create a dream: nutrition coach (part two)

As part of our photo session together, Aly wanted photographs with her family in their garden this year. Their hard work is inspiring…but so is the beautiful location. It was my favorite part of our time together (you know how I feel about photographing children…my favorite!)


As a mom, knowing and understanding the importance of nutrition has come slowly for me over the years. I struggle with how to teach my children. I know force and full restriction isn’t healthy. I am wondering how someone, with your knowledge, implements and inspires your family in nutrition…

This is one of the questions I get asked most frequently. It takes A LOT of work, intentionality, and preparation to take care of our own nutrition. How in the WORLD do we help our kids? 

Obviously, the best way is by example. But also with dropping hints along the way. haha! I try to offer my young kids different foods multiple times for them to have the opportunity to like it. Sometimes they never do. But there is a statistic that says it could take as many as 12 tries before you like a certain food. I also like to tell my kids what different nutrients or foods “do” for our bodies. For example, I’ll tell them that broccoli helps heal their scrapes and cuts. Or eggs can help keep their eyes strong. They think that’s pretty cool. I actually remember my mom telling me the same sorts of things growing up. 

I also talk A LOT about the effects of junk food on our bodies and moods. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE treats and desserts. But I can tell in myself and my children if we’ve been having a lot of sugar.  I can tell because we all get so grumpy afterwards!! I’ll tell my kids, “Sugar tastes SO good. But it doesn’t make me feel very good. Those brownies are kind of making my stomach hurt and I think we all may be a little grumpy from it.” Or “I had a CRAZY dream last night, do you think it could have been the chocolate ice cream I ate before bed?” I want to teach them there is a connection between what we eat and how we feel. I am VERY careful not to use words like “fat” in front of my kids. We like to talk about the benefits of how healthy foods help us be STRONG. Or I tell them things like healthy food helps us be awesome soccer players or ballerinas. 

For older kids, which I haven’t fully experienced yet, I have offered the idea of having kids track their food in an app like, My Fitness Pal, for just a day or two. So they can have a better understanding of what calories are and which foods have more or less calories and nutrients. I don’t believe kids, including teenagers, should track their food intake long-term. Kids bodies are growing so rapidly and I don’t believe they should be worried about restricting calories. Besides putting their growth at risk, it could also cause more self esteem problems and unhealthy relationships with food. However, teenagers are old enough to understand what different nutrients can do for their bodies and how balanced nutrition can help them perform better in school, in sports, and in life. If you could challenge kids to go sugar or junk food free for one month, I think they’d be surprised at how good they feel and how clear their minds are!

I also think it’s very important to involve kids in cooking and preparing food from an early age. Preparing food at home is the healthiest way to eat and they need to know HOW to menu plan, grocery shop, and prepare food. 

Anxiety and depression are on the rise, as we all know. And I can’t help but suspect that our diets are a huge culprit in those illnesses. Blood sugar regulation helps with mood stabilization. Adequate water helps with energy and proper bodily functions. Protein helps rebuild ALL our cells in our bodies. Healthy fats help with brain and hormone function. It also keeps our hair looking good! I know there are so many facets to mental health. But for the sake of our kids, cleaning up their nutrition should be one of our first lines of defense. And I believe we need to teach our children these things!

I want to thank Aly (and her beautiful family!) for taking the time to share, not only what she is passionate about, but also details on how to put her work into practice. If you don’t already, follow Aly on IG, you can find her wisdom there @food.rebel

a light study

50mm | f1.8 | 1/250 | iso100

It is the last week of school in our neighborhood (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!) and this beautiful friend of mine is graduating from high school. I felt lucky to be able to create these images with her. I have known her since her preschool days I think! I love seeing the amazing person she is and how she has found so many things she is passionate about. She has a beautiful future ahead of her.

