterfall….enough said. This venue is a popular tourist destination so it can be fairly crowded in the public spaces but the terrace is beautiful and who wouldn’t want to get married with a view of a stunning waterfall. Bride and groom photos at the base of the waterfall also makes this venue a good choice!

Stocker Farms

  • Snohomish, WA - A big red barn, vintage farm equipment and some beautiful fields. The outdoor ceremony location is beautiful and they have outdoor covered seating too. There are also games and a huge trampoline to keep your guests entertained.

Tacoma Courthouse / Courthouse Square

  • Tacoma, WA - A beautiful and decent sized room with good lighting. It is elegant and vintage. There is a separate room for the bride to get ready and a kitchen space for the caterers. The halls and steps of the courthouse are great for photos and being downtown Tacoma is convenient for some beautiful urban portraits. The 11th st bridge is in walking distance!!

The Golf Club at Newcastle

  • Newcastle, WA - This venue is not only beautiful and elegant but it is huge so it can accommodate even large weddings. Don't forget to step out on their balcony and take in the breathtaking scenery.

Thornwood Castle

  • Tacoma, WA - Get married in a real castle? ABSOLUTELY! The garden area at this venue is absolutely stunning and a perfect location for a ceremony or wedding portraits. There is also a dock that has killer sunsets and a beautiful view! Inside the castle is very remarkable as well. The inside is laden with dark wood that is carved with awe-inspiring details. Upstairs there are rooms to spend the night, as well as get ready for your big day. Each room has so much character and make for beautiful getting ready pictures. There is also a large balcony perfect for a memorable bouquet toss! The stairs going down to the ceremony location are truly luxurious and make for a fairy tale entrance for the bride. There is a large room for the ceremony that also doubles as a dance floor and in the back there is a perfect area for the reception including a covered patio. This venue has it all and if you're looking for a unique location full of character to tell the story of your love then look no further.

Titlow Lodge

Woodland Park Zoo


Griffin Studios

  • Check out Brooke Griffin's fun and amazing style!



Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

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

10 Tips to Prepare for Your Maternity Portrait Session

  1. Plan your session well in advance. We recommend that you have your maternity photos taken between 27 an 34 weeks. Every woman, and every pregnancy is different, but ideally you want your belly to be distinctly showing yet you don't want to be so far along that your are uncomfortable and miserable. Between the 27th and 34th week most women have a distinguishable, and beautifully round belly but haven't started to experience the swelling and weight gain that is typical of the end of pregnancy. Keep an eye on your body and if you are showing early (are you having multiples?!?) then we can definitely discuss scheduling your session sooner.

  2. Plan your session on a day you won't have to rush. Your maternity session will take between one and two hours depending on the package you have chosen and if you have an event to get to right after you will be checking the time over and over and not having fun. Maternity sessions capture such a magical time in a woman's life and the experience should be fun and relaxing. My specialty is capturing those candid moments where you are relaxed and wearing your true emotions, if you are rushed with other events on your mind then it will show.

  3. Bring your loved ones! Your significant other, older siblings and even the grandma to be are all great additions to these memories. Not only will they help you relax and enjoy your session but the photos will be extra special and a great memory for you, them and your child.

  4. Mentally prepare for your session. You may be in a tight fitting dress or a dress where your belly is exposed and many pregnant women feel self-conscious about their changing bodies. Change of shape, swelling or extra weight and stretch marks are all normal parts of pregnancy and deserve to be documented! Love your body and own it - it is working hard to create and house a tiny life so it deserves to be celebrated. If you are uncomfortable it will show in your images, just relax and try to remember that not only is this a special time that needs to be documented but that it will eventually pass and believe it or not you may miss it.....

  5. Tight clothing can leave marks on your belly so skip them for a few hours before your session.

  6. Wear Comfortable Clothes that show off your belly. After all that is why you're having your photos taken!

  7. Bring nude underwear! I know this sounds weird but we have a closet full of maternity dresses available to our clients and if you decide there is one you love you'll need those nude underwear.

  8. Bring some props, one or two special items to customize your maternity session and document those special items for your baby's baby book.

  9. Show up well rested and hydrated. I know, I know .. easy for the non-pregnant woman to say and after three pregnancies I know how hard it is to get sleep but try your best to get some extra rest before you shoot. Pregnant women have a beautiful glow to their skin and adequate sleep and staying hydrated will ensure you and your skin look amazing!!!

  10. Lotion! Speaking of skin...dry scaly skin is a NORMAL side effect of pregnancy. Slather up before your session to add to that glow we discussed.

