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Gift Ideas For People Who Don’t Want “Stuff”…

…who “have everything”, are minimalists, or are “impossible to shop for”.

First, welcome to my first non-photography, non-wedding related blog post yaaaay!

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes will tell you that, “Amanda has opinions… and random ideas… and weird dreams.” One of the things that I’ve started to have strong feelings about is gift giving. These feelings are a reflection of my feelings and opinions on consumerism, waste(fulness), child-rearing, social constructs, and family dynamics. Now, before you ask the answer is no I do not have children. My partner has a son that I’ve been so fortunate to watch grow into a young adult and who doesn’t rolls his eyes at my opinionated ramblings. Even if that weren’t the case I still believe that I’m perfectly justified in having opinions on child-rearing because I’m a human who interacts with other humans every. single. day.

Another foundational opinion that influences my feelings on gift giving is that it should be about the gesture. A gift is a gesture that someone cares about you, has paid attention to your wants and needs, and knows you well enough to know what your likes, interests, etc. What it is not/should not be is an obligation (of which there are varying degrees), a contest, or something that people max out their credit cards over.

For the last couple years my partner and I have been purging. We have too much stuff (more on that in another post), not enough space, and have developed our own tastes and styles. So, last year, when my Mom called to ask what we’d like for Christmas I said, “Consumables.” “Like what?” “I’m not sure, but we really don’t need or want any stuff.” She did a good job, but I think that when I gave the same answer this year it was frustrating so I started thinking about what would qualify as “not stuff”. I have also had so many conversations with friends about how there’s always that one person who’s soooooo impossible to shop for. Here’s another opinion I’ve taken on thanks to my partner-man: sometimes you have to know better and get them something that they want, but that they don’t want to want. I’m a perfect example: I don’t like “girly” stuff (yes I do), but more importantly I’m not going to buy it for myself. This can be as simple as when he got me a pair of purple handlebar grips for my bike instead of the black ones. He knows I was eye-balling the purple ones because they’re fun and colorful, but that I would play it safe and get the black ones instead.

So with all of that here are my gift ideas for people who don’t want “stuff”, who “have everything”, are minimalists, or are “impossible to shop for” (in no particular order, not all ideas were originally mine)…

  1. Date night gift cards or coupons – Also a good idea for kids!
    • Dinner at a restaurant they like
    • Tickets to a movie/concert
    • Child/Pet care
    • Transportation
  2. Self-care day gift cards
    • Mani/Pedi
    • Massage
    • Bottle of wine
    • Child/Pet care
  3. Original Art! – Also a good idea for kids!
    • Support artists that they like or know
    • Commission a pet portrait
    • Perhaps it’s of a place/thing they like
  4. Plants – Also a good idea for kids!
    • Low-maintenance house plant(s) with container
    • Seeds/Starts for garden
    • Plant supplies
  5. Replace something “old” or “broken”
    • Should legitimately need to be replaced
    • Like… kitchen/bath towels, oven mits, utensils, door mats, etc
  6. Cover a month/year of an existing subscription
    • Like… gym, magazine, CSA box, Blue Apron, domestic service, etc
  7. Class/Workshop & Supplies – Also a good idea for kids!
    • Should be a topic that they’ve expressed interest in and/or that you can do together.
  8. Car Wash & Detail Gift Cards
  9. iTunes or Audio Book Gift Cards (commuters will LOVE this) – Also a good idea for kids!
  10. Fancy (or not) Consumables
    • Like… spices, coffee, alcohol, oils, body care products, other non-perishables
  11. Activity that has tickets or cover charge – Also a good idea for kids!
    • Like… Membership to local museum, seasonal events, concert, lecture, festivals, outdoor anything, etc.
  12. Did they recently get married, have a baby, or a family portrait session?
    • Yes? Purchase prints/display items
    • No? Gift card for session
  13. Acts of service coupon book
    • “Good for one…”
  14. Make a charitable donation in their name… to a charity that THEY care about.
  15. Buy them an eff’ing star!
  16. Pool together for an AirBnb weekend

Also if there’s one thing that I appreciate as an adult that I hated as a kid… NICE SOCKS & UNDERWEAR.