I photographed her at Tunnel Springs because I love it there and it is really close to where we both live. These were shot in the evening. (See the warm glow of the sunset behind her!?) The sun is setting behind her left shoulder. These are backlit with the tree as a sort of buffer so that the back light doesn’t overtake the background. She stays in the same general spot in all of the images I will share with you. I am using the 50mm 1.2L prime lens. It is without zoom capabilities. When you see the photo brought in…it is from me moving physically closer…and also to her right side to change the way the light effects the image.

50mm | f1.8 | 1/250 | iso100

I have moved directly in front of her and closer in this image. Shooting at f1.8 will create a soft back drop. The softening will increase as you move closer. Remember the sun is over her left shoulder (right of the photograph).

50mm | f1.2 | 1/640 | iso100
50mm | f1.2 | 1/640 | iso100

The subject is backlit here but I am slightly above her so that the light is not hitting the lens…there is no flare. I try to remember to bring a step stool to every photo session. The sun is still behind that left shoulder but I have moved and Gabby has turned her head to face me.

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 | iso100

I have positioned myself, still above but facing the light more straight on. Notice how the warmth increases with these small adjustments.

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 |iso100

I positioned myself at that spot (more straight on as said above…) and a bit lower to add more light around the subject. If you like a stronger backlight fill- position yourself so that you are facing the light. Your subject will be between you (your camera) and the sun. Move your camera up|down and side to side to make little adjustments that will add more or less light in the image.

lower…and more light…and more warmth

50mm | f1.2 | 1/400 | iso100
35mm | f1.8 | 1/200 | iso100

In this image I have moved back to where I started, directly facing Gabby…moved back and did trade lenses to the 35mm 1.4L . I think it is fascinating how the light, it’s color and intensity, changes just by small adjustments.

Do you like shooting with backlight? Do you ever “buffer” it’s intensity with something- like this tree?


50mm | f2.0 | 1250 | iso100
location: Tunnel Springs Park, NSL, UT

I will always be a student of photography. Creating STILL images with LIGHT has added so much goodness to my life. It has taught me to see beyond what my eye sees in passing. It has taught me to love the uniqueness in those I photograph. It has captured moments and memories that would have long since faded without that photograph. I will forever be a grateful student of this art form.


There is always some apprehension for Ellie leading up to a dance…but she has come home so happy every time. Going with her friend Caden this year was no exception. He is such a nice young man. They went with their group to Top Golf the night before and watched movies later. Saturday they met at the Salt Lake Country Club and asked me to take their photos. I am always so grateful for the opportunity, it is a huge perk of being a “camera-lady!”

Ellie, Caden, Cami, Camden, Maddie, Daniel, Shaylee & Isaac

Easter dress…

135mm | f2.5 | 1/4000 | iso320

On our trip to Las Vegas for spring break, we did a little shopping. We found this dress for Ellie at Urban Outfitters. We both loved it and thought it would be a good excuse to do a photoshoot together. Ellie liked the idea of green backdrop (we can’t wait for spring…or summer for that matter!) so we went to one of our favorite spots, Tunnel Springs Park in North Salt Lake. When we first began going there, we were alone except for the dog walkers and mountain bikers. Now I see photographers there most of the time. Can you blame them? It is pretty magical.

lensbaby | 1/5000 | iso320
50mm | f1.6 | 1/1600 | iso100
50mm | f1.2 | 1/3200 | iso100
50mm | f2.0 | 1/1250 | iso100

I have been buying Easter dresses for my girls since Ellie was a tiny baby. It is even more fun now, because they like to shop for them. Kate and Sophie have one two…two more excuses to take their photos πŸ™‚


35mm | f1.8 | 1/3200 | iso100

Ellie turned SEVENTEEN this month. Her birthday was filled with Kate’s lacrosse game and her own bass lesson. We finally met up for dinner, a late dinner. She picked SAPA in Salt Lake. The sun had set several hours before but we were grateful to celebrate one of our favorite days together!

With a day off from school Monday, we finally had free schedules during daytime hours. We headed to Salt Lake and decided to do our birthday photoshoot at Trolley Square. I am so grateful my girls participate in these traditions with me. They are the best!

