Big Sur Elopement

Oh california, how we love thee. Back in July we had a family/working vacation to California. While I was there I think I stayed still one or maybe two days. The first half of our trip we hit up Disneyland (I will blog that adventure later!) then I spent the other half in the valley and on the coast. I scheduled and planned an elopement shoot with San Franciscan model Ksenia Shabanova. Elopements are one of my favorite things to photograph. They are more intimate than a grand large wedding and typically have adventure mixed in with them. Actually, I just love anything to do with love, what am I saying! 

Designer: Vene Ai

Muse: Ksenia Shabanova

Florals: Emma Dilloughery

Mother's Day sessions are right around the corner!

 Just a quick note friends, every mother LOVES pampering. So, why don't you book her a nail day, have her get her hair done and then schedule a beautiful mom & me session with yours truly?! Mother's love photos with their kids, trust me, I'm a mom! Our kids grow up way too fast, so let me help you capture this special time and the love you all share! 

Just a quick note friends, every mother LOVES pampering. So, why don't you book her a nail day, have her get her hair done and then schedule a beautiful mom & me session with yours truly?! Mother's love photos with their kids, trust me, I'm a mom! Our kids grow up way too fast, so let me help you capture this special time and the love you all share! 

What's your why?

I was recently asked what my why was. First, can we talk about what a tongue twister that was to type? It reminds me of “Who? What? When? Where? And why?” Ironically enough, my why, is a who. If you know me at all you know I’m crazy about my daughter, Madilyn. She’s a year old now, I still can’t believe it. Mostly I can’t believe everything that’s happened in just a year. 


-packed up our life, moved across the country 

-started a new life/home

-traveled so much my head is still spinning, 16 different states an one US territory in a year

-made new friends

-got a new car

-became a mom


That’s the big one, best for last. The growth that has come from being Madi’s Mom is unreal. I don’t even know who I was before I had her at this point. Sure every once in awhile I’ll have flashbacks to before, but I wouldn’t change where I’m at now for the world. Why is she my why? She gives me hope. She gives me strength I never knew I had. She brings me tears of joy and of frustration (good god, does she ever). She’s my biggest inspiration and my pushing motivation. Honestly, until you’re a mom you just can’t explain with words why your child is your why. They just are. 


Why do I take photos of her, all the time? Well I don’t. Usually it’s about once a week or so honestly. Like any good parent, I want to document who she is, who we are and how she’s been brought up. She has tangible prints in case technology fails us (it’s going to y’all). Mostly I want her to look back at the moments in the photographs and realize how much we love and adore her.


Check out some of my rad photo friends and their why's!

Northern Utah Photographer

NEPA Boudoir Photographer

Oklahoma Maternity Photographer Nicole Gulick Photography


Dear Madilyn, your story is here.

It’s so crazy to think how fast time really does go. I feel like just the yesterday I was walking around staring at my belly watching it move under my shirt. But no, yesterday Madi was actually watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse eating one of her favorite Gerber Baby cookies. One year ago today, our daughter was born. I’ve shared my birth story (from my perspective) with a few people, but I’ve never really shared the images I captured while I was in labor... Yeah... I was one of “those” moms. 

7 Feb 2017

We were in the middle of getting our house ready to sell In Washington. Our bathroom was the last and biggest project. For those who don’t know, we apparently bought a part of a Vegas hotel. The master bathroom was wall to wall smoked mirrors with pinky-orange wall sconces... it was great if, you’re in the 70’s, but we new it would be a deterrent to potential buyers, but I digress.

The day before, we had pulled the mirrors off the walls (more like smacked the crap out of them) and while Seth was at work I went through and patched the drywall. On this day, I was sanding and applying spray texture to finish the job up so we could paint and be done with it. No big deal right? WRONG. The day passes by and I’m taking a break. Seth called me on his way home- finally. Apparently guys had come back home from overseas and he was welcoming them back properly, whiskey and all! He calls and I’m pacing back and forth because I’m 38+ weeks pregnant and miserable, can’t sit still but don’t want to do a thing. I’m walking from our bedroom to the front door and suddenly, “Uh... either I just peed myself or my water broke!” Seth was on the phone listening to me advise myself what to do. I finally decided to call the hospital and ask (y’all, thank GOD for nurse lines). They weren’t for sure but it sounded like my water had surely broke and I needed to come right now. FALSE!!! Thanks to the good ‘ol parenting planning classes I knew I had SIX hours from the time it broke until I needed to be there. So what do I do?


I did laundry, made tacos for dinner (horrible mistake that I later regretted), Seth got home and finished painting the bathroom. After that, we called my mom. We decided that she didn’t need to hop on a plane that night, and boy that was no joke. We let our friends know what was going on so they could go take care of our dog and cat, love their hearts and they made a super cute welcome to the world Madilyn sign. Back to me- as we were driving to the hospital I remember pulling onto hwy 512 thinking, “Hey can we change he name?” Seth was like what do you have in mind? 

“I just don’t feel like Jo is feminine enough, can we call her Madilyn Jolene?” 

And there, driving to the hospital we changed her name. 

We get to the hospital and they lug me to Labor and Delivery. What y’all also don’t know is I was quite a regular there. I’d been in three times before for blood pressure issues, early contractions/dehydration and god knows what else... It was fun while Seth was deployed. We finally got the word, my water had broke. They were admitting me and we weren’t leaving that hospital without a baby. You want to talk about a terrifying thought?! First time parents, hours upon hours away from family... and a bathroom/bedroom still in disarray and chaos. Thank goodness for Mom (more on that later)!   