Bonus Tip: RELAX!!! Relax and have fun. Pregnancy is such a special time in life and creating positive memories during it will enhance your experience. Relax.... and let's do this, let's create something epic that you can't wait to hang on your wall!

Rattlesnake Lake Maternity | North Bend Maternity Photographer

YES! Maternity boudoir and milk baths are an option! Book a traditional session, book a boudoir session or ask about the special for booking both together!



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

SLOW FLOWERS: A Conscious Choice

Today's blog comes straight from the floral industry. Brides and grooms, gardeners, vendors, florists and conscientious consumers, this is for YOU.

Debra Prinzing, award winning author, speaker and founder of slowflowers.com.   PC: Mary Grace Long Photography

Debra Prinzing, award winning author, speaker and founder of slowflowers.com.

PC: Mary Grace Long Photography

The Slow Flowers Movement was born when flower consumers started questioning the origin of their flowers. Debra Prinzing is the founder - and heart - behind the Slow Flowers Movement which supports the idea of using local, American-grown flowers. She gave the Slow Flowers concept life with the creation of an online directory of florists and flower growers who support the cause: slowflowers.com. Prinzing initiated American Flowers Week to create awareness about Slow Flowers and bring to light the many reasons why flower consumers should buy local.

The Slow Flowers path was paved by the Slow Food movement. Somewhere along the way America went from a nation relying on local crops as a main food source for it's people to importing the same foods from areas of cheap labor and lesser health standards. Flowers also joined that list and America currently imports billions of dollars of international flowers each year. The undertow of the Slow Flowers Movement is really about making a conscious choice about one's purchases. Flowers are a necessity for many events and choosing to support locally allows one to know and better appreciate the origin of their products, support the small business owners in their area and better honor the season and region where they live with flowers that are local and timely.

Prinzing is the proactive and dedicated voice that has brought to light this conspicuous but previously unspoken subject.  Prinzing has a degree in design and a long history of gardening. For many years she has worked as a journalist, writing articles and speaking about gardening, architecture and floral design. With the birth of Slow Flowers and slowflowers.com, Prinzing was able to combine all of her vast experiences to not only start a revolution of flower consciousness but also find her niche. Some of Prinzing's accomplishments are as contributing writer and editor of Country Garden's Magazine, recipient of the first annual Grower's Choice Award and author of ten books. For more information on Prinzing, please see her 'About' page. Prinzing also does a weekly Podcast 'SLOW FLOWERS with Debra Prinzing' which is very informative. For more information, click HERE.

This year, June 28-July 4th, will be the 3rd annual American Flowers Week; a celebration of the Slow Flowers Movement. These dates are appropriate because as we celebrate the freedom of our country, we celebrate the return of home grown flowers and support for local businesses. Modeled after England's British Flowers Week, American Flowers Week was designed to bring awareness to any and all flower consumers.

The concept of Slow Flowers, although fairly new, is spreading at a rate that is anything but a reflection of it's name. Seed companies, flower growers, florists, wedding couples and even super markets are getting on board and making a mindful choice to keep the flower market local. Prinzing's passion and dedication to the Slow Flowers Movement is monumental in bringing change to the flower industry. Her yearning for mindfulness, and dedication to informing consumers, will ensure that the popularity of American-grown flowers will continue to rise. Events like American Flowers Week are also critical to educating consumers and raising excitement regarding the Slow Flowers Movement. Slow Flowers has already created a huge impact on the flower industry over the past few years. As consumers become more aware, the momentum of this movement will undoubtedly and thankfully be unstoppable - a guiding light for all other Slow Movements to come.

Special thanks to Debra Prinzing for granting me an interview and for being so excited and passionate about such a worthy subject.







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10 Great Portrait Locations Near Olympia

  • Percival Landing, Olympia - If you like Urban Portraits then downtown Olympia is a great option for you. We can walk along the water at Percival Landing and capture images with the soft neutrals of the Sound. On the way back we can cut through downtown Olympia to catch some funky, colorful and fun portraits. From brightly colored doors, cool architecture, beautiful murals and the boardwalk with the Sound behind it, Olympia is a very nice location to have your portraits taken! There is even a fun farmers market to shoot, a tower, docks, a playground, a neat bridge and so much more! I also love downtown Olympia for all it's little coffee shops and restaurants! A couples session in a coffee shop is just plain adorable and fun! Some free parking near the Olympia Farmers Market, street parking and most lots are paid.

