lifestyle photography

10 on 10 - May 2016

Portland Photography

Spring time is always busy. Working like a fool, traveling, and multiple family birthdays. This year was my sister's first birthday while living in Oregon, so we celebrated Oregon style at the tulip festival followed by a family barbecue. Before we get to that though, make sure to check out the other 10 on 10ers.








This was actually the first year and I have been to Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest as well. I'm a sucker for some beautiful flowers.

I had no idea there were so many different kinds of tulips. And later that day, we had a few of those types of tulips all over our house.

 I love the awesome activities that there is to do in Oregon throughout the year. Something fun in each season gives us a reason to get out the door. On top of that, I'm so glad that the sister is finally here so we can take the whole day (and other days) to enjoy one another's company and #exploreoregon together.

Cheers to more great days this spring and summer. Until next time...

I quit! ...the corporate world

Portland's best photographer

...not photography, the other thing.

This post has been a long time coming. The winds have been stirring around here in the last couple of months. 2015 was a year of build-up and it finally all culminated into some much needed changes.

1- I started a grad school program. Give me two years, and I will have three extra letters after my name: M, B, and A. I'm not exactly sure where this will lead yet. I have some thoughts and aspirations to go into coaching, consulting, or business education with other creative businesses, but who knows. My goal is to find new opportunities, to extend my horizon, and to basically become a business ninja.

2- My totally awesome husband recently transitioned into a vice principal position at a middle school. Oh the stories. I was never that young and naive, right? ...I can feel my mother rolling her eyes now.

3- As for the meat of this post, yes, I recently put in my notice at my day job. While I have a mix of emotions, for the most part, I'm really excited! I've been unhappy and stuck for a while. My drive hasn't been fulfilled and ultimately, I need a place where I can be creative. And by creative, I don't just mean keeping in touch with my artsy-fartsy side (although I like that too). I need to be able to implement my own vision; to problem solve, to critically think, and to construct change. I need to be able to be autonomous and flexible. Basically I need out of the corporate world, at least for a while, but maybe forever.

Portland portrait photographer

I can unequivocally state that starting and running a small business is one of the hardest things to do to make a living. I have so much respect for people that have built a successful business. It's one of the reasons I love Portland so much. Competition is fierce, but this city supports local business like none other, and the culture that has grown from that supportive mentality has made this city the coolest place to be. I've enjoyed all the perks of Portland's culture for 10+, and it's time to jump, cannon-ball style, into the thick of it. It's time to participate.

So I guess this post is my announcement. The start of a new story. I've been walking through the woods of entrepreneurship for a while, but have never lost site of the corporate highway. It's time. I'm moving out of the brush and into the thick forrest unknown. the a deep enough metaphor for you? 

Portland Professional Photographer

As I write this post, I feel vulnerable. It's like I'm opening my chest to give everyone a little peak of my heart. It's scary to expose myself, especially when I'm not sure where this journey will lead.

I use photography as my medium to connect with the world. Through running my photography business, I have found a passion for business. I'm excited to be able to spend my time honing my craft and getting my hands dirty in the entrepreneurial world. I'm excited to work with other creative businesses owners (more on that coming soon-ish). I'm excited to test myself, to find out what I'm made of and to see what I can really accomplish. So while I'm feeling vulnerable, I'm also feeling hopeful and eager; like a great adventure is on the horizon.

Portland's best photographer

I guess I'm also hoping you'll tag along for the ride. I'll be blogging about twice a month about new adventures and my favorite recent shoots. I'm also going to keep running 10 on 10 (which is a blog series which photographers from around the country documenting and showing photos of their own lives on the 10th of each month). If you'd like to get notified with each new blog post, you can sign up here.

I'm also starting a MONTHLY NEWSLETTER. The purpose of the newsletter is mainly to document as I navigate through this new journey. It's a place to communicate challenges, hurdles, and accomplishments. least that's what I think it's going to be. It may change or progress, but it will have different content than the blog. If that sounds like your jam, sign up here.

Lastly, I have a mailing list for photography specials and highlights. This will be sent out with promotions and client announcements. It's my way to give a little extra to those who have shown their support. You can sign-up for that here.

Portland area photographer

One more thing before I stop typing. I think it's important to recognize the support that I've had thus far. Two days ago I got the best random text from a client saying how much she cherishes her family photos. When I hear that, it make my heart swell. I love documenting of the best things in people's life to keep like a little time capsule, and I love even more being able to do that as a profession. My small way of making the world a little more connected.

A big thank you and an even bigger virtual bear hug to all those past, present, and future clients/friends. Thank you for your support on this journey. Thank you for telling your friends and for believing that your life is worth documenting.

10 on 10 - February 2016

Portland Real Photography

This month's 10 on 10 is getting deep. It's about the strength of family and friends and the importance of love and community, about remembering those that are lost and spreading the love.

