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Summerland 2013 Favorite Portraits: TriCities & Moses Lake Portrait Photographer

What a year it’s been! Not only has it been my busiest year ever, I’ve also achieved a few things I never dreamed would happen, including building a portrait studio on our 30-acre farm and wining photographer of the year from the National Association of Professional Child Photographers. Phew, if that was 2013, I wonder what 2014 holds.

One of my goals for 2014 is to blog more of my sessions. I tend to do most of my image shares on my Facebook Page, but while Facebook is wonderful for keeping in touch with you all, it isn’t really that great for showcasing more than one or two images at a time. I’ve had so many beautiful sessions this year, and I really want to show them to you. So I promise to start posting them more here.

That being said I thought it would be fun to recap some of my most popular images on Facebook for 2013. Without further ado, here are the 2013 top 10 Facebook images for Summerland Photography.

Kennewick Washington baby photographer

6-month old baby portrait session in a sunflower field near Kennewick, WA

#10) Little Mr. K demonstrates perfectly here why 6-month old babies make for some of my favorite portrait subjects. I love the sunflowers and the summer sun almost as much as his sweet little face and chubby toes.

Walla Walla, WA child portrait photographer

Little Miss C sits on the stone steps of a 100 year old barn on a farm near Walla Walla, WA

#9) So serious and so sweet. I’ve been photographing her since she was a newborn, and she’s always been a muse for me. This was photographed at the family’s farm and it’s one of my most favorite locations of the year.

7-month old baby portrait near Pasco, WA

7-month old baby portrait near Pasco, WA

#8) Could she be any cuter? This little sweetheart could have won the award for happiest baby of the year too.  I’m definitely going to have to post more images from this family portrait session in a future blog post.


Kennewick, WA Senior Portrait

Kennewick, WA Senior Portrait 2013

#7) I’m always so impressed with the beautiful and talented teens I get to photograph for their high school senior portraits. These portrait sessions are a blast and are highlights of my year. Summerland Facebook Fans gave this image their seventh highest ranking.

Moses Lake, WA sibling newborn portrait

Moses Lake, WA sibling newborn portrait

#6) A newborn portrait with siblings, aka the miracle shot 🙂 It looks simple, but yep, it ain’t easy to achieve. The results are so worth it, though. They are never going to be this little again, and I’m so glad these beautiful children’s parents will have this image to remember it forever.

Othello, WA portrait photographer

Othello, WA Child Portrait Photographer

#5) OK, I admit I’m a little biased on this one because this is a portrait of my son. But hey, you all either agree with me or are just really supportive because you gave this image the fifth highest ranking of the year. I photographed this exactly a year ago on New Year’s Eve day. It had just snowed and we snuck in a quick shoot while my daughter was taking her afternoon nap. Ah nap time, now that’s something I’m definitely going to miss from 2013.

Moses Lake, WA newborn portrait with guitars and amps

Moses Lake, WA newborn portrait with guitars and amps

#4) Born to Rock Baby. Now this little newborn’s daddy is a seriously talented guitar player. When the parents said they wanted to do some shots with his guitars I knew it couldn’t be your run of the mill guitar shot. One of my few newborn shots of the year where I used studio light too.

Walla Walla, WA newborn portrait photographer

Walla Walla, WA newborn portrait with sibling

#3) Little Miss C makes her second appearance on the top 10 list here with her new baby sis, Miss A, at the newborn portrait session earlier in the year. On a side note big brother wanted nothing to do with getting in on this picture until little sister showed him how it was done. Let’s hear it for sibling rivalry, lol. She made it look like a walk in the park, and little Miss A’s yawn was the perfect touch.