My favorite things that Ellie brings to our lives:

her smile…whether she is laughing, joking and especially trying not to smile, but can’t help herself

her independence…she LOVES to drive, and drive her own car, even if a “nicer” car is offered to her.

hard work…she loves her jobs (she has two part time jobs!), earning her own $, she is paying for the majority of her humanitarian trip to Tonga this summer. She pays for her own gym membership…and GOES!

her heart…she is a loyal friend, a sweet daughter and contentious to do her best in the world. I love our evening talks and the life she is choosing for herself.

I am lucky to be her mom. ❀

50mm | f5 | 1/500 | iso100
50mm | f2 | 1/800 | iso125
35mm | f5 | 1/250 | iso125
35mm | f4.5 | 1/250 |iso250
35mm | f1.4 | 1/2500 | iso125


We had the studio light up for my nephews (here) so the teenagers (Ellie & Kate with my nieces Lauren & Rivers and their friend Johnny) decided to play. I set the camera for them and plugged in the light and they had so much fun. And I LOVED the photos they downloaded to my computer!

I honestly LOVE having teenagers so much. (I claim these nieces of mine too!) . You know when you meet people for the first time and over small talk they ask you how many kids you have and their ages, etc… When they learn I have three daughters (currently 12, 14 & 16) there are responses like-

  • wow, you have your hands full
  • there are a lot of hormones in your house
  • your poor husband
  • how are you doing?

But truly, I LOVE being a mom to teenage girls. They are independent in so many ways, which makes room in our relationship for more fun. Teenagers LOVE to have fun! I love seeing their personalities shift and change and become their own. They share more with me now, because they are deeper thinkers than they were in early elementary school. They want adventure, which stretches me out of my comfort zone…which is good for me!

  • Are they sometimes moody? yes.
  • Do they love their cell phones more than me? sometimes…ok, maybe always πŸ™‚
  • Do they have perfect grades and on a direct path to ivy-league? nope
  • Do we agree on everything? again, no

And yes, I love that too. I remind myself frequently, what I was like at their age. They are so much further ahead than I was! I have learned a bit of what is natural development at this age- how important their peers are to them and their desire to be more independent and can relax when that comes up. I have let go of the idea of wanting “perfect kids.” I really did want that when they were younger. I am so grateful that my relationships with them have taught me not only to be at peace with not having it, but I truly do not want that. Especially because no human is perfect and hiding imperfections is not a healthy way to live and weakens relationships. They have taught me so much…and we are just getting started. I feel so lucky.

Now let’s take a look at a few more of their photos:

and my very favorite…

I will be using the light box a few more times this week- photo booth for the 6th grade Valentines and I want photos on my wall over our new couch in the basement…I will share the details of the equipment AND my favorite setup for the best light next week!

the right place at the wrong time

(left) 75mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 120mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200

I was chatting at a social function last weekend and a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, asked me about life. As we chatted she mentioned my challenge to take photos every day in a congratulatory way. I fumbled around explaining nothing perfect was going on here. In fact, most of those days my photo has been with a phone…or not at all. Life got busy with my dad’s passing, Halloween, then Thanksgiving…and now Christmas. But honestly, those are excuses. Most days when I think of picking up my camera I think “I don’t know what to do” I love photographing people…but during the daylight hours I am often alone (more excuses). It’s time to watch my thoughts and exchange them with- “I know what to do” “this is fun” “I am creative” “I keep my own commitments”

Although there is much room for improvement, these photos are a result of a success. Kate and I rushed to a dentist appointment in October, forcing Sophie to miss tumbling class. We got there just in time and were told by the receptionist that I had the date wrong. They expected us one week later. Kate noticed my camera and said that we could take photos in the parking lot. She volunteered to be my subject that day. I was thrilled. Here’s to having a camera handy…and being at the right place at the wrong time.

(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 200mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200
(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200 (right) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/100 | iso200
(left) 70mm | f2.8 | 1/160 | iso100 (right) 123mm | f2.8 | 1/160 | iso100