SACRIFICE by Elsie Barnes

Aryana and I met when both of our husbands were stationed in Alabama circa 2012 at a baby shower for a fellow soldier. We hit it off so well, that I became not only her photographer, but her mother’s and her sisters’. I have seen her body do some pretty amazing things throughout this time. When she became pregnant with twins, we ran out to the lake on post to capture her maternity session. As soon as they were born, we captured her beautiful babies. And shortly after that, we experimented with a boudoir session. So when I tell you she and I have done it all together, it may be an understatement.

Sweat at the Cove

She texted me early on a Saturday inviting me to join her for “leg day.” (Lets all laugh at this one!) Who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane? Crazy people. Who does leg day on their one day off? Crazy people. I am not one of those people. But when she asked if I could photograph her workout, welp, that’s definitely my type of crazy. So off to Sweat at Cove we went, camera in tow.

Watching her work was nothing short of inspirational. The grit, the strength, the sweat, it all showed that she was not just working out, but that she had something to prove. Later that evening, when I delivered her proof gallery, she wrote something that has awakened the fierce woman in me in reference to the image below. And since, I could never say what she can, I’ll let you read it for yourself.

Fort Hood Post Partum

“I get pretty emotional about this picture. This image doesn’t make me feel shame or embarrassment. I don’t feel the need to hide this from the world. This image make me incredibly proud. I’ve always felt that my fitness journey has been purely selfish. This is for ME and to make ME feel better about myself. This is for me to keep MY mental health in check. I’ve always thought of my gym time as my escape for a few hours out of the day. I saw this photo and it really put everything into perspective for me. Living a long and healthy life for my kids is what is most important for me. Being an example for my kids is important. Making sure my girls see that it’s ok to be more than what society dictates that they are “supposed” be to be is important to me. This body brought three amazing little lives into the world and I want to be around long enough to see what they are able to make of it. Embrace your scars and your stretch marks. You’ve given the world your little miracles. Be proud of what they’ve given you in return.” - Aryana Jordan

So whether you’re a mother or a father, just starting your fitness journey, or are in your prime, I want to capture this for you. I want you to look back and realize that you have always been a badass, but now you have photographic proof. Let’s capture your journey so your grandkids can remember you in your glory and not covered in a snap chat filter.


How to prepare for your Engagement Session by Elsie Barnes

EEEEEEEK!!!! You’re engaged! What a time to be alive! You’re officially a fiancé! So what next step? Well, call your mother obviously, and then tell your bestie she’s been promoted to maid of honor! But then what? Its time to share with the rest of the world, silly! And what better way to do so than by getting a professional engagement session. 


Here are some tips on how to prepare for your engagement session: 


Don’t forget to get your ring cleaned! We want to show it off!

Don’t forget to get your ring cleaned! We want to show it off!

Let me preface this by saying that this is the easiest part of your wedding planning. So NO stressing is allowed!


1.             As soon as you are proposed to, or propose, start searching for a photographer. The earlier the better. This allows you to ask friends and family for their favorite photographers, interview, budget and most of all announce your upcoming union. 

2.             Now that you have booked your photographer remember that this is about YOU! Yes you! Your silly inside jokes, the butterflies in your stomach, the people you are when you’re in your bubble. Grab a note pad and write down all of the things that make your relationship stand out from the crowd.

Do you have something that connects you as a couple? Ask your photographer to capture that detail.

Do you have something that connects you as a couple? Ask your photographer to capture that detail.

3.             Think of locations. Most photographers already have a list of favorite locations. But because this is about you, come up with a few ideas that will help bring your vision to life. For example, if you met at Target, consider it as a possible location. Or if you love Disney movies, consider have a Disney themed engagement session. I met my husband at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and I wish we would’ve done something themed around a car. 


4.             Next, what to wear! Outfits can vary depending on your style and what you would love to show off. Always choose well-fitting clothes, and colors that compliment your skin tones. If you’d like something glamorous, GO GLAM FAM! Seriously! But always remember that your outfits should be balanced. If the future bride wants to wear a sequined dress, let’s ensure the future groom doesn’t show up in khaki shorts and flip flops. 


5.             Hair and Makeup are always a plus, but not necessary. Many times, I have seen women who never get make up done, get it for their engagement session and feel insecure because of it. Remember this is about displaying who you are. This is also a great time to take your wedding makeup artist on a test run for before your wedding. 

Haven’t proposed yet? Consider hiring a photographer to capture that magical moment!

Haven’t proposed yet? Consider hiring a photographer to capture that magical moment!

6.             No fighting. Did you hear me? No fighting allowed. It’s so easy to bicker about nonsensical things when you have a timeline. I get it. But the morning of your session, remind yourself why you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. Is it their smile? Their honesty? The way they snort when they laugh? Focus on those things, I promise you it will make a world of difference when having your portraits taken. 