You’re welcome.

Starting 2016 with a new adventure…

amanda photographic now based in Bend, Oregon serving western united states

My head is still spinning! We have officially been here for 11 days and it’s still sinking in that we’ve moved over the mountains to Central Oregon.

John and I fell in crazy love with the desert after our first motorcycle tour in 2014 where we traveled through 8 states, covering 3,700 miles in just 12 days. The Oregon high desert has had a special place in our hearts ever since we started spending long weekends at Hart Mountain (thanks Bob!). We knew that we wanted to live in Bend, we only needed the right opportunity to bring us out here. After a couple years of development, training, working, interviewing, and more development John was offered a position at Bend Research and I was ready to move my photography business to BOOMING Bend! So far we’re completely head over heels for the views, the food, the people, and all the activities that are readily available. …SNOW!!!!


Q: What’s John doing at Bend Research?

A: Science. lol… he’ll be doing basically the same thing he was doing in Corvallis, but for a company that really really really wants him. Today was his first day!


Q: Are you still going to photograph weddings in the Willamette Valley?

A: Yes! I already serve all of Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado; so this really doesn’t change anything (business wise) except where my address is and how far I have to drive to get to a venue. I still LOVE to work in new places and am happy to travel for your special day.


Q: Are your prices going to change? Will you come to Corvallis for a mini-session?

A: Yes, but they were going to anyway. Yes, they will be more organized and grouped into mini-session weekends.


Q: How will you talk with your clients and develop that good relationship that’s so important to you?

A: I already use skype or facetime a lot for clients that live out of town. I make every effort to meet with every couple in person at least once before their wedding rehearsal. I’ll probably even more strongly encourage engagement sessions so that I have a good excuse to travel to them.


Q: Are you scared about moving your business?

A: Yep! Big changes are naturally terrifying. But I’m soooooo ready for this. I’m excited to explore all the beautiful natural areas, parks, and venues. It also doesn’t hurt that one of my best gal pals – Abby of AE Creative – has lived in Bend (moved from Corvallis) for over a year now and her wedding planning, rentals, and stationary business is a-boomin’! She’s given me so much encouragement over the last several weeks leading up to the big move and immediately welcomed us both to Bend.


Q: Can I come visit?

A: Please do!!!

Anyway… I mostly just wanted to make this official announcement so that you all could be part of his HUGE new adventure. Get ready to see some crazy beautiful landscape and night photography while we get settled in. >>> NEW MAILING ADDRESS: PO Box 7734 Bend, Or 97708

Recharging in the middle of nowhere…

Whenever someone asks me if I get tired or bored of working with my own business I give them the honest answer, “Duh, yes!”

We all get bogged down, we all feel uninspired, we all wish that the work would magically get done without us sometimes. For me this tends to happen about twice a year – in the spring and in the fall. The spring funk is mostly rooted in the fact that not so many folks get married in the winter in Oregon. I’ll have spent the previous 3ish months doing back-end work on my webpage, updating print media, meeting with couples for consultations, and the occasional engagement session. The gray skies can make the winter months difficult so by the time March rolls around I’m itchin’ to get back to work, but I’m feeling out of practice and in a funk. The fall freakout is a little bit different and has been with me since college. This one occurs around October and comes with a panicked questioning of everything I’ve ever known! FREAKOUT!!! 

Both the funk and the freakout are not terribly helpful, take up a lot of my energy, and have the potential to lead to fear-based decisions. In my last blog post I talked about community, competition, and fear… If you haven’t had the chance to read it, click over there, then come right back.