The OB they had on staff was super pushy. In military hospitals, you don’t get to pick and choose. If I had my way, my OB Doctor Katie would’ve delivered Madi. She was AMAZING. I can not say enough nice and wonderful things about her. She also completely called that I would have Madi when I did. So this dude, is telling me they’re going to get my pitocin and epidural ordered and start prepping me for it. ALSO FALSE. I, like all these new age crazy moms, wanted to go ALL NATURAL. I was made for this right? He rolls his eyes, or how I’m imaging/remembering and says fine and leaves. 8:30pm we got there, by 11:30pm I’m still not contracting. Not a single one. So we start weighing our options. I’m going to have to get the pitocin. I don’t want to, but at this point, we’re racing the clock. I walked around, bounced on the birth balls, played with my boobs, all the things they tell you to do. Still, she was being stubborn, like her father (not mother...) and didn’t want to come out. When they hooked me up to the pitocin the first five minutes were a cake walk, then, good lord!


8 Feb 2017

I went from 11:something PM till about 4am without anything. I remember being completely miserable, they kept raising the amount of pitocin and the contractions brought on by that stuff were intense. And not a good kind of intense. Intense like your body can feel it to the point where you’re shaking, crying and finally decide to get pain medication. I got the pain medication (newvane) thanks to Seth asking for some and was able to rest. High as a friggin kite, telling jokes to the nurses and nice doctors that came in. The staff that I had was fantastic. They listened to what I wanted and kept my spirits up. It was a training hospital so each person that came in always had an underling with them, the rooms were quite small to have so many people, but it worked out. My medication wore off and we were back to misery and pain. Seth left the room for something and I grabbed the nurse and told her I wanted the epidural. Y’all I know I’m tough, I realized I was just being stubborn for no reason at that point, I was so afraid of something going wrong and getting a botched epidural. They hooked me up, it to, along with everything else, was terrifying. The ‘jump’ they warn you about I really wasn’t ready for. We tested it, they said it was heavy on one side, meaning I felt it more on my right than my left. OH- important part I left out, I don’t really remember when it happened but the Midwives came in to check on me, “my doctor was ‘busy’”. I remember asking the lady because she was so kind and sweet, if she’d deliver my baby?!? I wanted HER, She was a little taken back and said she’d go check and see if it was ok. Low and behold, it was. So midlabor, I switched to Midwife vs. OB. And I’m so happy I did! They upped my pitocin, again. This time I had an epidural to help. Y’all I pushed that button so many times they finally turned it off (as I was getting closer to finally pushing). The lead nurse came in about 10 something and says “girl, you’re going to have this baby before 1pm when we switch shifts.” Really lady? I thought to myself. How can you tell, I guess she has done this a time or two and I should probably listen to her. I remember being SO annoyed because both Seth’s and my phone were going off CONSTANTLY. Seriously, I was pushing and he was responding to text because SOME PEOPLE have to know everything all the dang time... I was so mad and still mad about that actuall. (Y’all seriously, if someone you know, and love is going into labor LEAVE THEM ALONE. They will respond when they can. I’m so bitter next time we have a child, people aren’t knowing till it’s here.)

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I knew, I KNEW, I absolutely had to photograph the birth. My entire pregnancy I thought about it the most. I looked at other photographer’s beautiful images and knew I could do that. So, I did. At 1:45pm’ish Seth handed me my camera while I was pushing, I captured her head, crowning. Not the best photo but I love it just the same. I pushed for 90 LONG minutes. Then at 1:01pm Madilyn Jolene McKuin was born into this crazy world. And I got the photo of a life time! The Midwife held her up wth a huge, huge smile, I leaned up as far as I could and, click.” Exhausted from pushing I remember nearly throwing my camera at Seth. I was done! A purple crying squishy little creature came out in a ball of fury. They put her straight to my chest  after I snapped the photo and I honestly don’t remember much from that. I didn’t cry, I still don’t know how. I held her and Seth and the Lead Midwife took a few photos for me while I couldn’t. I tried to capture photos after they started cleaning her up, it was definitely difficult, but I’m so happy I was able to capture this moment.  I’m also so grateful for my mom, who brought order to the chaos that was our house while I was in the hospital. She flew up the next morning before Madi was born to help us out. She took care of our fur babies and even brought me food while I was under lock down (aka the 48 hours they don’t let you leave the hospital.)

I can not thank the staff at Madigan enough for all the support they gave me, well us, while we were there. My birth didn’t go as I planned, but I ended up with a healthy beautiful baby girl, a happy joyful husband... and the photos I’ll never forget! 


 1:01pm on 8 Feb 2017 weighing 7.6 lbs and measuring 18.5 inches long.

1:01pm on 8 Feb 2017 weighing 7.6 lbs and measuring 18.5 inches long.

Growth, guidance, and all that gravy.

For awhile now I've thought about blogging. A few years ago I swore my life needed to be a TV show. If Jersey Shore could make it, my life would be a hit. I thought that, along with every other 20'something year old in America. I never got my TV show. My life took turns and twists, then plateau'd out. By the way, try remembering how to spell plateau after being out of school for a while, maybe it's just a mom brain moment. 
Anyway, what sparked this new grand idea to finally blog was I ran into (actually she hired me) an old client from Washington. I was just a couple months into being established there when I met Cassie and her daughter. She hired me then for a Mother's day session. At the time I thought I was all about that light and airy life and thought I was amazing and knew all things. I recently saw one of the photos from that day.


Oh. My. Goodness. 

Her daughter is now 3, not 1. That right there is so much growth. I have grown as an artist since that day. I'm also now a mother myself. My daughter is almost one. I'm almost in the position Cassie was in when we first met. Two and a half years. That's all it took, all the time that's gone by, that feels like a lifetime. The growth from all sides is incredible to look back at. 

Anyway, these are my late night random ramblings and thoughts after I get Madi to bed. Where will we be in two and a half years? Only time will tell.