5 tips to have a flawless senior portrait session

although i typically am a blog photographer, i have shot quite a few senior sessions this year & i've learned a thing or two along the way that might help you while you're planning your senior session! 


1. get your hair & makeup done professionally
hiring a hair & makeup artist can really help amplify the gorgeous features you already have! send them pictures of what you like and don't like so they can get a good idea of what type of makeup/hair style that you'll feel your best in. i also recommend using a bit more makeup than you're used to so that your facial features don't look flat in your photos. (false eyelashes usually help accent your eyes too!)


2. plan your outfits according to your personality
you want to feel comfortable in whatever you're wearing, so wear clothes that you genuinely love! if you like edgy clothes, wear something edgy! if you like simple, neutral clothes, rock the simple & neutral look! if you're feeling uncomfortable in your outfit, that will show through in your photos, so choose clothes that mirror your personality!


3. choose simple locations
your senior photos are supposed to highlight YOU, so choose locations that do just that! simple locations really point the focus of the photos to you as the subject! 


4. trust your photographer
sometimes photographers ask you to do things like, pull a tree branch near your face or sit in a really random spot, but if you trust your photographer, they can create some really great shots for you & make portraits rather than just shoot boring poses!


5. be yourself
this tip is the most important because YOU are the subject & people want to see YOU in your photos! be yourself & enjoy your session! if you have fun & be yourself, you'll look back on your photos & simply love them because they really show who you are!


hair & makeup by beauty by ty

wednesday letters: infertility: 24, sadie & parker: 0

for some odd reason, hearing “i’m so sorry but your tests came back negative” just never gets any easier. i’ll be real, when they called me this round, i was like, “alright. see you in a few days” and it wasn’t like super hard, but then it always hits me a few days later when i just realize that i really, really hate this. i don’t like doing infertility treatments. 


i don’t want to be all negative nelly, but i have to be honest, when our car broke down & we had to make a decision to get it fixed (& wait a month or two to continue infertility treatments) or do infertility treatments and work on it later, i was seriously relieved when we decided to take a break for a month or two to fix the car. 

i know it seems dramatic to talk about how i was relieved to take a break, but these dang treatments are so draining that it’s hard to want to continue. don’t get me wrong, i would love, love, LOVE to be a mom & i would LOVE to be pregnant with a babe on the way. but since pregnancy isn’t going to just happen for us, dumping all of our extra money every month into treatments that have yet to work is, well, a bummer. 


i was on twitter today & a girl was talking about how she grew up her whole life with these expectations disguised as “goals” for life & how she focused so hard on achieving all of her “goals” that once she hit them all at age 21, she felt like she had peaked in life & has had to make the realization that there is life after those milestones. 

the goals were: 
graduate high school
go to college (just go, not necessarily graduate)
get married

and that’s it. there were no plans for after those things. 

i’ve realized that my expectations and “goals” for life were basically the same. 

go to college
get married
live in a house of my own
have babies
(the last two in no particular order)

i went to college & if there ever was a place that i just did not feel like i was supposed to be there, it was college. i had such a hard time while going to college, which was weird because i didn’t struggle with the education part—i actually really love learning, i just didn’t feel like i was supposed to be there & it seemed as though everything was stopping me from progressing in college. nothing ever went quite the way that it was supposed to. (5 years of school & no associates. not for a lack of trying either. i had really great grades!)

i got married. even though after my mission, i thought it would never happen. it did & it was one of the easiest things that has ever come to be in my life. everything fell together. the way that they do when things are just right, ya know? 

i’ve yet to live in a house of my own, but it’s a work in progress. this is actually a legitimate goal. because it can be a SMART goal. (if you don’t know what SMART goals are, google it)

have babies. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. i laugh at this “goal” because as it turns out, having babies isn’t just something you can check off of a list. if you’ve been here for the last year or so, you’ll know that it’s been a rough journey of trying not to give up, learning how to keep faith & hope, & still live a fulfilling & happy life. because here’s the kicker: WHAT IF IT NEVER HAPPENS? 

now, before you prep your fingers for those comments, “you’ll be a mom one day!” “don’t give up!” “it’ll happen when you least expect it!” just wait. 


this is the second time that i’ve had to learn this lesson & i think that it’s pretty important. before i got married, i was living in my parents’ basement, working a mediocre job, going to online school in a town of 1300 people. my options for marriage were pretty limited & well, i wasn’t getting any younger (at the ripe old age of 22). i was consistently worrying about my lack of options, the fact that i was getting older & that my circumstances weren’t changing in the foreseeable future. 

then my brother-in-law sat me down & asked me what my goals + plans were for my life. i’m pretty sure i gave him a list fairly similar to the list above. & then he asked me this question: “sadie, what would you do with your life if you never got married?” 

i responded, “DON’T SAY THAT!” 

