It's no secret that photography, hired photography, is a luxury item.  It is not a must have, or a necessity (unless you are me!). It is something that is not typically on the TOP of people's priority lists.  Then factor in realities we face like - needing new tires, a water heater going on the fritz or even your kids sports and let's face it ... photos get shuffled to the bottom of the list and you find yourself saying "we will just take some good ones ourselves!" 

And don't get me wrong, you probably CAN take good ones of yourselves. Heck, I've even mastered the family #selfie which is honestly, my "go to" family photo.  And those ARE good photos.  And my firm belief is ANY photo captured, IS A GOOD PHOTO.

But I'd urge you to consider photography as an INVESTMENT.  Out of all of the goods we purchase, some frequently (um, hair color/style anyone???), THIS ONE LASTS FOR ETERNITY.  You really cannot say that about your hair color, eyebrow wax, water heater, new clothes and more.  Photos DO live forever.  They are the only tangible item that shows a record of your history.  They are the physical proof you lived and loved and enjoyed your family.  They are often the ONLY PROOF that Mom is not a fictional character behind the photos -- she gets IN THEM TOO!

In May, I made a HUGE investment in my family.  For over 10 years I'd watched the career of Tara Whitney soar.  I had known her through the scrapbooking world and always admired her style, ease and photography. I knew she was my "bucket list" photographer.  It was expensive.  And I'd be LYING if I said I didn't think bout canceling or pushing back, simply because of the money.  I had just decided to invest in myself, by opening a studio.  Money was a bit scarce and I had to scrimp and save for these photos.

Some might think this is LUDICROUS.  But I can tell you with every fiber of my being that I TREASURE THEM and it was worth every single penny.  It was such a luxury for me NOT to be taking the photos...for me NOT to be coaxing my kiddos into doing what I BE in the photo in the way I desire-authentic and real. In addition, seeing YOUR life from another persons PERSPECTIVE is humbling. It makes your grateful for everything you have in such a FRESH way.

photo by tara whitney

We aren't perfect.  And I would have loved to be 10 lbs lighter. (Wouldn't we all??? ;)) But that is precisely what I wanted to remember too -- US.RIGHT. NOW.  Us being "perfectly imperfect."  I wanted this moment in time because Zach is about to be married and on the cusp of creating his very own family.  Own now is ours...never perfect, always eventful and forever ours.

And so is yours.  YOU matter.  YOUR LIFE matters.  YOUR memories matter.  YOUR time right now matters.

photo by tara whitney

I would encourage you to look at having pictures taken as an INVESTMENT.  There are no rules, you do to have to do photos annually, you can do them as you wish but when you do DO them, INVEST.  It is worthwhile. It is something that lasts forever.  It is the greatest gift to yourself, your family and your legacy.

If your investment means choosing me, then know I feel honored and humbled and fully throw myself into doing the very best work for you and for your legacy. xo

photo by tara whitney

Studio: Est 2016

I've already mentioned that this moment, the moment of opening a real live studio space, has truly been an evolution of chasing a dream.  Sometimes, the dream was really clear.  And sometimes (those times with three babies three and under!) it seemed insurmountable.  Yet I persisted.  I've narrowed in and stayed true to my business platform.  I've trusted myself more and more over each year and I worked to build a solid base.

And as of this past weekend, it felt like it all paid off.  Granted, this is just the start of a grand NEW adventure.  It's merely another chapter in a book with 10 chapters before it.  The story, continues to unfold.  And while I'm open to that evolution, it was sure fun to take a big ole pause and CELEBRATE for a night!

 (Photo cred on left to my friend Carrie; and I cannot begin to count the amount to champagne I consumed this celebratory weekend!)

(Photo cred on left to my friend Carrie; and I cannot begin to count the amount to champagne I consumed this celebratory weekend!)

