Tag Archives: holliwithani

At The Courthouse: Short and Sweet Seattle Wedding

When I met Renee and Chris for a little family portrait session this summer, I immediately thought they made a beautiful couple. Loving, patient and kind to each other, I was so excited when Renee emailed me about photographing their wedding.

I started out as a Wedding Photography Assistant when I was 19 and loading Medium Format cameras with film. So, my first love and early training is with wedding photography, but as my life has changed and I’ve become a parent, I have focused more on portraits. Times like this, though, I make an exception.Wedding_HolliMargell 172

Photographing this short and sweet wedding reminded me of why I will always love weddings: it’s a beautiful day in the story of life, and capturing it to remember in photographs is truly an honor. There’s something magical about having such a momentous moment in your life documented. {Bonus points to Renee’s friends for gifting her some extra photography at the courthouse – seriously the best gift ever!}

How many people get ready for their wedding in the Jury Room?RCWedding_HolliMargell 157

Renee’s friends made it fun and helped keep Lila entertained so Mommy could get all dressed…

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Chris’ first look at his lovely bride…RCWedding_HolliMargell 162

They both wiped each other’s tears…

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Close friends and family were there, including Grandma via Facetime!Wedding_HolliMargell 173
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The wedding party migrated to the Bay Cafe to savor lunch and celebrate the new family.RCWedding_HolliMargell 166

Congratulations to Chris, Renee and little Lila!RCWedding_HolliMargell 171 RCWedding_HolliMargell 169 RCWedding_HolliMargell 170 RCWedding_HolliMargell 168 RCWedding_HolliMargell 167

xo, Holli




Ready For The Journey

I like to think of life like a surfing metaphor – there are always waves, some are stronger than others, and some will even carry you along when you didn’t want it to but sometimes you can pick which one to ride. The ride can end in a crash or leave you exhilarated and ready for another.  While I haven’t surfed since I was 19, I have experienced the beauty of riding along some big changes in my life.PacificWaves_HolliMargell (1)

Learning and doing non-profit photography is one wave I want to ride. For the Workshops With A Purpose Bolivia trip, it has been postponed until April 2015. It’s like a wave I know I want to ride, but it’s farther out than I expected. Which, after the initial disappointment is actually a good thing. I will have more time to get our family into a routine with the school year, and more time to earn the funds to go.

So, while it might appear like I’m putting this goal on the back burner, I’m actually working on it through my other endeavors. Every portrait session and all of my art photography sold will go toward my Bolivia Trip. I started a Bolivia page here on the site so that you can check out my progress, and I’ll only post an update once a month. That way, this site can get back to business!

Speaking of business, I am happy to share that I now offer studio sessions – we no longer have to schedule around the weather. These are at no additional cost, and are available at your request.

Thank you for reading,



Why Photography?

While sitting at my booth in a Holiday Art And Gift Show, a man asked me the best, most thought-provoking question I’ve ever gotten as a photographer.

He looked around at my photographs and made the usual small talk before asking, “So, why photography?”

I thought about it for a second, then shared my thoughts…

Photography is a way for me to capture beauty in life and share it with others in the amount of time I have to be creative.  And, I think we all need to see more beauty in life. Especially with social media making it so easy to be visually aware of all the horrible things happening in the world.

That’s not to say that I think we should ignore the bad things, because I do think that’s important so we can support those in need. But, honestly, we cannot un-see the images of damaged lives, or abused bodies. Even without a photogenic memory, these images stay with us somewhere in our brains. And, the media makes more money when they share the bad things. I don’t see enough of the good I know is happening in the world. And so, I choose photography to help me remember the beauty.

A few of my favorite things...
©Holli with an i photography

. . .

As my friends in High School were taking Photography, I was painting.  I spent hours in the art classroom to complete a painting during lunch and any time I could get a pass from Auto shop class. I had been drawing since I could hold a pencil and had watercolor lessons at 7-years-old from my artist Mother.

I honestly didn’t consider photography an art form until I was 17 and in the middle of a photojournalism class when I was a freshman in college. I had to experience the magic of the dark room printing my own photos to see it. The thing is that I had assumed it was just too easy, and that real art took time to master, to cultivate. Then, my opinion shifted in that dark room.

