Hannah Nielsen » Documentary Family Photographer Seattle Portland and Worldwide

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This morning I woke up without an alarm, pulled the blankets up to my chin, and informed my husband that I wasn’t getting up until there was coffee. He’s an early riser, and having slept in a bit, was happy to oblige. I laid in my warm bed for awhile, stretching out and reveling in the comfort and the tiny sliver of sunshine coming through the crack in the curtains.

My mind went, of course, to race day. We leave for Kona tomorrow and what we’ve been working so hard for the last five months is finally becoming a reality. Between my husband and I, and all of you, we have raised over $11,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I’ve met some incredible people who I absolutely adore (you know who you are). And even more importantly, I’ve challenged myself beyond what I ever though possible.

When I signed up for Team in Training I had no idea what I was doing. I’d never had a swim lesson. The last bike I’d owned was white with pink and orange splatter paint, a basket with flowers on the front and the brakes that you had to pedal backwards to stop (I was 11). Anyone who knows me knows that running is not my strong suit. And transitions? What in the world is a transition? I kept thinking, “Am I crazy? What makes me think I can do this?”

Today I think about race day, and while I’m nervous and agonizing over the silliest things, I know with confidence that I can do it. Physically I can conquer the course and cross off my bucket list item of finishing a triathlon. This wouldn’t be the case if it weren’t for Team in Training, my amazing coaches (Cathy and Karin), mentors and team captains (Joyce, Jerilee, Ande, and Jenn), teammates, and of course, my husband who was with me every step of the way. It also wouldn’t be the case if I hadn’t learned to push myself past the point I thought was possible. Past discomfort, tiredness, lack of motivation, and so on. To change my mindset from “I wish I could do that” to “I’ll do that today…and maybe a little bit more”. To go from getting through the required,  to striving for the most I can possibly do.

So I just want to say, to those of you who wonder if you can do it (whatever “it” may be), you can. You can accomplish anything you put your heart into….

and it’s not even race day yet. There will be another speech to come, I’m sure.

If you wouldn’t mind, on Sunday morning, please take a minute to think of me. Hope for no flat tire, crazy wind, sunburn, mouth full of salt water, or dehydration. Hope for sea turtle sightings, a gentle breeze, stamina, strength, and a nice Mai Tai with a finisher’s medal around my neck.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me over the last 20 weeks. It has been one of the best experiences of my life…and it’s hard to believe the best part is still to come.


Photo from our last beach vacation in Grand Cayman

  • March 18, 2013 - 4:44 pm

    Whitney Lane - I`m so excited for you! Love how life just keeps on surprising us with ups and downs and big challenges and we just have to get out of bed and meet them. 😀ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    Rebecca Anne - Wow, best of luck! That is quite the adventure to be taking on. I don’t think I could do it myself. What wonderful things you are doing!ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 4:59 pm
  • March 18, 2013 - 5:19 pm

    lin - what you are doing is a great cause. Best of luck!ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 6:19 pm

    Amy - Good luck to you!!!! This is amazing! Can’t wait to hear about it after the race 🙂ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 6:36 pm

    Amanda - Good LUCK!!!! : ) Good for you!!ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 6:43 pm

    Barrie Wedding Photographer - That’s so awesome, good for you and good luck!! Looking forward to the results 🙂ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 7:53 pm

    Ann - You about to set sail on an amazing adventure!!!! All the power to you! The sky’s the limit!!!!ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 10:29 pm

    Jete Devisser - WOW!! You’re such an inspiration! I’ve tried training for a 5k in the past, and failed twice. I’m now 6 weeks into my third attempt (this time with a group, and it’s a 10K), and I’m holding out!! It’s so exciting. Congratulations on your hard work and persistence and best of luck on race day!!ReplyCancel

    • March 18, 2013 - 10:31 pm

      Hannah - You can do it!!!! I had to try multiple times to do my first 5k a couple of years ago, then I jumped right to a half marathon (don’t ask me why…I hate running haha!)…Once you really commit to it, it won’t be an option anymore. You’ll just insist on being better! I LOVED the feeling of running one more mile than I’d ever run before 🙂 You got this!!ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2013 - 12:28 am

    Michelle S Hanks - Wow, this is an awesome thing to strive for. Not being athletic myself, I admire you and congratulations on not giving in to the “I can’t go any further” voice.ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2013 - 8:44 am

    Julianna Rennard - Can I just say, WOW!!! I’m so excited that you did a triathlon. I couldn’t ever imagine doing one and now I’m encourage to think about. Thank you so much!!ReplyCancel

I met Julie in January when we both attended Jasmine Star’s CreativeLIVE class. She is from Calgary (where Kyle was born :)) and her cute little Canadian accent charmed me right away (not to mention that we bonded over Halls cough drops). When we returned to CreativeLIVE a few weeks ago she brought her husband Steve with her. Man I love these two! They are the amazing photographers behind Julie Hill Photography. Be sure to check them out!

