Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thoughts on a Christmas Eve morn

This year was a year of change. It didn't start out that way - it began as most years do, with resolutions & business plans & such. But this summer, my father-in-law suffered a medical emergency, and by mid-August he was gone. He was laid to rest in a beautiful spot right by my husband, who passed seven years ago.

One month later, I had applied and been accepted to graduate school. (It's a low-residency program, so I will still be in Salem to create portrait art for you all. No worries!) I chose an MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. It's about an hour drive from my home via the back roads, so the twice-yearly pilgrimage to on-campus seminars will be an easy one.

We can never see our future, not really, but I have the strong sense that my love of photography & my love of writing will somehow be intertwined. Perhaps creative books with portraits of my clients & a written tale of their lives? Perhaps a collaboration of my visual & written art? Perhaps a reality much bigger & better than any I can imagine?

I think that is the message of this year. Our dreams are only the beginning. Our futures - yours, mine - will be grander & stranger than what we can envision. Rather than trying to glimpse (and plan) it all before we dare begin, we need to pray & trust & fly out our doors every day, because wonderful adventures await.

A very merry Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's SUPPOSED to be fun!

Marge was recently ordained as a deacon in the Episcopalian church. I knew Marge as a fellow member of St. Paul's Episcopal. She also went to seminary with my son, Gabriel, in an ecumenical school called Northwest House of Theological Studies, loosely affiliated with Willamette University.

Together, we decided she needed an updated 'biz pic' as she steps into her new vocation. Before we began, she (like 90% of the people who come before my camera) told me she didn't really enjoy having her photograph taken.

When we were finished, she said, "That was fun!" I told her (as I told all the others), "It's SUPPOSED to be fun!" :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I took a mini vacation to Portland, Oregon, affectionately known by the locals as 'Stumptown'. I visited with a friend who is an avid amateur photographer, and we spent a full day wandering through downtown & the Pearl district, photographing the sights.

This was photography for the sheer joy of it - but I also took the opportunity to learn. I have a very wide angle lens, and I wanted to become more comfortable with it. So, I put it on my camera and used it all day long. It forced me to see the world through a WIDE perspective. I was frustrated sometimes when I saw a beautiful photo op that begged for a zoom lens, but by the end of the day, I was pretty pleased with my results. I love photography!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Biz Pics!

I don't think a business portrait needs to be boring. Even a basic head-and-shoulders shot should show the unique personality of the individual.

Fabulous Ms. Teresa was in my studio last week for a biz pic. She is an Arbonne consultant - great products, if anyone is looking for a really wonderful skin care line!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Isn't Your Parent's Church Directory

That's what one of the members of First Congreg. said as I photo- graphed them for their new directory!

And it's true. My vision for a church directory is NOT the painful, ugly process that we've come to expect. A directory should be a ministry from start to finish. It should be beautiful. It should be fun!

Fun? Church directory photography? I know, I know. You're skeptical, aren't you? But the members of First Congregational aren't - not anymore.

And I've discovered that I LOVE doing this ministry. It's a lot of hard work, but it provides this poor widow a living wage :), it allows me to partner with congregation members to create a beautiful directory AND fund other church ministries, and best of's....(you know it's coming)....FUN! We laugh and talk and get to know one another. The hardest part is leaving when the photography time is over.

The best part is that I feel like I have another church home. Isn't that how it should be?

Interested in having our studio photograph your next directory? Click here for more information. Wow. I sound like an informercial, don't I? I guess I'm just in a happy tizzy about directories. Down, girl... :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Memory Itself

A portrait I did recently has been causing all kinds of excitement amongst her friends, and I wanted to comment on personal portrait art.

I truly believe that we all need portrait art that captures our heart & soul. A good portrait is MEMORY itself. It reminds us who we are, and tells succeeding generations about our unique spirit.

Yes, we want images with our families. With our pets. With our children and our spouses and our friends.