Its time

Its time

7.             Play. That’s sounds a bit demanding now doesn’t it? The truth is, it’s really hard to capture who you are as a couple if you just plan on posing stiffly. So instead, whisper in your partners ear, kiss their forehead, tickle, and dance like no one is watching. Your love and dynamic will shine through. And these are the images your future generations are going to treasure. 

8.             Speak up! If you feel that the poses, or location isn’t working for you, say so. Many couples aren’t comfortable with public display of affection. In those cases, try to choose locations that are isolated from crowds. This goes the same for couples who are very comfortable with the ooey gooey, these couples should also find locations away from stares and small children. 

9.             Ask your photographer if they offer any other services such as slide shows or save the dates. Many of us do and can save you a ton of time. This alone can help you stand out from your 3rd cousin removed save the dates. She got her’s from Walmart, yours will be custom. 

10.          Lastly, if your photographer doesn’t provide prints, print them yourself! Mpix is a great place to do so. Use them as part of your save the dates, as decor in your wedding, in your guestbook, as Thank You cards, Christmas cards, or decor for your new place. This moment is meant to be cherished, so have fun with it! 


Again, congratulations! This is the beginning of a wonderful adventure!

Ready to start planning your engagement session? Let’s chat!


V A C A Y by Elsie Barnes

You only get 18 summers with your kiddos before they are off to summer jobs, school, and vacations with their friends. But you also get 18 summers to record the amazing places you’ve been, and the bond you share as a family!

“Remember that one time we went to Oahu, and mom hired that crazy photographer that kept making all the fart noises and asking us to “Shaka”? (yes, that was me!) Maybe this family won’t say that verbatim, but I’m certain they will look back at their summer vacation, and realize that mom was making this memory extra special.

No matter how old they are, mom’s consider their children their babies for life. Make sure you capture every milestone your babies conquer. And better yet, hire someone to do it for you, so you too can be a part of such a special moment.

S E N I O R B E S T I E S by Elsie Barnes

True friends are never apart. Maybe in distance, but never in heart.

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C A C T I C O U P L E by Elsie Barnes

Saying “YES!” to new possibilities!

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C E L E B R A T E by Elsie Barnes


I have been sitting here for last hour trying to come up with a way to inspire you. "Why?" you ask? Because the holiday season has begun, and we can get so stressed trying to make memories for others, that we tend to forget about ourselves. I believe this stunning lady is a great example to inspire you.

Phoenix of KM Ivelisse Photography, is not only a great friend of mine, but also a fellow photographer with amazing talent. She boasted about an upcoming client that was absolutely breathtaking! When she showed me a photograph of her, I pretty much begged to come along. (I am not ashamed to admit, that I love pretty faces in front of my camera)

When I arrived, the photography session was already underway, and I found myself scrambling to pullout my gear. The sky was buttery soft, with hints of pastels the sun had blessed us with, and our gorgeous model was holding her cap and gown. Unbeknownst to me, we were capturing the  celebration her new degree in accounting. 

What a momentous occasion! After years of hard work, she was one step closer to fulfilling a dream! This was definitely a time that needed to be captured. Which got me to think, what if we all did the same? What if we celebrated our victories whether big or small with photographs? Not selfies, not pictures with our phones, or waiting on Uncle Bob to finally share them on social media, but professional portraits. It would be an amazing way to look back on your life when you aren't feeling so sure of yourself, and remember who you truly are and what you are capable of doing! 

Later that night Phoenix and I both were in awe of how many flawless images we were able to capture of her. Her skin, her expressions, her poses.... I literally could go on ALL day. During the session I couldn't stop complimenting her on how well she took direction, and how she was able to transition from pose to pose so seamlessly. She truly did make our jobs so much easier. I will admit, I edited her entire session in an hour the very same day I photographed her. Her images didn't require any special tricks, or fancy edits. She was simply made for the camera. Organically elegant. So, if one day she ever decides that accounting isn't for her, modeling definitely is! 

There you have it... your inspirational nugget! Even when you are down and out, feeling as if you have lost yourself along the way, its time to pull out some old photographs and remember who you are, and what you are made of! If you find that you don't have any of those photographs, then its time to start putting in some work, so that when you are done, your accomplishment can be captured, and I will gladly be there to photograph it for you!

Do you have a special ocassion coming up? Drop me an email and lets start preserving your special moments!

D I S T A N C E by Elsie Barnes

I am a firm believer in love at first sight. When it happens, its as if cupid himself sprinkles the room in glitter and floating hearts. Its one of the reasons I am obsessed with love stories such as this one. 