& then he said, “i’m serious. what would you do with your life if you never got married?” 

we then talked about goals that i could set to actually live life instead of just being sad that i wasn’t getting married any time soon. i set goals to go to africa (still on my list), to go on 100 dates, go to three different temples in one week, go to new york, go to hawaii, learn to use a DSLR (manual mode), go to a session of general conference, hike ensign peak, write a book, & see the great salt lake. i accomplished 8 of those goals before i got married. & i was SO happy because of it. i made goals that were actually attainable & measurable. they were goals that were fun & helped me to enjoy life & actually live

so here i am again, almost four years later, asking myself a similar question. “sadie, what would you do with your life if you never had babies?” 

& here’s my list for the next year: 

  1. pay off debt (such a fun goal… but actually, there’s quite a bit of happiness in paying off debt, so i can’t even be sarcastic about that)
  2. buy a house or apartment
  3. publish a book
  4. turn my blog into a business
  5. visit all of the temples in utah
  6. go to a drive-in movie

what are your goals? how are you going to actually live your life this year?

wednesday letters: i want to be a friend like that.

okay, i'm SERIOUSLY considering just calling these thursday letters because i seriously cannot remember to write them on wednesdays. it's unreal. but i'm not going to do that, because i'm just gonna get my stuff together & do my best to write them on wednesdays. but i digress. 

tbh, this week has been ROUGH. there have been lots of tears over our sweet mackie. however, in the same breath, i have to say that we have been so blessed this week because today will be the first day that we eat dinner at home. our family & friends have really stepped up this week & it has been incredibly humbling. we have been so grateful. i was telling parker the other day that this whole experience has made me realize how i can be a better friend. from the two year olds in our lives to the 84 year olds in our lives, we have felt love from all of you. & we are so grateful.

i've learned that empathy comes down to simply feeling the core feelings-- not necessarily understanding those feelings, but just feeling them. i learned that from 2 year olds and 3 year olds, guys. our nieces & nephews have seriously showed up in grieving with us & i am so impressed by their love. they were sad, simply because we were sad. they all wanted to make sure that we were okay & that mack was okay. their ability to love & feel empathy is incredible. i want to be a friend like that. 

we were given heartfelt & thoughtful gifts. people sent us gifts & notes because they knew we were hurting & wanted to brighten our days, even just a little bit. we're grateful for the meals, the texts, the calls, the gifts, the comments, the prayers, the pictures (our cute nephew painted us a picture to help us feel better, it was so sweet), the time you've spent with us. seriously, we cannot even begin to express our gratitude. i want to be a friend that doesn't just think about sending gifts or notes, but just does that because i'm thinking about it. i want to be the friend that doesn't ask how i can help, but just tries to help by inviting someone over for dinner, taking them dinner, sending them a sweet little gift in the mail or dropping something off to their house. it takes FIVE minutes to do any of those things but i can truly say that it makes such a huge difference. i want to be a friend like that.

like i said, we have been so, so humbled by this experience & even though we miss our sweet pup, we are grateful for the love we've felt & the spirit of kindness that has been shown to us in the last 5 days. & honestly, through our entire marriage. we have seriously been blessed with the best friends & family that this world has ever known. if you're reading this blog post, consider yourself a friend/family, because i'm definitely writing to YOU. you've all changed our lives & we hope from here on out that we can be the kind of friend that you all have been to us. 

mack; my best friend

the last 48 hours legitimately have not felt real. i’ve never had a broken heart like this before. i honestly didn’t realize how big of a role mack played in our family until we drove out of bunkerville without him. the drive home was filled with silence, tears or memories of our sweet puppy boy.


mack changed our lives. he came into our lives at one of the lowest points of both of our lives. i was desperate for something to nurture & care for. parker needed companionship that i just couldn’t give him.

mackie’s spunky personality made us laugh every single day. he was brave & confident— unless he was up against a bigger dog or a cardboard box. he was so, so smart & learned all of his tricks in one day or less. mack was the most social pup at the dog park. he would run from pack to pack & human to human just to find anyone who would give him the tiniest bit of attention. he loved playing outside & when we would just let him be, he would zoom around the yard as fast as he could.

our doodle poodle (as he was lovingly called at home) taught us so much about unconditional love. every day as we came home from work he would be waiting, tail-wagging, at the bottom of the stairs. when we would cross over the baby gate to greet our sweet mack, he would jump up and down as high as he could until we scooped him up & gave him a big hug. at night he would snuggle us just long enough for us to fall asleep & then he would walk down to the foot of the bed to get his rest for the night. he also thoroughly enjoyed waking us up every morning by stepping on our heads. (just as unpleasant as it sounds) but he was always so happy in the morning. ready for a new day of adventure with a little bit of mischief.

mackie taught me more about love & forgiveness than i have words for. i will miss his sweet smile & curious head tilt. i honestly look forward to our reunion in heaven & can’t decide who will be more excited— me or the doodle poodle. but either way, it will be the best reunion & i cannot wait. i love you forever, sweetest mackie boy.

i honestly didn’t know how much mackie filled me up until he was gone. i didn’t know the purpose he gave me. i didn’t understand how much i would miss his love. i didn’t realize that he truly was one of my very best friends.


