"You don't look depressed" | A Summertime Confession


I wasn’t sure if she meant it as a challenge, insisting I prove to her that I was indeed suffering mentally.

Or maybe a compliment, to cheer me up that at least I didn’t LOOK as awful as I felt.

With her pronouncement I shrunk further into my isolation.

It hadn’t been difficult to tell her a couple weeks earlier that I was having a hellish summer and that my mental state was fragile, taxed, teetering. I’ve been fairly open about my mental health struggles after the suicide of my mother and have spent a great deal of time trying to #smashthestigma. She too had confided in me that she suffered from Postpartum Depression after the birth of her first child. So we had that in common.

What HAD been difficult was to invite her over, to allow myself to be vulnerable, to admit out loud that I wasn’t sure I could handle being alone with my children for one more day. That not only was depression something I had experienced in the past, but something that was currently creeping in, growing bigger and harder to manage.

I suppose when she arrived, this new friend of mine thought she would find me lying in bed, dishes piled high - the very picture of Depression. That must be where her comment came from: She didn’t see the outward signals of what we’ve all been told this looks like.

Here’s what I know about me: I know that I carry a significant genetic load for this particular illness. I know I experienced trauma as a child, teenager and young adult - and that those events influenced my brain development. I also know that in order to survive - I learned how to keep going.

How to go to school and make straight A’s when your parents were up all night screaming and throwing things. How to be choir president and Key Club VP and volunteer math tutor even though your mother had kicked you out and called you a bitch. I knew how to ace tests after news of another suicide attempt, another hospitalization, another stint in jail. When things felt like they were falling apart, I learned how to keep it all together.

I learned to overachieve in the face of dysfunction. To be obsessed with order to curb the chaos.

I learned to disconnect from the fear and sadness and anger that had no where to be expressed.

I learned to seek praise where I could get it - and to continually perform to reassure myself that I was worth something.

Until I just couldn’t anymore.

This is the tricky truth about people like me: the highly functioning depressed person. Because it is so terrifying to feel negative emotions, we push ourselves harder and harder to perform. Instead of noticing when this illness is flaring up and giving myself rest, asking for resources or help, I react instinctively to push harder, do more - prove to myself that I won’t end up like my mother. Prove to others that I’m worthy of love.

You see where this is going, right? Exhaustion. Depletion. Crisis.

But right up to that moment, it looks like a woman who has it all together. A successful business owner, dedicated volunteer, involved mother.

The photo above was taken in July - on my way to book club. Looking good, but feeling dead inside. I can write about it now because I’ve slowly climbed back out of that hole. With help from my husband, with a slow down in my schedule, with increased medication, with rest.

I’m trying to unlearn all those lessons that helped me survive my childhood but are no longer serving me.

Learning to listen to my inner voice - to what I need and even what I want.

Learning to respect my limits - not berate myself for having them.

Learning to give myself love, mercy, grace.

It’s HARD work to undo years of conditioning. It’s hard to sit with grief, with anger, with fear and to hear them out. It’s actually very hard to be kind to myself. But with practice these are skills I am developing. I hope that you are too.

Whatever you are facing, I wish you compassion and peace and courage. You deserve it, and so do I.


P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling to get through the day, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Your life matters, and you are never alone.

P.P.S. Check out the work of my incredible friend, Mariangela. Faces of Fortitude is a beautiful photography project dedicated to creating a safe space to discuss mental illness, resilience, and to honor life and loss.

Tessa Turns 1 | Seattle Family Photographer


There is so much to say about this session. So many thoughts about my best friend’s youngest turning a year old. Katie and I have been mothers together since the early days when we were hauling strollers up subway stairs and sitting in exhausted silence while the babies did NOTHING on the floor and we wondered if we’d ever be mentally alive again. And now we are older, softer, living on a different coast and marveling at how time can crawl and be a thief all at once.

When my friend told me that she wanted to book a session to capture this particular moment in time, my heart leapt. THIS. This is motherhood frozen. Kissing the fingers, squeezing the thighs and really breathing them in. Teaching them to clap and point and know what it is to be loved.

This is the relief of realizing that newborn exhaustion does not last forever, and the crushing heartache of understanding that actually, nothing does.

Here’s hoping that every mother has at least one other mother she can call and sob to. Someone she can text late at night with just the words - “I CANNOT!”

A friend who loves your children and totally agrees with you that they are monsters. Pass down the clothing, pass the french fries. Make another pass around the lake and around the sun. Together we mark the milestones and swear under our breath.

We sit in exhausted silence and watch the babies grow.

Happy Birthday, Tessa. And happy transition to you, Katie.


Canalichio Family | Seattle Maternity Photographer


It’s such a pleasure to photograph families on the precipice of welcoming a new child. There’s joy and excitement, and frankly, naiveté on the part of the older sibling to be. An oldest child myself, my heart goes out to all the young ones about to be displaced as the center of their parents’ world.

Just kidding, friends. It’s true, adding another child does rock the family dynamics — but in all the best ways. Siblings are a gift to one another. A built in friend and confidant, a reliable sidekick for all the misadventures of childhood. No one challenges you and prompts your own growth quite like a brother or sister. I can’t wait to catch up with this delightful family again after baby is born and see what looks different, and what is still the same when three become four.