  • The Capitol Building, Olympia - Not far from Percival landing is the regal and structurally impressive Capitol building. From elegant stairs, giant pillar, beautiful fences, massive intricate doors and a rose garden there is lots of great variety at the Capitol Building. Can you guess the best perk about the Capitol building? If you were going to say easy parking (in the evenings) or the great view of the lake you were close but those aren't the best! The best perk of shooting your portraits at the Capitol building is it's located within walking distance of one of my favorite bakeries! Wagner's European Bakery & Cafe has an excellent selection of baked good and they make stunning wedding cakes (they made mine!) Parking is fairly easy to find and is only free during the evening and weekends.

  • Pioneer Park, Tumwater - Pioneer Park is beautiful and big enough so you don't have to wait for other people to clear the area for your shots! As a Pacific Northwest Portrait Photographer a variety of rich green backgrounds, cool grey paths/ground, fields of tall flowers and quite a few interesting logs to sit on is the 'cat's meow' of variety for little local parks and Pioneer Park has it all. I also love this location because it has a little patch of foliage that provides coverage if it starts to sprinkle! We all know how important that is in Washington state! Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter - this location provides interesting backgrounds which makes it a great choice all year round. There is plenty of parking at this location, although during the summer when there are sports it can be pretty packed. No Parking Fees.

  • Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, Lacey - Nisqually Wildlife Refuge is a bit of a walk but worth it for some beautiful images! There are wooden walkways, two old white barns, fields of tall grass and a fun long pathway that creates beautiful leading lines for your images. As a bonus, you can't walk through without seeing wildlife. We frequently see frogs, deer and a variety of birds (depending on the season) during our sessions at NWR. Please note that there is a small entrance fee for this location, there is a drop box for payment at the main building and is done on the honor system.

  • Tolmie State Park, Lacey - Tolmie State Park is a fun little beachy location that can yield some stunning photos! It has an amazing bridge, lots of trails with rich green backgrounds and an amazing beach that works well for both posed and candid portraits. Please note that a Discover Pass is needed to park at this location. During limited summer hours you can purchase on site but to be safe I'd recommend purchasing one ahead of time.

  • Ft. Steilacoom, Lakewood - Ft Steilacoom Park may be my favorite local park to shoot in. Barns, dark green foliage, a lake, grassy fields, mossy woods, a long path, flowers in the spring, old ruins, an apple orchard.... Ft. Steilacoom has it ALL. On clear days there is even a view of Mt. Rainier! This location has plenty of parking and it's free! YAY!

  • Museum of Glass, Tacoma - Downtown Tacoma, near the Glass Museum is an urban portrait photographer's dream! It is possibly even my favorite location for urban portraits! The bridge to the Museum of Glass has visually pleasing art and some beautiful clean and neutral buildings behind it. There is a great selection of art, including a fountain, that makes for some interesting and unique portraits. One of my favorite locations to shoot there is an old brick apartment building with metal stairs. It can be really fun and diversify your session. I also love shooting portraits in downtown Tacoma near the Museum of Glass because it is within walking distance of so many great locations. The Spanish Steps, Fireman's Park, Opera Alley and all the funky downtown businesses and garage doors are a few examples. It is also a two minute car ride from the 11th Street bridge which is an AMAZING location to make you stand out, yet still have an interesting background in your portraits (for safety reasons we will need a spotter for this location so please let me know ahead of time if you are interested in shooting at the 11th Street bridge). Parking is hit or miss...mostly paid parking.

  • Pt. Defiance Park + Rose Garden, Tacoma - Pt. Defiance Park is a top spot for summer portraits due to the colorful and fun rose garden. There is also a Japanese Garden area that is beautiful to take portraits in. PDP is also a wedding destination - and a stunning one at that! This location can be fairly busy though, so I'd recommend weeknights or mornings when it isn't as crowded. Parking is free but limited - on busy days, don't bother. Pt. Defiance Park is also a few minutes drive from Owen Beach - Ask about how you can include both for your portrait session.

  • Owen Beach, Tacoma - Right down the road from Pt. Defiance Park is this little, not so hidden gem. Owen Beach is simply beautiful and can include beach pictures, woodsy pictures OR BOTH! Owen Beach can be very crowded though so I'd recommend a sunrise session here. Parking is free and there are plenty of parking spots on site.





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Fun Prop Ideas for Your Portrait Session

Most of the portraits that I shoot focus more on the connection between people rather than props but I do recommend bringing one or two personal items to make your session unique and fun. It doesn't have to be big and elaborate to make amazing photos (but if you have a beautiful armchair briiiing it!!)

Couples/Engagement Photography

  • Chalkboard

  • Save the Date

  • Rings

  • Pillows, blankets

  • Candles

  • Flowers

  • Flower Crown

  • Beautiful Dress

  • Uniform

  • Antique or Victorian armchair, love seat or couch.