After meeting at a friend's get-together, she knew the second he walked in the room that he was meant to be hers. It took a two year long distance relationship to finally be in the very same state. I cannot a imagine a better way to celebrate such a wonderful occasion than by capturing such a wonderful reunion by yours truly.

Beach Bums Oahu

 Watching her nose scrunch up and burst into giggles every time he whispered in her ear, or when they danced to their own music at sunrise, even just how they stared at each other as if telepathically having the most intense conversation, I was drawn in immediately.  And although she may had been smitten by him first, you could definitely tell by the way he chased  her, that he too had fallen madly in love.  

love Hawaii Oahu
Oahu snuggles

I guess its true what they say.... when you know... you know.



F A L L by Elsie Barnes

If you are from the mainland, you fully understand that no matter which state you live in, you will have some sort of season change. Some states like Texas and Florida can have all four seasons in just one day, and other states like New York or Ohio, seem to have several variations of winter, and 2 weeks of summer. But when you live in Hawaii, the seasons don't change...AT ALL. 

So when I was approached by the McFarren family to incorporate fall in Hawaii, I knew I was up for the challenge. My goal was to incorporate everything that made fall cozy without drenching it in pumpkin spice. Sorry Starbuck, but some of us are just regular coffee kind of people. 


Enveloped in the orange hues of the sunset, and the tall grass of the westside mountain ranges, we trucked on to a pretty steep hill to capture our version of fall in Hawaii.


Between the military demands, a fresh surgery, kiddo's first haircut, and missing all things fall back home, the McFarren's needed a memory captured for this hectic time in their lives. They showed me that no matter what is going on in the world outside, their love for each other is all they need to continue in their happily ever after! 


It may not be chilly here, but we always find a reason to cuddle with the people we love most!


Its not too late to schedule your family portrait session before the holidays! Reach out to me at here, and lets get started on your happily ever after!

F A C E B O O K by Elsie Barnes

Reader beware: This blog may not be intended for all audiences. (And may be longer than expected)

Ok, well maybe that sounds a bit more dramatic than I intended, but I am certain that I will have plenty of folks out there on the interwebs that disagree with my recent decision to delete my personal Facebook account..wait for it... off my phone. Thats right, I still have Facebook, its just no longer on my phone.


Well, its a long and complicated history, like that the one you had with your wanna-be rapper boyfriend back in college. He, like Facebook, kept you entertained while you were bored, was easy on the eyes, and made you look great in public, but behind closed doors, left you feeling empty and depressed. Oh and did I mention can't rap? The boyfriend, not Facebook. 

Pull up a chair, and let me give you the tea.

On my personal Facebook page, I am in contact with family and friends who go as far back as fourth grade, sprinkled with some old co-workers, and a few friends of friends. But a VERY large part of my Facebook newsfeed is filled with other photographers like myself. Its one of our "community over competition" goals. I "like" your work, in return you "like" my work, and so on and so fourth, which stems from Facebook and its crazy algorithms. In a nutshell, the more people who follow you, the larger you audience, the more chances you have to be seen by someone who is looking for a photographer like yourself. Its just a game of chances, that is unless you pay to play. 

I found myself scrolling through swipe after swipe of nothing but photographers, and slowly I began to feel my light dim. And then the thoughts came pouring in..

"Wow, I wish I could do that."

"She's so lucky her kids are older/or doesn't have kids. She has so much more time to spend on her business"

"I can't compete with that!"

Do you see what I mean?  I am normally not a Petty Betty. And this is NOT community over competition. Now to my defense, this was all before my cup of coffee. But I shouldn't be feeling this way. I promise I won't go into some long spiel about women's rights, or lady bosses for goodness sake. Instead lets talk about self.

I wasn't jealous of their sessions, or their successes, or their talents. I wasn't jealous at all. Instead what was happening is that their posts were clouding my session, successes and talents. This is obviously not done deliberately like "Nany nany boo boo, Elsie is about to wake up! Lets bombard her with all of our amazingness so that she can wake up from her 3 hours of sleep in an even worse mood!" Instead I was inviting it into my creative space. My best way to describe this is imagine you have a brand new apartment that you can't wait to decorate with your Joanna Gaines decor. Your moving truck arrives at 10am, and you are so excited. You've been day dreaming for weeks about your Magnolia Farmhouse inspired home. It is going to be so awesome that even Pinterest will be knocking on your door begging to feature your home. The doorbell rings, and Debby, your roommate, arrives with boxes, and a mustard couch that smells like dead cat. Then comes Monica, who insists that all of her Bob Marley posters be hung in your dining room. Monica's boyfriend Greg, needs to leave his guitar at your place for a few weeks till he moves out of his parent's house, and lastly your best friend from middle school begs you to pet sit her parrot.  Your daydreams are not fully destroyed, but instead clouded by the stench, dreadlocks, and echoing parrot. 