wednesday letters: God loves you. i know it. | prepping for #ldsconf

this wednesday letter is a little different. i hope that if you've ever had experiences like this that you'll know you're not alone & that God truly does love you. 

one sunday, parker & i were sitting in sacrament meeting listening to the speakers. well, parker was listening to the speakers, i on the other hand was thinking about relief society-- absolutely dreading it. we had been in the ward for about eight months or so & every week, without fail, i would be asked by someone if we were new in the ward. (in their defense the ward was quite large & had an abnormal amount of turnover with young couples due to the fact that we lived right next to BYU campus) however, this particular week, i couldn't be asked that again. my heart started racing. i started sobbing uncontrollably & couldn't imagine anything worse than having to go to relief society that day. i pleaded to parker, asking him if we could go home after sacrament meeting was over. 

i was so embarrassed. i wasn't the kind of person who skipped sunday school or relief society. i was the girl that sat on the front row who actively took notes during every hour. but as i sat there, thinking about how embarrassed & anxious i was feeling, i realized that the note taking sadie wasn't there. she wasn't in me. i felt so lost & so unsure of everything i thought i knew. 

i thought back to my mission & the wonderful people i was able to come in contact with. about how disappointed they might be with me because my desire to go to church was fading fast. i had a hard time wanting to go to church-- even though i yearned to feel the Spirit. but every time i went to church, i couldn't feel It. i felt frustrated, alone & angry. i would go to church hopeful that maybe this week would be THE week that i would feel the Spirit again the way i used to. that maybe i would get something out of the meetings & classes that would buoy me up to make it through the week without having a breakdown. i was in the middle of the hardest trial i had ever been asked to walk through & i couldn't feel God's love. 

in church classes we would have lessons about feeling grateful, feeling joy, or simply just being happy no matter what your trials were. through these lessons, my heart would scream "BUT WHAT IF I DONT FEEL HAPPY? WHAT IF IM NOT GRATEFUL? HOW DO I FEEL JOY RIGHT NOW?" 

those questions weren't ever answered in lessons. & it took a long time for me to feel the answers come. it took a long time for me to feel the Spirit again. 

one day, as i was feeling particularly low, i tried to think of how i could just instantly feel better. and then i thought of one of my favorite scriptures. in mark chapter 14, Christ is praying in the garden of gethsemane. as He is praying, He asks Heavenly Father to take away His pain. He says, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not as i will but as thou wilt." and then He continued on in His trial in the garden of gethsemane. He felt every hard feeling. He experienced the pain, the stress, the inadequacy, the heartbreak-- everything. He felt it all. 

"Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'...  because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so... Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were With Him, April 2009

i realized that sometimes, feeling it all (or even feeling nothing at all) is part of the road we are asked to walk. but i also realized that even though i felt alone, i wasn't. there was Someone who understood my frustration, my pain, my heartache, my yearning, the loss, the desire for happy feelings, all of it. He understood & He was there walking the journey with me. even if it felt like He was staying silent, He was still walking with me. 

after i realized that the Savior & my Heavenly Father DID care & WERE listening, i started trying to listen for Them in my life. i tried to find something in each day that was a little snippet of love from Them. & little by little, each day, i found more & more. i'm still trying to find these snippets of love & be better at recognizing them, but as i try, i see them. i am not perfect. i make mistakes. i forget to read my scriptures. sometimes my prayers are quick & more like a text message than a phone call. but i know God hears my prayers. i know that He loves me. i know that my Savior walked His path alone, so that He could walk my path with me. i know that my Savior loves me. i KNOW that my Savior loves me. 

as i have thought about this post, i've thought about how other people might feel in reading it. what if they think i'm a bad person for having a hard time with church? what if they think, "but she went on a mission, how could she be struggling with going to church?" what if, what if, what if. 

but then i thought, what if someone else is feeling this way. i don't want ANYONE to feel this way. i don't want anyone to feel the shame or embarrassment i felt because i had a hard time going to church. and i thought about the things that were said & done that helped me want to continue to come & the things that were said & done that made me want to stop going. things i had said to people in the past that i wish i could take back or say differently. 

you are so loved. don't forget that. even if you're struggling, you are loved. you are good. you are blessed for trying. God loves you so, so, so much. i feel that. i know that. 

i am so, so excited for general conference. i have such a testimony of general conference. i know that no matter what  you can feel God's love for you during general conference. the Spirit is so strong & i know that even if you're unsure what to questions to ask or what you really want from life, that God will answer your prayers & help you to feel His love while you watch general conference. if you're interested in watching general conference, go here.

i'd LOVE to flood the internet with this simple graphic this weekend. if you'd like to share, on FRIDAY NIGHT (march 30) i will be sharing these to my instagram stories. i'd love it if you would screen shot from either my instastories or from here & shared a quick testimony of general conference with your friends! i know that no matter who they are or what they believe, general conference can help them in some way.