The last painting I completed was the Spring before my son was born almost 8 years ago. Photography fits into my life better now, and with a digital camera makes it super accessible to share with more people.

So, that is why photography.

Why do you love or choose photography?

Hello, Fall!

This is my daughter’s favorite season. I love it too, the colors, smell and spices. It’s also the time of year that I get crafty and start gift shopping for Christmas.

Fall colors
Fall colors

Living in Seattle, there are literally over a dozen holiday art shows from October-December. I’m getting into the swing of these with two local shows in West Seattle! My daughter joined me this Summer at the Alki Art Fair, and we had so much fun, that she will be joining me whenever possible at every event I do from now on until she’s ready to host her own.

So, mark your calendars for The Fauntleroy Fine Art and Holiday Gifts Show, 9140 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98136

Since the show is hosted in a church, the times for the show vary by day:
Fri. Nov. 15, 5-8pm,
Sat. Nov. 16, 10-4,
Sun. Nov. 17, 11-2

We’re getting excited as we print and package our art gifts. The show features over a dozen local artists from jewelry to knit to watercolor. This year, I’ll debut a new line of garlands like this one:

My latest addition to the art photography shop will debut in November!
My latest addition to the art photography shop will debut in November!

And, stay tuned for another local show in December!

Children Portraits: And then there were four!

What a joy it was to photograph this family as they welcomed a fourth sibling, a precious girl. She clearly adored her older siblings. They were a bundle of energy!

With a red wagon and balloons, we had fun rolling around the park!
Lounging in the park, the littlest guy was such a good model!
Lounging in the park, the littlest guy was such a good model!

Their Mother told me the oldest didn’t like to pose for photographs, but you can’t tell by these – she was super helpful with her baby sister, and then didn’t make a fuss about posing for my camera.

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Such a sweet smile!

The boys were such fun, and clearly adore their little sister!

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What a sweet big brother.

I hope they had as much fun as I did capturing this moment in their lives.

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These two are naturals!

Summer Beaty: Hiking

One of my favorite things to do in the Summer is hiking. I’ve never really hiked anywhere else except in the Pacific Northwest. It never ceases to amaze me at how lovely the forest is, especially the trees!

To celebrate our birthdays, which are 360 days apart, last weekend The Man and I spent a whole day together without kids. We love our kids, but there is something special about spending time one on one, like we used to during our dating days.

We enjoyed a hike just outside Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho on Mineral Ridge Trail. Here are a few of my favorite snaps…I’m totally enamored with the patterns in the bark right now…

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Alki Art Fair Sneak Peeks!

I have so much fun getting ready for an art fair, ordering new prints, and having them arrive from the printer feels like Christmas!

This year, I have even more florals, and have added some whimsey to my work – from Gnomes to Robotany (Transformers in the garden). And, I have expanded my love of all things in nature to include the Maple Tree, and trees in general. I love the life cycle they go through each season: growing from bare branches to lush leaves. Here are a just a few sneak peeks – last two captured with my phone (not an iPhone, pardon the low image quality):

From my Robotany series, this is a limited edition, hand mounted print on wood.
Just got these unwrapped from Plywerk – prints on Bamboo and Maple – my Garden Fresh trio!
Pink Dogwood 4×4 wood mounted print – such a sweet image of beauty!


Am I Beautiful or do I look like a Bobble Head?

I’ve been branching out in my photography business to include Beauty Portraits. Last week, I had booked a portfolio building session, and when my friend forgot to come, I decided to step in front of the camera myself…

Here is what I look like on a normal morning:

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Here is what I look like after some make up, brushing my hair, putting on a vintage dress and posing in a flattering way:

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I love this one above, because I secretly wish I was a movie star back in the 40’s when women wore amazing dresses that left room for the imagination. The only thing I wish I had done differently was to put my hair up and wear long satin gloves ala Audrey Hepburn.

Here is what I look like in my favorite dress:

SelfPortraitsbyHolliMargell 2{Above} My arms can’t be nearly that thin, and my head that big, but I love this dress and the background color. So, I’ll keep it:) The reason my arms look so tiny and my head so big is not because of Photoshop (which I’m still saving up to buy), but because I used a 35mm lens which warps an image slightly into a wider angle. This can be very flattering on some people who want to appear thinner than they are. But for me, I’ve got the Bobble head!