Some will say, "Unfollow them." I have done that. But remember that part where I mentioned that the more people you post to, the larger your audience. Most, and by most I mean 99% of photographers, post twice, once on their business page, and then share the exact post on their personal page. So if I am friends with them, I get to see it anyways.

"Then 'Unfollow' your friend" This statement is also true. But in doing that I also miss out on life events that could be important to me. 

"Why are you on Facebook so much? You must be addicted!" Aren't we all? What do you do when you are watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the 18th time today, thats right, get on Facebook. Or while you're waiting at the doctor's office? Get on Facebook. Maybe you are on your lunch break and don't want to talk to people... you guessed it, you get on Facebook, or Instagram, or twitter. You go to social media to get away from personally having to socialize. 

So the answer was to delete it off my phone. Hindering the availability and access to the one thing that is dimming my light. In addition to realizing that I am most definitely not in the market for a photographer, and am not the ideal client of those marketing to me. 

Please don't misunderstand me, following other photographers is great for inspiration. But inspiration can be a tricky little devil. What was once inspiration can easily become mimicking. I've seen this happen first hand when I suddenly began to second guess my editing style. I attempted to edit light and airy, or dark and moody, I even gave the film edit a try just to fit in with the latest and greatest. And when none worked, I realized that the influence of others was scribbling all over my love of color. I LOVE bright colorful photographs. The kind of colors that scream "SEE ME." So now, I will go back to SEEING ME, and will not spend hours scrolling through THEM. (See what I did there!)

So good-bye Facebook app. Aloha, Hasta luego, Bon voyage!  

*Wish me luck*


S E A R C H I N G by Elsie Barnes

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

Its that time of year again, when your local Buy Sell Trade social media pages are flooded with posts in search of the perfect photographer for special events. Most people go to friends and family requesting referrals from previous photographers, while some, especially military families, search for photographers from their community. And although word of mouth is a wonderful way to get more business, we, photographers also rely on answering such posts ourselves. But the problem I have encountered when viewing these posts is that they normally go something like this:

"Hi, I am looking for a photographer to capture my daughters first birthday/maternity/birth/family/anniversary/wedding that doesn't cost an arm and a leg"

Sounds legit. The cost of an arm and a leg these days is pretty expensive, let alone a kidney or an eye. Even giving up your first born may be more affordable. But I digress.

So, you have a special occasion that you would like to have captured by a professional, so that you can focus on all the other chaos and enjoy being IN the moment. Its not a tough request. But soon, your inbox is filled with every photographer in your area, with work varying in expertise. Suzy from down the block got a new camera for Christmas, and loves taking pictures. She is offering 100 photographs for $30, while Deborah has been in business for 7 years, offers 5 photographs for $500. And as you contact just about every photographer in your state, which can be exhausting, your really just want to throw in the towel and scream. Why does this process have to be so overwhelming? What does all of this photographer jargon mean? Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn't have to be such daunting task. (No worries, I will save the "Why Suzy and Deborah charge differently" for another blog post. Instead, lets focus on getting the RIGHT photographer for YOU.

Lets start off by figuring out what YOU want. 


Figure out how much you are willing to spend. You can spend a lot, or you can spend close to nothing. Stating "reasonably priced" or "doesn't cost an arm an a leg" doesn't give your potential photographer a price reference. If you only have $250 set aside for a portrait session, state it. This will weed out photographers who's packages start at $350. This also can open up potential sales, or mini sessions from photographers who give better quality work, but are currently looking for certain session to add to their portfolios. 

What if you have $50 for your maternity session? Well, this can open endless possibilities also if you are flexible. A simple post stating "Anyone portfolio building for Maternity" or "Any photographers doing model calls for Maternity Sessions" will attract photographers who are willing to give free or drastically discounted rates just for the practice. Model calls (portfolio building sessions) require Model Releases (The ability to use your images for their business promotion). If you are willing to adhere to their requests, whether date, location, attire, or look, you can easily walk away with great photographs for a fraction of the normal price with the option of purchasing more.

What if you have $2,000 set aside for your portrait session? This can weed out photographers too. With more money you have budgeted for your session, less and less photographers will contact you. Why? Because the more expensive your session, the better customer service and quality is expected. This may not be necessarily true since sole proprietor business tend to correlate with your photographer's personality. But as a general rule, if your photographer's market is Target, they normally don't seek William and Sonoma clients. And although we all want clients with large pocketbooks, large pocketbooks expect a higher level of service that some are not prepared to deliver. Does this mean that your $150 photographer cannot satisfy a $2,000 client? Not necessarily, but its like asking a the Honda dealership to provide the same service and driver as the Rolls Royce dealership. Honda's makes great cars! They will get your from point A to point B with comfort, but do they come with an umbrella that pops out the side of the door? Nope. Its up to you to decide if that umbrella is necessary.