We all have our ways of recharging, resetting, and realigning – the way I do it is to get the eff outta town! John and I are big fans of Eastern Oregon, high deserts, and being at least one hour away from anyone else… so that’s usually where we end up. If we have the time and don’t mind a barebones campsite we’ll take his motorcycle, but if we want to camp with more comforts or if we’re a little pressed for time we’ll take his truck. In March our friend, Bob, was in Oregon visiting from Santa Fe (we also looooove the South West). He was the one who introduced John to Hart Mountain a few years ago and we were very excited for all three of us to get to go together and be in the quiet. Hart Mt is very special. The 278,000-acre area is a national refuge for pronghorn antelope and other species with a 4,000 ft elevation difference from its highest to lowest point. This trip was focused on taking it easy and just enjoying being the only people out there. Our first night a storm rolled in, dropping the temperature and dumping several inches of snow on us. I was freezing all night… and my new focus was just staying warm.

The next day was amazing!!!  The snow eventually melted in the sunny spots and we spent the day exploring a basin farther into the refuge. Tiny flowers were emerging and fresh signs that the animals were out on the prowl all pointed to spring. There were also a lot of arrowhead pieces poking out of the newly bare soil. We explored for hours… I even got a little sunburned. We soaked in the sun while it was up, because we knew another cold night was coming once it went down.

After taking Bob to the airport John and I decided that we really needed some motorcycle time. We quickly unpacked and repacked (our living room looked like a garage sale was happening) our gear and planned an overnight route for the Painted Hills in Central Oregon. Neither of us had been to that area, but we knew it had a great reputation for motorcycle touring as well as breathtaking scenery. We stayed at the Oregon Hotel in Mitchell (not to be confused with Hotel Oregon in McMinville) and had some really tasty burgers at the diner down the street, before turning in early. Apparently the “gas station” across the street from the hotel used to keep a live BEAR in a cage for people to look at. We were up before the sun to get started on our route and ended up needing every inch of daylight to see everything we wanted to see and still make it home in the same day.

I came back fully recharged and ready to hit the ground running… Thanks Oregon!

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>>> Photos below from our Painted Hills trip were taken with my iphone.

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Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon

Painted Hills Oregon

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Victoria Ann | Corvallis Newborn Photography

Welcome to the world baby Victoria!
There’s nothing more unpredictable about a baby than their arrival. When Mama, Candace, was a little early with number two and her original photographer was late with her second it threw off their newborn portrait plans. It should have been the other way around, but babies aren’t known for caring about “schedules” or “plans” or “Mama’s Sleep”.
Fortunately we live in a wonderful, supportive community where photographers can send their clients to one of the others when plans need to change. We all know that our fellow photographers are going to treat that client with the same care and respect that we would, and can rest easy (perhaps with a new baby) knowing that everything will be taken care of.

Baby Victoria and her Mommy came to my studio when she was just over a week old for these adorable portraits. She’s already full of energy, smiles, and expression. I can’t wait to watch her grow into a beautiful young lady. Enjoy 🙂

Katelyn B | CHS Class of 2015

Katelyn Beilby | Class of 2015

Corvallis High School

Bright . Joyful . Volunteer . Dog Lover . Million Watt Smile

Mia Daniela | Chicago Newborn Photography


What a crazy world we live in…

I recently went to Chicago to photograph one of my best friend’s wedding and what was already a very busy weekend got a little busier as we welcomed baby Mia into her family. I’m going to summarize the amazingness that Labor Day Weekend was just so you can begin to understand what this weekend will mean for these families for the rest of their lives. Sunday August 31st was Margaux + Ron’s wedding day AND Ron’s Grandmother’s 92nd birthday. On the last dance Margaux’s Grandmother was rockin’ the dance floor so hard that she fractured her hip (went to the hospital, got fixed up a couple days later, she’s emotionally ready to dance again). The next morning, Monday September 1st, Mariela (Ron’s Brother’s Lady) went into labor and welcomed Mia later that afternoon. The next day, Tuesday September 2nd, was Mariela’s birthday. HOLY COW!!! That’s going to be a busy family weekend from now on…

When Steve and Mariela came to get me at O’Hare the Thursday before I knew she wouldn’t make her due date 2 weeks away. I half joked that if she went into labor while I was still in town that I would come do birth photography and newborn portraits for them… or geez even stay an extra day no problem. Baby Mia must have heard me give her the green light, because she give her mama no end of get-me-out-of-here sass until she joined the fun.