But we are all unique individuals. At some point, we should have a portrait that commemorates who WE are - a portrait that points us to ourselves. That reminds us that we are unique, special, and that we each carry within us an eternal Spark that causes us to shine brightly in each others' eyes. Because sometimes we forget that truth about ourselves.

Great portrait art is indisputable proof that we are special - to ourselves, to our families, and to the universe.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seniors as Art

Eli is one of those well-connected people who just seems to know EVERYONE. It doesn't matter if I'm talking to a student at West Salem, South Salem, or North Salem - everyone knows Eli! I think that's partly because he is a very caring person. For example, he volunteered to take care of my doggie a couple of years ago when my dad was ill and I needed to travel to Portland often. That's why, when he came and told me he wanted to work for me, I was happy to hire him.

Well, we FINALLY got together for his senior session. He was more nervous about it than anyone! :) We talked about what he'd like to see in his session. He said that he wanted some images that had an artistic feel to them, something a bit out of the ordinary. I think we succeeded - what do you think?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This morning I found this website, BeadForLife, which sells unique, affordable, beautiful jewelry. And it's made from paper! I thought these items were very groovy, and wanted to share.

As an added bonus, it's a fair trade business. What is fair trade? It's the idea that craftspeople in developing countries should be paid sustainable wages for their products. One Fair World in downtown Salem is a fair trade store, and has beautiful items at very reasonable prices, too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Day to Remember

Jordan & Andrew were married on Saturday. I originally knew Jordan as a classmate of my son, Nicholas, and as a participant in South Salem High School's EXCELLENT music program.

Time moves on, doesn't it? She has been attending college in Seattle for - is it three years now, Jordan? - and while there, she met Andy.

Jordan & Andy have something special going on. I watched them during our engagement photography session, and you can see the love & the respect they have for one another. They are very affectionate - and SO cute!

The wedding was held at a beautiful old church in Albany. It was raining most of the day, but we managed to sneak outside for a few shots!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

In Memory of the Judge

Most people called him the Judge. Even long into retirement, he was usually affectionately addressed as “Judge” by friends and acquaintances. He did spend a quarter of a century on the bench, after all. But I never thought of him as the Judge. I knew him as my lovable, if irascible, father-in-law.

Many were a little nervous around him – even his children, if the truth be told, and for good reason. He had a quick mind and a debater’s heart, and he did not hesitate to severely challenge a carelessly spoken opinion, even if he agreed with it. In the beginning, I kept my mouth shut around him because our political and life views were not often in agreement.

During those early days, he made statements that just INFLAMED me, but I sat quietly and seethed – until the day that I caught him glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. I realized he was baiting me! He was deliberately making outrageous statements, just to get me to engage. I finally took the bait, and we found in each other worthy sparring partners. From that day on he adored me and I adored him right back. He was a loving grandfather to my children, and a caring father-in-law to me.

We remained close even after my beloved husband, his son, died: closer, really, because by then his health was declining a little and my sons & I were the only family in town. We invited him over for dinner every Monday night. I would cook and musically talented Nicholas would sing. The weekly dinners quickly evolved into concerts with Nick & his many talented friends, who entertained us with piano concertos, opera oratorios, jazz numbers, and more. The Monday night dinners are legendary still – all started to please a man who meant the world to us.

Dad’s health declined precipitously this past year. In June, he was moved to Tennessee to be near his oldest son.

I got the phone call this morning. It was a blessing, really. In the end, he was nothing but a shell of himself, hooked up to a respirator, IV’s, and a feeding tube. But the fact that it was a blessing for him doesn’t completely ease the pain for me.

Who is going to sit with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes while Nicholas sings? Who is going to engage me verbally and challenge my opinions? Who is going to complain that the world is ‘no damn good’ and in the next breath relate a tale of justice and kindness?

He was difficult and lovable and cantankerous and generous and I treasure all the evenings we spent talking over a glass of wine. I loved him deeply and I will miss him dearly.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nicholas - Tenor of the Future

My Nicholas has the most beautiful tenor voice. He is studying vocal performance at college and, in fact, will return to Millikin University in just one week. I'll miss him!