Package Type

In the business we have what the industry calls "Shoot and Share/Burn" and "In Person Sales" (I will most likely get burned at the stake for this, but its best that you know so you can ask for what you need. 

"Shoot and Share/Burn" is a photographer that delivers your images to you via electronic media, whether it is on a CD, a USB, or digital download. Most of the time they keep copies of them in their archive, and allow you to print your images through a 3rd party lab. 99% of us absolutely despise when you print at big box retailers since there is absolutely no love and care to the amount of work your photographer has put into your session, but they do the trick with quick turn around times if you absolutely need it. 

"In Person Sales" is a photographer that can give you digital media and prints of your portrait session. This process is a bit more thorough, and usually a bit more expensive. But the greatest part is that you don't have to do any work. Your photographer is in charge of developing and delivering prints of your session to your home. Some times this involves several meetings and a more in depth assessment of your needs. Think of it as well rounded customer service experience.

And then you have photographers that incorporate multiple versions of both. The possibilities really depend on how your photographer does business.


"I only need a few pictures" 

A few may mean 5 or 15 images. So instead of digging through photographer's packages, state it upfront. Mini sessions are your best bet because they usually start at 3 images, and base line packages usually start at 10. If you are solely looking for 1 image, you will be guilty of wasting someone's time. Location scouting, driving, editing and actually photographing your family is not worth one single image. So its best take advantage of mini sessions. 


Do you require your photographer to have 5 years experience, or specialize in a genre? Do they need to have military base access, or be insured? Would you prefer they be licensed, or have a legitimate website? If these specifications are important to you as a client, ask for them. And never be afraid to decline a photographer because they do not meet these qualifications. I promise you, it will make life much easier on you. And never be afraid to look at their reviews whether they are Facebook reviews, The Better Business Bureau, or Yelp.  Hiring someone to capture your family's memories is as important as the memories themselves. 


So what if you found the PERFECT photographer, and they don't have the date you need available. Ask for a referral. Great customer service goes beyond the clients that hire us. Besides, we usually travel in clans. So although I may not be able to service your needs, my dear friend may have that date available, or someone in a group I belong to with a similar style and price range

"So what should my post look like?" you ask?

Be specific! "I'm looking for a photographer available during thanksgiving week to photograph my family of 6 with 3 dogs and a donkey while we weave baskets underwater. I would love an album along with images to share with family and friends. My budget is $73.82." 

Now photographers that specialize in large families with an expertise in underwater photography and packages that start at $50 will send you messages, while newborn calf photographers move on to the next inquiry. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy.


Do you have any more questions? Send them my way!

Or in the comments below!


L A N I K A I by Elsie Barnes

Before my husband and I packed up our belongings in preparation for our new duty station, we were frantically searching for our next home in Oahu. We searched the internet high and low, attempting to find a home that would satisfy our wishlist. A friend referred us to an awesome realtor who had built a Facebook page for military families moving to the island. This page was a lifesaver. The community that participated in this group were a wealth of knowledge, answering even the silliest of questions. Days before we had arrived on the island, Brandy Saulnier of Military Home Source had already a list of homes for us to view.

We arrived on a Friday, exhausted, sleep deprived, and hungry. By Sunday, Brandy was already at our hotel room and on a mission to find our new home. She picked us up, and immediately we were smitten by her. She treated us like family, and showed us the true meaning of Aloha. The car ride was filled with cultural education, myth busting, and so much laughter as we traveled the majority of the island. We truly enjoyed her company, and my daughter adored "Ms. Brandy." As the weeks progressed our friendship grew. I had become in charge of caring for her kiddos, and she had lent us her van so that my husband have transportation for work. Little did we know that Brandy was not only a realtor, and admin for the Facebook group, but also a host of a radio show, and participates in several events around the year helping our veterans and their families. Its a very impressive resume to say the least. To this very day, I am in awe of everything she is able to accomplish while raising a family. She is definitely the definition of #bossbabe. I look back at it now and I am grateful she was our very first friend, and we are truly indebted to her and her family for welcoming us into their hearts and home.

Fast foward a year later, and the dust has officially settled. From game night, to family dinners, and spending holidays together, we always find a way to hang out and spend quality time with her, but had yet to work with each other. You can imagine my surprise when she requested a family's portrait session. This was the perfect opportunity for me to repay her for all of the wonderful things she did for my family when we arrived. 

Lanikai, her favorite beach, would be the setting for her portrait session. Enveloped in cotton candy skies, teal water, and baby powder sand her family and I were ready to capture the dynamic that makes her home so special. The session was flawless, except for the occasional "Don't step on the jellyfish!", which I'll admit was fascinating to see unclose for the first time. We had such an amazing sunset, that it definitely didn't feel like work at all! 