Lianna Daisy | Corvallis Newborn Photography

More than a week late, baby Lianna arrived with so much anticipation and love ready to greet her. Scheduling in newborn sessions can be tricky, as I’ve mentioned before, and scheduling birth photography can be even more so… Unfortunately my ninth anniversary and her being delivered by C-section got in the way of her birth being documented. Instead we’ll get to watch her grow over the next year in three sessions at newborn, 6 months, and one year. I can’t wait to see those curious eyes at our next meeting 🙂

Hoff-Breslin Family | A Typical Morning…

What does your typical morning look like? For many of us it include breakfast, coffee, and planning out the rest of your day. For Azadeh and Nick it also includes playtime and caring for their 2 1/2 year old, Winter (shy wild, absolutely curious), and their 3 month old twins, Wren and Forest (happy, roly-poly, also curious). Perhaps needless to say this chapter in their lives as a family is busy, bordering on crazy… and I can’t think of a more authentic moment to capture.

I arrived at their house just South of Corvallis early in the morning – at least early for a photo session, they’d been up for a hours already. The sky had a haziness to it that would make the light glow orange and kept the harshest shadows away. Mama, Winter, and Wren were sitting on the couch looking over a soft fabric book documenting Winter’s first year. Soon it was time to make oats in Winter’s play kitchen. I could tell right away that this was an important activity for him. He carefully prepared and served the invisible oats including a generous portion of invisible dark-dark (brown sugar). Soon Forest joined the family in the play room and it was oats for everyone! We wandered out to their hammock to enjoy the fresh morning air and some cuddles. Wren and Forest were constantly greeted by kisses and snuggles by their family – they love to smile and coo. Some movement became necessary as the littles grew restless with sitting mostly still around the hammock, so we explored the tall grass behind the house and made our way over to the their garden and blueberry bushes. Most of the berries had already been picked for breakfast scones that morning, but there were a few left.

If there’s one thing that strongly bonds a mother and child it is nursing. Since this is a big part of Azadeh’s life, especially pulling double duty to feed growing twins, she decided that it should also be part of their session. I actually really enjoy photos of mothers nursing because there is so much intimacy, love, care, and real life happening in a single image.
After a healthy meal the twins were ready for a nap, Winter and Papa were already busy playing with some building toys, and soon we were back to eating invisible oats. There was some more playing with Mama and Papa before we ended the session with a family foot photo.

I can’t wait to watch this family grow and tell their story.

Tara + Sam | Romantic Maternity on the Oregon Coast

Sam took Tara to the coast for her birthday weekend back in mid-July. We decided to meet at North Fogarty Creek State Park for their maternity session. The forecast called for partially cloudy, no wind. ….and for some strange reason I believed them. While the wind was fairly minimal there was hardly a cloud in site. I was hoping for some big puffy clouds and a sparsely populated setting, but the sun brought folks to the beach, so we had to share. Tara + Sam are expecting a squishy little girl in mid-September. Yay!

Stone Family | Portraits at the Capitol Building

We all have those people in our lives that always feel close by… but really you haven’t seen them since your 16 birthday. That amount of time doesn’t seem to hurt the connection between good people, and Millie is one of the BEST!

Sure it had been 15 years and I had only seen pictures of her husband, Josh, and baby, Griffin, on facebook but when they decided to come visit friends in Portland we made time for some portraits and dinner. We decided to go to the Oregon Capitol Building and use the steps as well as the park areas on all sides. In true Oregon fashion it started to sprinkle just as we were getting started… Whatever. Millie and her family are a riot! Josh is especially funny with Griffin and is a trooper with the large amounts of drool that accumulate when teething babies get excited. Griffin is so expressive and very mobile! I don’t think I even need to mention is amazing blue eyes, but well I guess I just did.

The Stone family made their way to Eugene after their portrait stop in Salem to visit more friends and family; finally returning home to San Jose about a week later. Next time we’re doing portraits in California!

…because no portrait session with an almost one-year old would be complete without a couple bloopers.