I had a great time chatting with them over beers and snacks after the class, and quickly made a plan to meet up with them to visit some Ballard breweries with my husband before they headed home a few days later. The next morning it occurred to me that we should do a photo shoot. I adore shooting couples and can’t get enough. We got SO lucky that afternoon with some coveted Seattle sunshine and had a great time at Discovery Park.  These two were easy going, silly, and clearly in love. I enjoyed every minute with them.

Steve and Julie, thank you SO much for coming out to play! I am totally going to take you up on your offer to shoot us in the mountains when we come see you!


  • March 14, 2013 - 2:28 pm

    Whitney Lane - I need to get my ReSTARt photoshoot on! THese are gorgeous guys both the images and the couple obvs!ReplyCancel

    • March 14, 2013 - 2:39 pm

      Hannah - You can shoot me with my husband! 😉ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 2:36 pm

    Angela - What a great location and awesome couple! Beautifully done, Hannah!ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 2:43 pm

    Jete Devisser - Love those backlit ones!! I love how you captured such a connection between them – beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 3:22 pm

    Amy Cheshire - Love these two! I had the pleasure of shooting their wedding! You captured them so well 🙂ReplyCancel

    • March 14, 2013 - 3:32 pm

      Hannah - Awesome! I need to look at their wedding photos!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 5:22 pm

    Alaina Bos - They are so freaking adorable! What a beautiful sunset too! You rocked this session, big time!ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 9:15 pm

    Gretchen Korf - Love birds! It’s so awesome to see your beautiful images of this fun fun fun couple!! Great work.ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 9:47 pm

    Alisha - Love these “moments” you have captured/created 🙂 absolutely adorable!!!ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    Jade - Great light in the last one. Love them all – good work!ReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2013 - 8:28 am

    jenn - hannah, gorgeous work!ReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2013 - 8:59 am

    Emily - Lovely work! Where is this location?ReplyCancel

    • March 15, 2013 - 11:15 am

      Hannah - Discovery Park in SeattleReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Michelle S Hanks - That top image is stunning. I love your dreamy style and it feels very intimate. Great job!ReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2013 - 5:58 pm

    Stacy - Love!!!!!!!!!! Super beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2013 - 9:18 pm

    Erin - Great job! Beautiful light!ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2013 - 8:40 am

    Jenna Leigh - Love seeing these two in front of the lens, what gorgeous light and that last shot is just amazing! Great job Hannah!ReplyCancel

365 Project Week 2…I didn’t struggle with taking the images, only with posting them. Hopefully I’ll get better as time goes on!


{Androidography, run this way, mirror, creativeLIVE, tourist, tiny bubbles, Android fail – Amaluna}


  • March 13, 2013 - 4:57 pm

    Jeremy - I love the night shot in Seattle, as much as I love living in a rural area I sometimes miss the opportunity to take night shots/cityscapes. Is the shot of the beer done with a Macro there’s so little DOF there. Great work again.ReplyCancel

    • March 13, 2013 - 9:23 pm

      Hannah - I rarely take advantage of the awesomeness of this city! So cool. The beer shot was done with the Tamron 28-75mm No macro 🙂ReplyCancel

I’ve been waiting for a long time to share this because I had to wait for the adoption to be finalized (I can only imagine the waiting Kortney and Jon had to do!) This sweet little family had only been together a couple of months when I shot their Red Thread Session but the bond was clearly apparent to me. Caleb found his Mommy and Daddy!

Jon and Kortney first saw their son’s face on April 6, 2011. Caleb was an adorable six month old baby boy growing up in South Korea, and they instantly fell in love. Jon and Kortney immediately began preparing for his arrival. While waiting to bring Caleb home they sent nine care packages and received thousands of photos and even video of their little boy growing up half a world away. Because of international politics they had to wait 15 months before they received permission to travel to Seoul to bring Caleb home. Finally, the new family of three arrived back in America in July, 2012, and Caleb’s adoption was finalized in Feb, 2013. On that day Caleb not only became a US citizen but legally became Jon and Kortney’s son.

I was so honored to shoot their first family photos! Adoption is a truly amazing thing, and this forever family made my day!!



There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of  time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break.”  This proverb is particularly true for adoptive families, and that is where the name for Red Thread Sessions came from.

I, in connection with Red Thread Sessions, provide free photo shoots to adoptive families. For more information email me or check out Red Thread Sessions



Thirty-two is not a milestone birthday. There’s  nothing particularly special about it. But when I turned 32 last Saturday, I knew I wanted to make this year different. My business is changing (more on this soon). I’ve moved into a new house. I’ll be finishing my first triathlon in less than a month (what?!). It’s going to be an exciting year. I want to document the whole thing…so this is the year. I’m finally committing to a 365 project.  I’ll be taking a photo a day, every day, until my next birthday. This is the first of what will be weekly Friday posts with the week’s captures. Feel free to join me on this journey! I’d love to see your 365 project!


{favorite hands, clean wine, sleepy head, pretty hot chocolate, rainy practice, spring, kindergarten homework}