There's a quote that says "Some people are put in your life for a reason or a season." I truly hope that she and her family stay in our lives for a lifetime. 


I N S P I R A T I O N by Elsie Barnes

Have you ever been in a state of cloudiness, so stale, mundane and stagnant that you don't see how you're going to make a way out of it? As an artist and a right-brainer, the constant search for inspiration is needed like that morning coffee, or salsa on tacos. There is just no way around it. You NEED it. So we search. We search for it in our surroundings, in other artists, and often times, in our everyday norms. I found myself wallowing in my cloudiness yet again, searching for something, anything to speak to me, to guide me, to inspire me. And like a 2x4 to the face, there she was, my neighbor.

Amanda, and her perfect 30 week belly just so happened to be outside playing with her kiddos while I was on the way to my mailbox. We chatted for a bit, but instantly there was a connection. She too was a photographer, on the island temporarily, while balancing being a mom of 2 kiddos just like me. Rapidly our friendship grew, and we have been pretty much inseparable since. #luckyme

Due to our need to feed the hungry creative beast, we set out to capture the amazing sunsets our  home has to offer. Within seconds, we were giggling little school girls sharing ideas and cameras. Our instant connection was the tip of the iceberg. I soon found out that Amanda was a perfect model, needing hardly any direction, and easily feeding my camera with still after still of remarkable images. 

With every click of the shutter, the light changed giving birth to new and exciting ideas. So instead of treating this fun impromptu session like one of my normal sessions, I decided to throw away cohesiveness between images, and edit them as they spoke to me. Every image has its own flavor, its own mood, is own way to draw you in. Artist should never be confined to a box, and I realized that the best way to break out of it, is to break all the rules.  

I am so very excited to see what new adventures Amanda and I indulge in! To keep up with Amanda, visit her here, and please let her know I sent you!


LULAROE by Elsie Barnes

I'll admit it. I have never been a fan of MLM companies. I never saw what the big deal was. I grew up accompanying my mom to MaryKay and Tupperware parties, and truthfully they just seemed like an excuse for woman to get together and vent about everyday motherhood, and buy products that claimed to make their lives easier. Were these products really all they were cracked up to be? To the mind of a 9 year old, probably not. But now as a mother myself, any excuse to get out of the house and spend some good girl time is well worth it. 

When Katreena approached me requesting brand photography, I was so excited to work with her I had forgotten to even ask what type of business she owned. When she mentioned LuLaRoe, I was a bit hesitant. Not because of the brand, but more because I didn't have a clue how I would come up with models for such a shoot. I then realized that her business didn't need models. It needed women. Just women. Women of all shapes and sizes, who just wanted to be comfortable and feel confident. Katreena was this model. She loved this product so much that she was willing to model it herself. That might not seem like such a daunting task, but most of us women are quick to hide or flee from being the center of attention as soon as a camera appears. She quickly showed me she was the real #MVP.

We chatted about the outfits she planned to wear and different locations while preparing for our our session, and the more I spoke to her the more I realized how passionate she truly was about this clothing line. Katreena believes in empowering women, and boosting their confidence, whether you are a size 2 or a size 22. We, women did not have to be plagued by retail stores' shady sizing, warped mirrors, or skin tight, no pockets having attire. Instead, we could hang out at a friend's house, try on their racks full of clothes in private without any sales lady with a key and a limit on how many items you could try on. Its like a Friday night at your bestie's house without all of the pressure to be as skinny or fit as the girl in the next stall. 

As we began shooting, I instantly saw the transformation in her. Katreena went from a woman who admitted to being horrible in front of the camera, to a woman who was beaming from every pore. She didn't need to model, she just needed to be herself, comfortable in the clothes she was in. And that folks, is the best marketing I have ever seen. 

I quickly learned that this veteran, who while serving had been a medic, really loved helping those in need. She is what we call a badass! And was now in the process of spreading that type of encouragement towards other women.

So yes, now I fully understand why Katreena stopped selling LuLaRoe, and instead started building confidence. 

LuLaRoe Oahu Katreena

Have you been on the fence about LuLaRoe? Check out Katreena, and see why she is taking the island by storm!


LuLaRoe Oahu Collage

Whether you are a mompreneur, small business, or thinking about opening up your own Etsy shop, brand photography can do wonders in reaching your ideal clients. Lets schedule a date for some coffee and chit chat about what makes your business so awesome! 

GINGER by Elsie Barnes

I met him at the Waianae Library Story time, held every Tuesday. He and his mommy sat next to my daughter and I. He had fiery red hair and little golden speckles that laid across his nose and cheeks. His hazel eyes caught me glancing, and he immediately covered his face in his mother's chest. 