Thanks to YOU.  Thanks for sharing my name with others.  Thank you for coming back year after year.  For being excited with me and for me.  Thank you for trusting me and connecting with me.  Thank you for secretly telling me you are pregnant so I can sneak a spot on my calendar for you.  Thank you for engaging with me and making our shoots together reflective of YOU, happy and FUN.  I leave each session FILLED UP & JOYFUL.  I cannot think of a better job on this planet or one more fulfilling!  So thank you for taking this step into the next chapter with me.  I'm humbled.

note: Studio sessions are by appointment only. Although I have a new place to office & shoot I will not be there daily at this time.  On days I am there, I will have my door open so always feel free to stop by and say hello! I'll welcome you with open arms!


It's been a cool journey for PhotoGazelle.

If you've known me for any amount of time, you know that I've always lived and breathed photography.  I distinctly remember my first 110 Kodak camera and the tiny square bulb flashes I needed for it. (Dating myself much?) Then through High School I often stole my mom's SLR Minolta camera.  I didn't attend an event, without a camera by my side! (Imagine how giddy I am now that I always have a camera at my disposal ... my PHONE!)

I often photographed my friends and family.  I'm sure ANY of my brother's friends can remember their Senior Prom where I staged and photo shoot for nearly 40 people in Oak Grove Park.  That was all play and foundation for the dream bubbling inside of me.

For my 21st Birthday, my parents got me my own SLR film camera.  I WAS OVER THE MOON.  I photographed my first wedding with that camera!  With film.  Without a screen to chimp (look at the back image) at every shot!

On April 17 2005 I purchased my first DSLR body + lens. WHY on earth do I remember the exact day? Well, for one it was important to me.  And two, i was dying to get outside and shoot something - ANYTHING - and it was unseasonably beautiful here in MN so I took a walk. I remember the trees were already budding.  In Minnesota, that is certainly something to take note of. ;)

Having moved to Minnesota from Missouri the prior year I had a "why not start a business" mentality.  So I did it.  Photography had ALWAYS been my passion and I wanted to shoot less for hobby and more for passion + connection building.  Because for me, that is what is all about ... capturing YOUR connection & building a connection WITH YOU.  It goes BOTH ways and that is my most favorite aspect of my job.

Ten years went by in the blink of an eye.  Three children were added to our lives and through the flurry of activity and milestones, my camera was (and is) always present.  These little subjects became my vessel for GROWING in my craft, honing my skill and my push for pursuing my passion.  Building a growing business is HARD with little ones.  Not impossible, but hard.  When my youngest was born in 2010, I put a plan in place. "To steadily grow my business over the next 5-6 years to be a certifiable, sustainable, reputable, sought after photographer by the time he entered school." WHOA. Goals much? ;)  A slow and steady build so to speak.

The time is here.  Noah enters Kindergarten in the fall.  And on May 1 I'm entering into a lease with my first official legit STUDIO.  A giant leap for PhotoGazelle and one that I'm very proud to have happening.  Aside from raising our family I've worked very very hard to make this happen.  And I didn't do it alone. My husband has been a backbone to my success.  Never doubting, always supportive and steadfast in his encouragement.  He's watched our children while I've flown around the country attending photography workshops and tending to my business growth.  He's handled many nights with our children while I chase sunsets.  No.  I haven't done this alone and for that, I am grateful. 

I didn't necessarily envision that a studio was part of the goal but I truly felt LED to this decision and can only trust and listen to that voice.  The studio will be an extension of my current offering, used to enhance the business I've already built as well as serve as an office for me part of the time.  The Studio, in downtown Prior Lake affiliated with the Wild Ruffle boutique and steps away from my favorite shopping destination, The Vintage Gypsy, is a dream come true.  I love our little downtown! Having MY BUSINESS along this little Main Street is quite literally a "pinch myself" moment.

We "Grand Open" on May 7.  I will be there part of the day so stop by and say hello.  Friends & Family have been invited to a special celebration on Friday Night.  It will be a chance to toast to new adventures and bless this opportunity to continue to grow + flourish.  

My theme for this year is "Let your LIGHT shine!"  Indeed, It is time for my light to shine and more than anything, I want to capture YOUR shining light too.  Come, adventure with me!  Let's shine our light, together!