Hannah Nielsen » Documentary Family Photographer Seattle Portland and Worldwide

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Happy Anniversary to Rebekah and John!  Last April I had the pleasure of shooting their intimate casual wedding at Shafer Baillie Mansion in Capitol Hill.  The day was filled with joy, laughter, and some of the most down to earth people you could hope to meet.  John and Rebekah, I hope each year is better than the last.  Here’s to the first!




Today I had the pleasure of meeting and spending the morning with Rachel Cole and 16 other women in her Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop.

PINThe Retreatshop website says this:

What are you TRULY hungry for? Do you know?

Perhaps you are hungry to express your creativity? Maybe you are hungry for the courage to follow a calling? Or to turn down the volume on your inner critic? Or to know you are enough? Maybe you’re simply hungry for carbs or, more generally, to feel at peace with food? Perhaps your hunger is for a job that pays you what you’re worth? Or it may well be for intimacy the satisfies your body, mind, and spirit?

For me, the word hunger has several meanings. In general, however, food hungers are simply doorways into the disconnection so many women have with their deeper hungers in life – in their careers, relationships, creativity, self-care, and spirituality.


So really think about it for a minute. Do you know what you’re hungry for?  Do you remember the last time you asked yourself that question?  What does it mean to you to be a “Well-Fed Woman”?  I’m finding over the last couple of years that I’m turning in circles around and around the same few core desires.  I acknowledge them, start thinking about how to interact with them, and then get caught up in life and forget about them…just to find that a few months later they’re back knocking on my door asking me where I’ve been.  Or there are too many of them and I only have the time or energy to focus on one or two at a time and the rest get swept under the rug.  And I wonder why I feel overwhelmed and unsatisfied sometimes…I cannot be the best wife or photographer, friend or business woman, sister or daughter when I am not the best me.  When I am satisfied, and only then, do I have enough of myself to give to everyone else.  Today, for me, was not a wake up call, as much as a gentle push in the direction I was already going.  And a reminder that it’s okay to be hungry.  To want things.  To need things.  To feel things to the core of me.

I can not say enough good things about Rachel.  Her calm and present demeanor, honesty, and genuine spirit are entrancing.  She made her own story so relatable, and provided a safe space to us to be ourselves.  And really, who doesn’t want to feel safe being herself?  I’m thankful for this day and the reminder that it is imperative to take care of yourself first (just like on an airplane you secure the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others).  And also that the tiniest changes can make life more joyful.

Now please excuse me. I need to take a shower and there is singing to be done in there.


[Photo Credit: Nicole Rejwan]

  • April 11, 2012 - 7:13 am

    Janeen Provo - Hannah. I love this! I can relate to it! I often think of it as a tool bag that I keep stuffing things into (I can breathe, I know how to do yoga, I paint, I write, I can meditate, thats a good quote) but when do I pull out those tools and use them? and apply them? Just knowing about it and stuffing it in my tool bag doesn’t feed me or calm me or inspire me. Thanks for your love made visible.

The most inspired, dedicated, ambitious people are also the weirdest.  In a good way.  Just watch this documentary on Elmo’s creator, Kevin Clash


This week I have read three articles about the benefits of putting the kibosh on multi-tasking and taking the time to do the things that make you happy…while Tweeting about them, emailing someone, and watching tv.  I forgot what they said.  But here they are:

A list of to do’s: http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/02/20/12-things-highly-productive-people-do-differently/

A great article about finding time: http://www.sunset.com/travel/anne-lamott-how-to-find-time-00418000067331/

A tearjerker (for me) about putting what is important first and living a life you love: http://tarawhitney.com/justbeblogged/2012/04/corner/

(And just for the record, I didn’t really forget what they said…especially that last one!)


The Bournville Factory in Birmingham, UK manufactures 1.5 million Cadbury Creme Eggs a day.  That’s enough sugar to fill a school bus every day…but they sure do taste good!





I get the question all the time: “What if I’m not photogenic?”

There’s a short answer and a long answer to that question.  The short answer is, you are.  The definition of photogenic is “producing or emitting light”.  When you are happy, when you are loving, when you are you…you glow.  Glowing is emitting light.  I truly believe that. But for those of you who don’t buy my “woo woo” explanation, here’s a better way to think of it.

When you sign up for a shoot with me you’re accepting a few things.  First, I won’t make you smile and say cheese.  Second, I won’t LET you smile and say cheese.  When you come to a photo shoot, you come looking your best, but likely feeling pretty nervous and maybe a little insecure about one thing or another.  That is completely normal!!  That’s how I feel in front of the camera too!  But here’s the thing, as my clients, you will loosen up and be yourselves (I promise.  It happens every time!).  And when you’re being yourselves I get some of the most authentic, amazing expressions any of us can hope for.  When your expressions are genuine, you look like you.  And when you look like you, you will see all the good, and all of the insecurities will melt away.   When you look at the photos below, I ask that you’ll really look at them.  Think about how it will feel when you look at photos like these of you and your loved ones…photos that capture…

Your flirtation


Your laughter


Your playfulness


Your awe


Your full heart


Your connection


Your quiet moments


Your moments between the moments


Your affection


Your magic


Your love…


Think about how you’ll feel years down the road when you look at these images.  And more importantly, think about how they will feel. Look again at the image of the dad holding his little girl for the first time.  Imagine how she will feel as an adult looking at this image.  Will she notice anything he might feel insecure about now?  I doubt it.  All she will see is how much he loved her even then.  So the answer to the question?  You ARE photogenic.  And you are perfect as you are.  Right now.



“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

I will not refuse to do something I can do…and I can capture love.  And so I choose to give back.  I wanted to share a little bit about the charities I work with because I don’t think I have shared much about them before and I think they are so so amazing.


Red Thread Sessions:

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.”

Red Thread Sessions gives adoptive families complimentary photo sessions to capture their new families’ first memories together.  These sessions can be upon the homecoming of the new family member, a birth photography session, or a family session within the first three months of becoming a “forever family”.  As a Red Thread Session photographer, I get to capture some of the very first minutes of love between parents and their new child.  How much luckier could I be?



Inspiration Through Art (The Littlest Heroes Project): 

Inspiration Through Art now has many projects,  all of which serve to empower children with any type of serious illness or life altering disability.  The gist is this: “Through the power of photography and the gift of art we are giving back and taking a stand for these children who sometimes feel forgotten because of their illnesses. We are here to let them know that they are heroes to many, and to share their inspirational stories and photos with the world.”  As an Inspiration Through Art photographer, I offer complimentary photo sessions to these children.  These shoots are SO MUCH FUN!

I’m always looking for other worthy causes!  If you support a charity that could use my services, know of an auction looking for donations, or have another idea, please get in touch.  I’d love to chat with you!