  • Matching item ex baseball caps or jerseys

  • Balloons

  • Hammock

  • A bicycle

  • Large balloon or half a dozen small ones (helium)

  • Umbrella

  • Signs

  • Old Pick-up truck or car

  • Row boat

  • Coffee

  • Hat

Maternity Photography

  • Book

  • Ultrasound Photo

  • Baby Shoes

  • Sign

  • Chalkboard

  • Letters Spelling Babies Name

  • Flowers

  • Floral Crown

  • Antique or Victorian armchair, love seat or couch.

  • Balloons

  • Pickles and Ice Cream!

  • Significant or cherished item

  • Chalk

  • Lace dress, a flowing dress

  • Fur baby and sign to announce pregnancy

  • Tiny crown

  • Baby Daddy!! siblings.

  • Sun hat

  • Swing (Can be adorned with flowers)

  • Large piece of sheer fabric

  • Wedding Rings

  • Tulle Skirt and Bralette

Senior Photography

  • Letterman Jacket

  • Sports Paraphernalia

  • Your best friend or close family member so you are more relaxed

  • Medals or Awards that you are proud of

  • Sports uniforms

  • Instruments

  • College Swag

  • Several Outfits

  • A fun hat

  • Sunglasses

  • Swing (Can be adorned with flowers)

  • Flowers

  • Floral Crown

  • Antique or Victorian armchair, love seat or couch.

  • Balloons

  • Book

  • Sign

  • Graduation year numbers

  • Globe

  • Flag

  • Significant Necklace or Bracelent

  • Class Ring

  • Props that elude to your future career (stethoscope for doctor etc)

  • The best prop you can bring is confidence and a genuine smile!

Family Photography

  • Pillows and Blanket

  • Tent, Campfire, s'mores

  • Chalkboard

  • Family Pet

  • Bicycles

  • Kayaks

  • Hiking boots and a gorgeous view!

  • Signs

  • Bubbles

  • Antique or Victorian armchair, love seat or couch.

  • Old Pick-up truck or car

  • Tee-Pee

Children's Photography

  • Watermelon

  • Lemonade stand

  • Kissing booth

  • Old Pick-up truck or car

  • Signs

  • Bubbles

  • Antique or Victorian armchair, love seat or couch.

  • Tee-Pee

  • Bicycle or Tricycle

  • Umbrella

  • Balloons

  • Child-sized chairs

  • Headbands

  • Bow Ties

  • Cakes or cupcakes

  • Lollipop

  • Swing

  • Vintage Suitcases

  • Chalk

Lifestyle Photography

  • Game or activity

  • Books

  • Baking

  • Ice cream

  • Pillow Fight

  • Fort

  • Sprinkler

  • Water balloons

  • Tea/coffee

  • Couch

  • Bed

  • Wagon

  • Bicycle or Tricycle

  • Popsicles

  • Trampoline

  • Hike

  • Tent, campfire, s'mores



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

Preparing For Your Portrait Session

Hello friends! So you're getting your picture taken! Let's talk about a few things to get you ready for our session!

Although we can schedule your session any time during the day, we try to schedule to take advantage of the best natural light. The hours after sunrise and before sunset are 'golden' times and have ideal lighting. The golden light of these hours are soft, flattering and BEAUTIFUL! Please make sure you specify one of these time slots if you are interested.

ASK QUESTIONS! We strive to create a custom experience for each of our clients. Feel free to ask questions including location advice, wardrobe, style, props and more! Below are a few guidelines to get you started.


  • Keep the attire simple, but coordinate colors for groups.

  • Solid colors are best... try to avoid large bold patterns and neon colors as they can take attention away from your face. If you do select an outfit with a pattern try to match that pattern to solid colors for the clothing of the other parties in the portrait.

  • When selecting your wardrobe consider the location of your portrait session and match accordingly. For example, soft colors look great at the beach and avoid green in the forest so you don't blend in!

  • If you plan to hang a large print or canvas of your images consider the colors of your home when selecting your wardrobe.

  • Darker, solid colors appear more slimming than lighter colors.

  • Dress weather appropriate so you aren't too hot or cold.

  • Be sure to include the appropriate shoes, socks and stockings for your outfit. Plan your wardrobe from head to toe as full length poses are a part of your portrait session.

  • Bring an outfit change(s) to add variety to your sitting.

  • Wear clothing you are uncomfortable in. If you are uncomfortable it will show in your face and will be harder to relax and enjoy yourself.

  • Avoid baggy clothing as it can make you look big/boxy.

  • Eyeglasses can create glare that hides your eyes. We recommend wearing contacts if you have them or asking your optician if you can borrow a similar frame without lenses.