Noticing him is an understatement. I stared. I stared HARD. He was breathtaking. He was beautiful. His name was Cael. My attempt to not make him uncomfortable was useless. He knew I was almost breaking my neck to just catch another glimpse of all of his cuteness. And before story time was over, I made sure to tell his mommy that I wasn't a stalker, but instead a photographer. In other words, a stalker with a camera. Her son had captured my heart and I needed to have him in front of my lens. 

Fast foward a few months, and his mommy and I are now good friends. He has spent afternoons at my house. And I am proud to say that my arms have cuddled him to sleep. My daughter is smitten by him, and considers herself his big sister. And although my dog isn't too fond of him, he is definitely part of our family.

Now, it doesn't rain often on the west side of Oahu, but when it does, the clouds turn amazing shades of golden cotton candy. This was the perfect setting for Cael and all of his gorgeousness. I was elated to be able to see the sun reflecting off of his curls, and boy it sure didn't disappoint. Although he was much more concerned about the rocks he found on the ground, and ensuring the high grass didn't caress his skin, he gave me better photographs than I could've imagined. 

Children have always had a soft spot in my heart. I truly enjoy capturing their personalities and telling their story. They will never be as young as they are today. Tomorrow they will learn a new word, be one day closer to their next birthday, and little by little grow more independent. So while your phone is full of the everyday funny things they do, make some time to contact a professional to capture memories of all of their little details. Their future prom dates will thank you!

Are you ready to get started? Click here! And let me know when we can get you scheduled!

Still undecided? Why don't you stop by and see other gorgeous faces I have photographed over here!

CAKE CAKE CAKE by Elsie Barnes

I remember being asked as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up. The answer would change every couple of years. A teacher, a reporter, an architect, even a nun. "A NUN?" you ask? Yes a nun, because if you think about it, you'd commit yourself to this great guy albeit having horrible taste in shoes, he was always around, and gave you 100% of his attention. You got to hang out with a bunch of awesome women every day. And the best part, you always had something to wear that never required thought or accessories for that matter. Then I realized that a large part of me wanted to be a mom, and becoming a nun quickly became a useless idea. 

I few years later while chatting with my grandmother, she told me that I could be every part of me when I grew up. And although I didn't fully understand what she meant, I sure did make it happen. I have been a telephone operator, a bartender, a nurse, an athlete and now a photographer. The truth is, when you have a passion for an art, you tend to follow it regardless of what the world puts in front you. Some call it fate, others call it destiny, I call it your journey.

Plot twist, this blog isn't about me! Had you going there for a minute! 

ahem...This past weekend, I was invited to photograph Marian Hills of Our Treats CupOGRAPHY for branding photography. She owns and operates a baking and photography business all while being a military spouse. Talk about #goals! Upon arrival to her home, I was already salivating for some sugar! If you could be paid in cake, my second favorite guilty pleasure, my first being tacos, wouldn't you? Marian introduced me to her sweet friend who would be helping, and showed me two cakes that had been handcrafted the night prior specifically for this shoot. OH! Were they tempting!  My amazing blonde bombshell assistant, Ketino of Ketino Photography,  and I began the process of capturing the best images that would represent Marian and her brand. Amazingly, what was meant to be a quick shoot, ended in creative minds covered in sprinkles and flour! Who needs pillow fights when food fights are so much better! 

On my drive home, I thought to myself, "She would be the ultimate wedding vendor!" She could provide the cake and the photography! Thats one hell of a deal. Or she could be a triple threat and DJ too! But just the thought of having to run back and forth from the DJ table to change the song, while still trying to capture those sweet moments would be a tough job even Inspector Gadget couldn't handle. Go Go gadget arm! (If the theme song to Inspector Gadget is now stuck in your head, your welcome. If not, click here, and again YOUR WELCOME!)

Either way, I appreciated her genius, and her ability to pursue two loves at once.

If you find yourself looking for a way share your passion with the world, S.T.I.L.L. Photography would be thrilled to provide photographs that represent you and and your brand! Shoot me an email at


GLAM by Elsie Barnes

I have been stuck in a rut, both personally and professionally. Three months after giving birth to the happiest little boy on earth, I felt stagnant. This wasn't a baby blues, or a postpartum depression situation, but more of a "Stella lost her groove and its probably hidden somewhere in between the couch cushions", I just hadn't gotten up to check. If I had checked sooner, maybe I would've found the million dollars I hid there a few years back, but I was too sleep deprived to get up.