Nick has been singing at St. Mark since he was 3. Today he sang a duet with choir director Judith Linder. (He was worship assistant, too, hence the white robes.) Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Behind Bars for 'Good'

This morning, I was served an arrest warrant and put behind bars for 'good'. Will you help me post bail? Click here to help Jerry's kids!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Playing in Seattle

While in Seattle for the Richmond wedding, I took time to explore the downtown area. Couldn't resist making use of my Flip camcorder!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The bluest skies you've ever seen - in Seattle!

Genuine, kind, determined, committed – these are words that describe Danielle & Caleb. You see it in their relationship with each other, with their spiritual community, and with the world. It was a blessing to be part of their wedding on Saturday!

They were married at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. Danielle’s mom made her wedding dress, a beautiful fitted dress with a royal blue train & hand embroidered accents.

I first met Danielle at a dinner in her mother's home. Mom has the gift of hospitality, and her daughter shares her ability to make people feel welcome. Even though I'd never met either woman before, I felt an instant connection.

I also met Caleb at one of Mom's celebrated dinners. (Two or three times a year, she invites a bevy of friends & strangers into her home. Authentic Indian cuisine & Seder celebrations are amongst the annual offerings.) I was immediately struck by his kindness, which was coupled with a zeal and determination - a rare and powerful combination!

Danielle works in the Episcopal church (at St. Mark's cathedral, in fact) and plans to pursue vocation as a priest. That's 4-5 MORE years of college, of course.

Danielle & Caleb are a natural and perfect fit for each other, and I wish them joy & a deeply spiritual walk through life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fantasy Series

I have a wonderful client who wanted me to create a fantasy series for her son. "I'm not a graphic designer," I responded. "That's really not my forte."

"You can do it, Cherie, I just KNOW you can!" was Loriann's response.

I drug my feet and drug my feet. It really ISN'T my area of expertise, you know. But I finally sat down today, and with the help of some stock images (thank you to the photographers who make these backgrounds available) I created my first fantasy series.

It was fun! My client was right. I COULD do it. Sometimes we just need to be pushed out of our comfort zone. But don't tell Loriann - who knows what she'll dream up next!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fabulous Fourth!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous Fourth of July! I am grateful that in 1776 AND today, people have the courage to dream new dreams and to take action to see them realized! I am reminded that the birth of new ideas arises out of unflagging work and sacrifice...

But on a lighter note, here's what one photographer does on a holiday:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Video Insights

I bought a Flip MinoHD, and immediately put a video up on Facebook of me in my studio. Hey, it’s a business deduction, so I’d better be using it for business, right?

I was surprised by the strong response I received. Not about the fact that I stay current with technology (although I pat myself on the back for that. I may be over 50, but I’m as groovy as ever. Oops. Did I just say “groovy”?)

The observations that really caught my attention were from high school classmates whom I haven’t seen for 30 years. They commented on how beautiful I was and that, seeing my personality on the video, they could understand why I was such a popular photographer.

Wow. You see, I was not a ‘popular’ teenager. Not by a long shot. I think it was because my self-esteem, in every category except academic achievement, registered in the negative scale.

It made me think. What changed between geeky 17 and today? What caused me to turn from an insecure teenager into a confident adult? I know that I struggled through my 20’s and beyond. When did it change?

Two things come to mind. One is life’s challenges. When tribulation comes our way, we can either grow, or we can shrink. Through the grace of God, I have grown with the sorrows (as well as the joys!)

The second is photography. My passion for what I do, the response I get from my clients and my friends, the joy of CREATING, brings a deep sense of centeredness. When I am photographing, I know who I am. I feel a sense of where I belong in the universe. Photography both grounds me and allows me to fly. And I think that’s what my old classmates (and current friends) saw in my short movie.

Funny how it takes an amateurish video to bring that all to light, huh?