Before we dive deep, make sure to check out the other contributing 10 on 10ers who also chronicle a day of their own life each month and post it on their blog. 





This month we spent a lot of time with good friends. As I move into a phase of my life where I'm taking on more work and my responsibilities are spreading more thin, I realize more and more how imperative it is to foster the relationships that I value; because when life is shaken at it's core, it's those relationships that bind even tighter.

About a year ago, a really sad thing happened to some good family friends of ours. Their family lost two very loved women. These two women were sisters, and daughters, and friends, and girlfriends, and one was a mother. It's an unimaginable hardship for a family to go through. As a friend, it's hard to know what to say because there is often nothing to say. If anything, it gives those closest the chance to show their love and support. To just be there and be available.

This last month, there was a memorial organized to remember these women. We wrote letters and notes, attached them to balloons and sent them flying. It was both personal and shared, and it really was beautiful. We shared moments of struggle, moments of happiness, and gave an overwhelming feeling of love. Love for one another and love for those gone too soon.

Sarah and Megan you are still so loved. We are here to remember you and to love and support your family.


Until next time...

The Growing Family

Portland Family Photography, Courtney Z Photography

Some recent stories:

#1 - A few months ago, I randomly got the chance to have dinner with an aunt and uncle that live in Florida. If I’m lucky, I get to see them once every other year, so we had a good amount to talk about and catch-up on; life, career, family, upcoming changes and challenges, etc. Of course we got on the topic of photography and documenting life, real life. I mean have you never met/read me before? It's like all I talk about. …and you may hear more about this part of the conversation in the coming months.

Anyway, mid-conversation my uncle said something that stuck out to me like a pin prick. It was something like:

The thing I remember most about when Mitch was young was when he would fall asleep on his bedroom floor, wearing his superhero costume. 20 years later, I wish I had real documentation of that.

Portland Family Photography


#2 - I got an e-mail from one of my repeat clients from over the last year. Like a handful of my families, I've been around to document their son at different time points in his first year. It's one of my favorite parts about this job, to see how a family grows and changes over the years.

Her e-mail was in response to sending her a gallery of our latest session:

"I'm glad we did three sessions this year. It is so crazy to look back through the 6-month session and see how different he looked then! I almost didn't remember him like that!"


#3 – If you know me at all, you probably know that family is really important to me. …I feel kinda weird even writing that. I mean, isn’t family really important to almost everyone? It’s your backbone. Anyway, over the last two and half years, there has been one little lady that’s been particularly important to me and Nabil, our niece Myra.

Here’s the thing about kids. They grow like freakin’ weeds. In fact, I have a killer dandelion in my front walkway that grows slower than this girl. We see her as often as possible, but in reality, that translates to about twice a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. You can imagine I take photos of her almost every time she comes over. Naptime in particular.

Can you believe how much she’s changed over the last six month? Each time I see her, she has grown, changed, learned...


Are you sensing a theme here? Throughout life there are key moment and phases, but those moments are just that, moments. They’re fleeting. They’re temporary.

One of the challenges about being a photographer is trying to convey the value of professional photography, especially this day in age when everyone has a decent camera in their pocket. But the thing is, real photography of real moments transcends time. It’s something that becomes more valuable as time passes because it freezes a moment that you won’t ever get back.

Having the opportunity to stay with families and see their kids at different stages in life is really something special. It's a unique opportunity to be able to get a somewhat intimate view of a family once a year. I get to see milestones, how they have their mom's eyes, and how that mischievous smile still hasn't gone away. You know the one that says, I know that you want me to walk towards you, but I'm about to run the other way. ...and then fall in the dirt and get my nice cloths dirty.

I can't tell you how often I hear something like "I miss seeing my kids at that age. At the time I just wanted that phase to be over, now I miss it". 

If you've read my blog before, you know that I preach this from the hillside. (If you haven't you can read more ramblings here and here). Documenting your life with intention gives you the opportunity to later look back at your life and remember all the best pieces that the present often clouds. It gives you the chance to lay to rest all the frustration and irritations time has a way of dissipating, and instead to celebrate what once was and what is now. I can't count how many times I've looked at an old picture of my sister or of my husband and I, and had that ache of nostalgia and the joy of growth all in one moment.

…so, I guess what I’m trying to say (again), is that making it a priority to intentionally and regularly document your life and your family will be something that you will value more and more with each passing year. It costs money, yes, but so does that patio furniture or that new phone, and only one of these things will be around in 20 years. Whether it’s with me, another photographer, or with your cell phone, make the time to remind your future self that you lived a pretty kick-a life.

Portland Family Photography

...and if you're interested in booking something soon, you can check out some info about upcoming holiday mini sessions here.