  • Remember to empty your pockets of cellphones, keys, chapstick etc so there aren't visible outlines.

  • Ladies!!! Take your hairbands off your wrists.

  • Feel free to bring a few props with you to add a unique touch to your portraits.

  • Bring a portable speaker and your favorite tunes! Music can create some great vibes and help you relax.


We highly recommend getting your hair and make-up done as professional stylists know how to apply makeup to best bring out your natural beauty! Besides, knowing you look fabulous and FEELING fabulous will help you be more relaxed and happy. Those natural smiles and real laughter are always my fave!


There are many talented Hair and Makeup artists in the area, if you'd like suggestions please contact one of the artists on our Wedding Resource Guide.


  • Bring snacks to avoid hangry 'tudes. Also good for bribery.

  • Bring a comfort item - stuffed animal, pacifier, blankey etc.

  • Make sure parents AND kids are both rested. You may be so focused on making sure your child is well rested that you forget about yourself. Children are very sensitive to their parents emotions and even the slightest bit of grump or frustration can affect their behavior. Bottom line, if you are happy and relaxed your kids will be too!

  • Allow for extra time to get to the location and prepare for your session. The events leading up to your session can set the tone of the day. Extra time = no stress about being late and time for your munchkins to look around and acclimate to the location.

  • Don't force them to smile! That's my job! Kids are much more relaxed and natural when you aren't telling them what to do and what not to do. Relax and have fun with them, your smiles and laughter will relax them and then their smiles will come naturally. I'll say it again - when you are stressed they are stressed, when you are relaxed they are relaxed!

  • Bring baby wipes! Cause boogers.



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


Children's Posed Portraits vs. Lifestyle Photography | Olympia Photographer

When it comes to documenting the childhood of your kids there are several types of photography to choose from. One is posed - this is a very traditional type of photography and has been popular for a long time. Think school pictures!! Posed images can be taken indoor in a studio session or outdoor as well. Posed portaits are a great way to document your child's milestones and can turn out pretty stinkin' cute!!!

Big milestones are happening (back in December HAHA) at my house! I finally got around to taking some milestone portraits of my babies! Quinlynn turned two in September, Teagan turned four in October and Avalyn turned six months in November! Here are some cute little pictures of my babies that hopefully make you smile! If you have met these sweet kiddos you know that they are a pretty good representation of their personalities. There is the wild and Spicy Quinnie with a "Ba" (Pacifier) always in her hand, Avalyn with her constant smiles and chubby cheeks that make her eyes disappear when she grins and my sweet, giggly and giant Teagan. As an example of posed portraits, see these increcibly adorable studio portaits I took of my kids.

For many families professional photographers are hired once a year for family photos to put on a Christmas card but photography is so much more than that! Posed images with a flawless background are awfully adorable - and very convenient in winter months- but a more candid, lifestyle approach is really what speaks to me. Those little moment where my babies are concentrating on a project, learning a new skill, delighted with their favorite snack, playing dress up or hugging each other are the ones that I never want to forget. I love a good smiling picture and I do want some of those once in a while but the ones that capture the magic of their childhood at it's purest are my most treasured possessions. As examples I'll use my favorite images of 2016 and a couple irresistable ones from 2015.

Life is busy, parents, but no excuses. These moments with your child pass so quickly - it's easy to get caught up in life and put off photos over and over and then before you know it they are driving and applying to colleges. When they are tiny and sweet and just discovering the world there are so many little moments that your heart will miss so dearly. So get out your camera, or your cellphone and snap away.

For those of you that are reading this and shaking their head in laughter, thinking - "No way, not my kid, they are too crazy!" Hire a professional!! MOST kids are different with any other human on the planet than their moms. We've all seen it - we are at our wits end with a cranky baby and then a friend, or daddy shows up and they are smiling and giggling!! It's frustrating, but we share a deep connection with our kids that no one with ever experience so although they can be little turkey's for us time to time it's so worth it. Hiring a professional photographer can take some of the stress off of you when it comes to getting great pictures of your kids! It's part of our job - so sit back and relax and let's go capture your kids' personalities....don't forget to jump in a few too! Your kids will thank you when they are older.

In the end,  it doesn't matter if you choose posed or lifestyle photography - just choose! Remember, you have options and pick one or the other or, like me, a combination of both- what matters the most is that you do it!! Happy documenting! Call me if you want advice on great areas to take pictures of your kids, or better yet let me show you. <3

Happy Saturday! Have a great weekend and hope you get to spend some quality time with those you love the most.



Like what you see? To see more please like Sarah Gonia Photography's Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Pinterest page!

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