PS: Here's the video:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Even When it isn't Like I Dreamed...

In a photographer's magazine, I saw an article with some BREATHTAKING newborn portrait art. Babies suspended in fabric, cradled in Daddy's hands, etc. All sleeping peacefully, of course.

What the article didn't tell us is the photographer's secret to getting those serene babies. I'm thinking it must involve hard liquor and baby bottles. But perhaps I'm just feeling jaded.
I had a newborn session scheduled for today, and I couldn't WAIT. Those images had inspired me to try even more creative poses, and I was ready with gauzy fabric, a beautiful soft baby basket, and other props to create show-stopping images.
But little Brayden had other ideas. He did not fall into a blissful sleep. He did not think my soft bed (away from warm humans) was enticing. He did not think that being suspended in thin air with gauzy fabric was a good idea. AT ALL.
So, after quite a bit of time spent trying to convince him that great art was worth his cooperation, his parents & I did it Brayden's way. And you know what? It was magic all the same.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Model Kaila

I didn't get ALL of my models into my blog - they came fast & furious, and I couldn't keep up! But I want to be sure to feature Kaila (since she doesn't have Facebook) - my final model of the season. Watch my website - there will be cool new pics come June 1! Thank you to Kaila for modeling for me...

I love my clients!

As many of you know, I send out a questionnaire after every session, asking what I did well and where I can improve. I recently received one of these completed questionnaires in the mail, and it made my day.

They said, "The photographic experience was enjoyable, pleasant and timed just right - you are very intuitive and know just when to finish. We were very pleased with the quality of the prints - they were very personal, natural & fresh! We loved the personal touches, the welcome & warm feeling, the very chic atmosphere - we fell in love with the style right away. We have absolutely never had an experience like this before - it was thoroughly enjoyable! Cherie, you are a blessing."

Thank you, Sobieski family! You brought tears of gratitude to this photographer's eyes. I have the best clients in the world!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Michael - class of 2009

Michael was originally going to graduate in 2010, but he completed his requirements early, and decided to join the class of 2009. Congratulations, Michael!

His family are wonderful clients of mine - I've also photographed his sister Natalie for her graduation portraits (class of 2008? 2007? I'm getting old...) and we enjoyed a wonderful, whimsical family portrait session.

Talisa - Class of 2009!

I don't want to slight my class of 2009 clients! Talisa came into my studio a couple of weeks ago. We had a lot of fun together - and I love her family!


And the beat goes on....

The interest in modeling this year has been stellar! As most of you know, I only accept 50 high school students a year for senior portraiture. At this rate, my models will take most of those spots! (Just kidding - there's plenty of spaces left. Well, not PLENTY, but if you call early, you shouldn't have a problem.) Here are two more of my fabulous models, Ashlyn & Allie!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Class of 2010!

Oh, my gosh. We've just started our model shoots for class of 2010, and if Sarah & Madison are any indication, it's going to be FABULOUS! Check out more pics on my Facebook & MySpace pages, but here are just a couple of my favs:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I love in a section of town affectionately dubbed by the exterminators as "Ant Hill". It's a pretty upscale neighborhood (I live in one of the smallest homes in the area, BTW) so you wouldn't expect critters here. But ants are no respecter of property - especially not mine.

They're back. After a winter of ant-free bliss, they have arrived in full force. The first couple of years that I lived in this neighborhood, I tried to avoid pesticides. I'm sort of a natural greenie, you see. I was an 'organic gardener' before it was trendy. (Yep, clear back then.) It just never occurred to me to put chemicals on the food I was going to eat. But the ants took over - EVERYTHING.

Now when it comes to ants, I stock up from the chemical store shelves - bring on the insecticides! My little traps are everywhere, ready to lure the unsuspecting ants. They take the poison back to their homes, and....the dirty deed is done. It takes several bouts before I really wipe out the nest, but then I can count on a relatively ant-free summer, fall and winter.