Overall, it is fun to have these photos that help me see myself as prettier, but I struggle with this idea of Beauty Portraits. I’m in favor of natural beauty, but a part of my heart loves glamour and pretty dresses. I want to help women (especially Moms) to feel beautiful, and do portraits in a way that does this without a bunch of Photoshopping to make them look fake. So, personally, I can say proper posing and a pretty dress with a dash of red lipstick did the trick for me. I can look the part of a model. But. There’s still a but tugging at my soul.

We have this culture in America that divides women: those who feel they need to “put their face on” before leaving the house and those who rebel against this, and wear their husband’s old Band Tees and jeans that don’t fit anymore. I think I want the freedom to dress how I want and not be judged, but I’d have to live in a utopia to experience that.

I think the tugging comes from this altruistic desire for all of us to feel beautiful in our natural skin. To capture that spark from the soul that makes a person beautiful. And, that doesn’t require make up or a pretty dress. But, I think sometimes putting on those things gives a person the costume they need to feel safe to shine.

 What would you think if you saw me in the polka dot dress at the grocery store?  Would I be trying too hard? Or just plain cute? Do I look like a Bobble Head?





Mother + Daughter: Beauty Portraits

Vera is a beautiful woman inside and out. She is a mother, business owner and community leader. Her nursery is an amazing space where my kids never want to leave, it’s a wonderland. So, I was looking forward to photographing Vera and her daughter in the nursery surrounded by flora and spring colors.

Sadly, being a true Spring day in Seattle, I arrived for our portrait session in the pouring rain. Instead of waiting it out and losing our time, I asked if I could do the portraits indoors. Vera’s home is also full of plants and reflects Johanna’s love of music. I quickly found a couple of spots in the living room where the natural light was just right. Their turquoise upright piano was a true gem for a back drop. Vera was excited to do the portrait session as a birthday present to herself. Her daughter Johanna clearly shines a beauty like her mother: strong and pure. This is what I did my best to show in each photograph.

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In some ways, I think that rainy day helped capture a more intimate portrait session in the home. And, it helped me remember that no matter what the weather decides to do, we can always find a space to capture beauty.

Capturing Beauty in People

Something funny happens when you point a camera at someone and say, smile! They become self conscious, fiddle with their hair, and worry about how they look. I know, because I’m guilty of this myself.

In my photography, I love capturing a person in a photojournalistic style – the natural smile unhindered by thoughts about how they look. This is a wonderful natural skill I have, but means I don’t always know how to coax it out of a person in a portrait setting. So, I decided to take a class to grow. Last month, I enjoyed Sue Bryce’s 28 Days course – yes, 28 days of lessons! Her work is stunning, and if you haven’t heard about her, you should take a look.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing 6 “Glamour Portrait” sessions and love the progress I’m seeing in my work. It’s exciting to see a person’s beauty light up. It’s like when I position a Tulip for a photograph in sunlight on my table for a Fine Art Photograph. Seeing that composition come together is like watching magic. It’s beauty at it’s fullest. And, so now I’m learning to do that with people.

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When I tell my friends and family I’m growing my business to include Glamour Portraits, they don’t know what that means. Some think Boudoir some think 1980’s big hair and smokey eyes. What I’ve decided to say now is that I do Modern Beauty Portraits. Like a portrait, but a focus on capturing a person’s true beauty!

This new skill is so much fun to practice. I find myself happy for the rest of the day after a photo shoot. The first day I did one, my husband came home from work and asked me what happened. I was notably joyful cooking dinner and cleaning up after the kids. I told him I think it’s because I felt like I had played dress up with girlfriends for a couple hours during that first Beauty Portrait session.

Would you like a Beauty Portrait? If so, I’m looking for 2 ladies to model for me outside. I’m not looking for Models, but real women who will let me capture their beauty.  I’d love to photograph someone in the park using my new beauty pose skills. Now that the weather is nice, it’s time to keep growing my photography skills: email me if you’re willing to model for an hour in June or July – photoholli at gmail dot com

Thanks for watching me grow,