Then I saw it! A post by Noelle Herring of Sweet Rain Media proposing a Glamour Shoot out for photographers, which included professional Hair and Makeup by Whik'd Hair and Makeup Hawaii, and gorgeous floral crowns by Creative Concepts by Jeff . Noelle along with Lisa Lantz Photography and Chelsea Little Photography, organized an event specifically for us photographers. The premise was simple, instead of hiring models, we the women always stuck behind the camera would get dolled up and step in front of the camera. It was PERFECT, and just in time for Mother's Day. 

When the day finally came, I couldn't contain my excitement! A day away from being "Mommy", and a few hours to be S.T.I.L.L. Photography, and Sasha Fierce. (Yes, I know that Sasha is Beyonce's alter ego, but mine isn't that creative. If my alter ego had to choose a name, it would probably be something like "Londyn Rose" or "Maria Conchita" both of which sound like they should be a in a soap opera with very few lines and tacky outfits.) So Sasha it was and all of her fierceness.  

The green dress. Those that know me, know that I am NOT a fashionista. I wear shades not colors. The majority of my closet is filled with black, and not even cool, artsy trendy black, but more like a please-don't-notice-my-existence black. So when the other photographers suggested I wear an emerald green dress, with a cinched waist and had a very low cut, I just about had a full on anxiety attack. "THIS is not ME" I thought, and am certain I voiced it a few hundred times. But I realized I hadn't felt "me" in months. At the moment I was just wearing a very gelatinous body suit with dimples and tiger stripes, those that would disappear when I woke up from the newly mother of two dream.  But after much coaching, I finally convinced myself that I wouldn't turn into some green alien from outer space, go into anaphylaxis shock, or look like the green girl M&M for wearing the dress, so I wore it. The internal battle to just stick to my normal black was beaten by a chorus of Elsa's "Let it Go."

Then came the makeup. I am a foundation and eyeliner chick. Not because I think I am naturally beautiful, but more like I am seriously makeup impaired. No amount of YouTube tutorials could teach me hand-brush coordination. So, as I sat in the Makeup artist's chair, she casually asks me what color I was wearing, which I grudgedly replied "green" and what type of makeup I would like. Then Elsa began to sing that annoying song in my head once again, and I decided to not decide. "You have creative freedom" I said, praying and hoping I wouldn't regret this decision. I realized that those are the very words EVERY creative loves to hear. When we hear those words, it sounds like sweet nothings being whispered into our ears. More like "If you eat donuts and tacos all day for the next week, you will lose those stubborn 20lbs." Heavenly right!? I over analyzed every stroke of her brush, and imagined I would either look like a homeless drag queen who just broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, or maybe Sasha Fierce herself, there was no in between. When she passed me the mirror to view myself I stared at s woman I had never met before. "Sasha? Londyn? Maria?" But none responded. "Elsie? Is that your girl? You clean up well!" Its was a pretty awesome confidence booster. The grocery bags under my eyes had disappeared, my worry wrinkles were diminished, and I had color on my cheeks like a freshly in love school girl. So I did what any girl would do, I took a selfie. Because I'm just a girl, standing in front of my phone, asking the camera to love me.

Then the real fun began. One by one, each photographer experienced their transformation. Some accepted it with open arms, and others such as myself, were still figuring out how to strut their stuff like a newborn calf. But it was beautiful. Each woman bloomed into an extension of who they are and my shutter finger began to itch for a shoot. I made my way slowly around the office building grabbing a model at a time. Posing, directing, assisting and shooting to my happy little heart's desire. I was no long that poor unfortunate soul waiting to be reminded of my passion. I was now in full photographer mode summoning my inner  Sue Bryce . I soon saw that everyone felt like me. This may or may not be "you" but as an artist, we see way more than the mirror reflects. 

On my way home from my supernatural high, I couldn't wait to share the day with my husband, and kept thinking of all of the images I would get to play with for the next few days. As I entered my home I was met by my honest 3 year old daughter who quickly said "Mommy, why do you have spiders on your eyes? You look weird." I chuckled. And thanks to her, I realized that messy bun, yoga pants, coffee breath Mommy is the person she loves. But I needed it, the day of pampering, the day to be Elsie and not just "Mommy." My job now was to embrace her, and not neglect her. In the meantime, I would sit and edit photographs I had taken so that these wonderful women I had met also didn't forget or lose themselves ever again either. 

So what's the moral of the story? Wear the green dress. Let someone make decisions for you. Try something new. But most of all, get your picture taken so that you can remember that "you" you found while not looking for her. If you need to find this girl sooner rather than later, shoot me an email at and lets chat. Let me show you what I see! Together, we can make magic!

Want to see some of the photographs I was able to capture? Click here!

A huge thank you goes out to : Noelle Herring, Lisa Lantz, Chelsea Little, Rebecca Forgette, Sarah Obringer, Melinda London, Ketino Terekhov, Danielle Cain-Stone, and Jeff Castre.

Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful
— Sofia Loren