Thus I am a killer. It's antithetical to my nature, really - but so is being covered in crawling ants. The killer part of me wins. Welcome, Spring!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Photo Mentor

We've unveiled it at last! Do you love picking up your camera? Do you look at some of your images and secretly think, “Hey, that’s pretty good!” Would you like to learn more, but:

1. You feel overwhelmed by the technical jargon in many magazines and articles;
2. You wonder if you’re creative enough;
3. You worry about the cost of pursuing your photography passion.

What if there was a place where you could gather with people just like you?
What if
you could learn without feeling anxious about the technical aspects?
What if
you could pursue your passion in an affordable and fun way?

Well, now that place exists! Check out our short (about 4 minute) movie and get a free article here:

I Am A Photographer

I would really value your feedback on this. I want to know what you think!

And then check out the website itself:


I'll be eagerly awaiting your opinion!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Women in Red!

I've become known for my images of women in Red.
In doing so, I'm breaking a cardinal rule of portrait photographers. As a professional, I'm supposed to prefer that my clients wear blue, green, white, tan - colors that supposedly draw attention to the client's face, not their clothing.

But I've never like that rule. I love red! And I think that red shows off a client in a way no other color can.

So that's how I started becoming known for my women in Red. A couple of my images have become iconic, and people immediately know it's me when they see them.

This year, I started an annual tradition. Every February, I invite women to come into my studio for a complimentary (FREE) portrait session. I ask that they wear something red and fabulous! I will use these portraits all year long for my marketing. Here are more images from my sessions:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Celebration Continues!

January's celebration of women continues. Karen is the lady with the purple business card. (Can you tell she likes purple? I LOVE her hair!) She is a health insurance agent who specializes in helping the self-employed. I highly recommend her. (You can contact her for your health insurance needs at: 503.623.6381.)

Karen visited my studio today because she needed to update her publicity portrait. We did that, of course, and lots more. Here are a couple of images from her session. Thank you, Karen!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Celebration of Women

January is Romanza month here at the studio. Our Romanza sessions in Celebration of Women are half-price. This week, Terri visited the studio. We talked and laughed and created some wonderful artwork.

In deference to her modesty, I've only displayed here some images taken as potential publicity portraits. But let me tell you, I'd LOVE to show some of the more romantic art, because she looks like a million dollars!

As women, we are finally realizing that we are beautiful at all times and in all stages of our life. It's wonderful to see so many of you this month - it's a great time to reconnect & have girl time. Thanks for coming in, Terri!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The madness of the artist

I had a client recently request the raw files from a publicity session, because her book is soon to be published, and the publisher requires unretouched images. She obviously compared the image I initially presented her with the raw file, because she commented on how much more she appreciated what I did in my digital darkroom. Here was my response to her:

In the camera, I capture the physical. In the digital darkroom, I capture the spirit. Together, I capture the person. An artist shows what mere medium cannot.

But that's why I hate to have people see their images unretouched, because they mistakenly think that's the 'real' them.

But that’s not true, anymore than a corpse is the 'real' person. If you've ever seen someone who's just passed, you know how NOT true that is. It is our spirit that gives animation and life to our corporeal fluff.

And it’s the artist’s job to capture that that magical combination of body and spirit. We work in two dimensions to capture what exists in three-four-more? dimensions (for in how many dimensions resides the spirit?) It is an unattainable undertaking. Perhaps that’s why artists are often perceived as half-mad. We have to be, to be so driven to attempt the impossible.

But it is in our striving that we create art that lifts the soul and brings hope and healing to the body, which gives people the emotional fortitude to face the challenges of every day.

Artists gift to people the vision of their true selves, and there is no more potent medicine nor more powerful talisman than that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Studio Redecorate

OK, this isn't news for many of you, who have visited my studio in the past 6 months. Still, I thought it would be fun for everyone to see the makeover, ala my business consultant, Ariel. (See her profile here.)

Gone is the pool table :( but the newly decorated studio definitely captures the boutique-style that matches the photography you love!