Fast Fact: Maternity sessions work best when you are around 32 weeks pregnant. If you’d like to schedule a session, send me a message and let’s chat about what you’d like to capture about the weeks of waiting for baby.

5 Reasons to Hire a Birth Photographer | Seattle Birth Photographer


There is so much to consider when having a baby. Where to deliver? Which care provider? Epidural or no? Doula? Birth Photographer? It can feel overwhelming, to be sure. And this is all before the baby comes and you are responsible for a new life! In my daily conversations with couples considering birth photography, there are certain themes that come up again and again.

1. Birth is a once in a lifetime event. We photograph important events—it's just what we do. It's one way we show that this moment meant something to us. Our parents posed us with prom dates, we hired photographers for our weddings, we plan to snapshot each milestone of our baby's life. What could be more important than the day of their birth? My daughter's birthing day was far more exciting and emotional than my wedding day. What I wouldn't give to have professional photographs of the first time she took a breath, the first time I kissed her face—those first moments I became a mother and my husband a father.


2. Birth photography is for you. You grew this baby inside you, you dreamed of this baby, and now you will birth this baby. There is a lot you will miss on the day you give birth. You're kind of busy having a baby! But those small details are so meaningful. I love sitting with women as they look over their birth photos. They see their own strength and fortitude in a brand new way. Many of my clients have found birth photos useful in helping them process their labor and delivery. Whether it was a whirlwind birth or long and slow, dramatic things happen during the birth process—things we don't always anticipate. My photographs illustrate beauty and provide context—often a needed healing balm for new parents. They also give you the chance to just reflect on your own incredible power. You brought a life into the world! It's an amazing feat.


3. Birth photography is for your partner. My husband was my rock during three very different labors. I've never felt so loved and so held as I did in those hours as we worked together to bring our children to earth. I still remember his steady gaze as I centered myself through each contraction. It's a look I see again and again as devoted partners prepare to become parents. When your baby is born, it's such a gift to give your partner the opportunity to be completely present and engrossed in that moment. Let me photograph your first precious minutes as a family—so you can just live them together.


4. A birth photographer brings reassurance and support. You may not know which doctor delivers your baby. Will the provider on call be the one you really like? And chances are you've never met the labor and delivery nurse who will be with you during the bulk of your birthing experience. Bringing someone along with you, someone you know and trust, someone who has spoken with you at length about your birthing desires, your fears, your hopes—it really helps you feel supported and safe. As your birth photographer I have a connection with your family and also a familiarity with the process of labor and delivery. Nothing makes my heart soar like hearing my clients say what my presence in their birthing room meant to them.

Whitney was amazing at capturing every moment, seemingly unnoticed. She has an uncanny ability of being in the space while not being distracting, and creating a soft and supportive energy wherever she is.
— Averry

5. Birth photography is about telling your family's story. I love to tell stories—whether gathered in the living room with friends, tucking my kids into bed, even on stage in front of strangers. But the stories I tell with my camera—those are honest and real and incredibly meaningful. Hiring a birth photographer is about inviting a storyteller to make art from your most intimate moments. The transition into motherhood—it's a doozy. You experience the highest highs and lowest lows. This is why I fell in love with documenting birth. There's no primping or posing or faking it. It's raw and emotional and I've never seen a more compelling story than the day a child is born.

Whitney and I connected instantly and her warm and calming presence put me at ease. All my concerns were addressed and as promised, she was an absolute ninja. I barely even noticed she was in the delivery room. And the final images? They still make me emotional. I love being able to re-live this once in a lifetime event. And seeing your birth from someone else’s perspective is quite amazing - like an out-of-body experience. We’re so happy to have had these memories preserved. I only wish Whitney was with us for Bowie’s birth as well!
— Shannon

If you're looking for a Seattle birth photographer to tell the amazing story of your child's birth, reach out and let's schedule a consultation! I look forward to capturing the beauty of your story— however it unfolds.

The first post is the hardest...

A new website, a new blog - two months into a new year. It's a lot of change. I've been away from any real blogging for a few years now. It started to feel like too much work to live my life AND present it in some beautifully packaged form. I edited my words and my photos mercilessly until they just wouldn't come anymore.

It was also a huge burden to keep my business blogging so divorced from my personal thoughts and the events of my own life. As though these things could ever be neatly separated. Being a birth photographer, a woman, a mother, a creative - it's all intimately connected.

So now I return to blogging with a promise to myself: That it doesn't have to be perfect. That it doesn't have to match some ridiculous notion of what "professional" looks or sounds like. I'm declaring this space to be about connection over perfection.

I give myself permission to show up imperfectly.

I give myself permission to play.

I give myself permission to explore creativity for the pure joy of it.

I give myself permission to make mistakes.

I give myself permission to claim this small corner of the internet as my very own. A place to connect with my people - to talk to my people.

Are you my people? If so - Welcome! I'll be showing up here the best that I know how and I invite you to do the same if you'd like. So tell me, friend, what are you giving yourself permission to do in 2018?

*Photo by Courtney Holmes Photography