Othello, WA newborn portrait of baby feet

Othello, WA newborn portrait

#2) OK, I admit it, I completely adore baby feet. I mean look how cute those little toes are! But I’ve got to say this surprised me when I was tallying up the rankings, and I discovered that this was the second highest ranking for the year. I guess you all share my love, too.  It’s also interesting to note that this was from Mr. K’s (from image 10) newborn session, so get that kid a modeling contract, ASAP!

child portrait on farm near Ephrata, WA

child portrait on farm near Ephrata, WA

#1) And the number one most liked image on my Facebook page for this year was this handsome farm boy. Now looking at this you probably think he just casually stood there, struck a pose, and I captured this image at my leisure. Well you would be wrong. He made me WORK for this. This was literally one split second of stillness among a chaos of movement. But as soon as I hit the shutter, I knew it was perfect. That my friends, it what years of photographing sports from my journalism past life does for you. It helps you get moving targets (aka the under 5 crowd) in focus, lol. Well I knew I loved the image, but I couldn’t decide between B&W or color, so I put it up for vote to you guys. The response was overwhelming. What was the result, you ask? Well it was pretty evenly split, but color came out the winner. What do you think? Do you agree? Me, I still can’t choose.

On the docket for tomorrow. My favorite images of 2013 that didn’t make the top 10……….

Sandy Summers Russell is NAPCP 2012 Photographer of the Year!!!!

I confess, I have not been very good about keeping this blog up to date. I promise to work on that because I have so much to show you. If you’d like to see all the latest and greatest be sure to become a fan of my Facebook Page. New images get posted there all the time.

So…big news!!!! I’m a member of the international professional organization National Association of Professional Child Photographers, NAPCP. Last week they named me their 2012 Child Photographer of the Year! How cool is that? What an honor. Even cooler, one of my winning images was displayed on an electronic billboard in New York’s Time Square. I was just speechless when I heard. I thought it was a typo, lol, and I found out about it through Facebook just like everyone else. How’s that for the power of social media?

If you’d like to see the NAPCP announcement go here. And if you’d like to see the official press release go here.

But enough chatting, let’s see some pictures!

Here’s the image of the billboard in Times Square as well as my winning images which helped me qualify for the award. A big thanks to all my amazing clients. Without you, there are no pictures.

I sincerely hope no one got run over by a taxi while taking this picture.


Jeff Haller - June 4, 2013 - 8:59 am

Congratulations to you, Sandy! Your pictures are great and your award is well deserved. Keep up the great work!

Sandy Summers Russell - June 4, 2013 - 9:19 am

Thank you Jeff! That means a lot coming from such an awesome photographer as you. You’ve been there from the early years on, my friend 🙂

Leslie - June 19, 2013 - 8:49 am

Congratulations, Sandy! The news is spreading around Grand Circle and we’re all proud of you…and can say “we knew you when…” Your photographs are beautiful!


Sandy Summers Russell - June 19, 2013 - 8:59 am

Thank you Leslie! I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you stopped by. Hugs to all of you. You all helped make me who I am today 🙂

Kim Fetrow - October 11, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Holy cow!! What an amazing honor! Congratulations!

Kayla & Ken : Spokane Engagement Portraits

Kayla & Ken are getting married this Saturday. Yay!!!! I’m so excited for it. They’re getting married in Richland, but since Ken lives in Spokane and Kayla will be moving there after the wedding, we did their engagement session in Spokane. I love Spokane! Did you know my dream newspaper to work for was the Spokesman Review? Seriously, it’s one of the best photo newspapers in the world. Then I met this certain cute farm boy, and well..the rest you know how that goes.

So anyhoo, off to Spokane we went. It was a loooong session. We were having too much fun to stop. For the first part we met at a rather well-know park. Apparently too well know as I counted no less than six photographers shooting there that night. Plus somebody was having a prom because I’m pretty sure your average teenage walk in the park doesn’t usually include ball gowns and tuxes.

I’m kind of spoiled living where I do because I never have to worry about working around other photographers. This place was just loaded with them. The funny thing is, though, I was the only one shooting where I was. I guess my brain just works differently (insert your snarky comment here folks; come-on, I totally gave you an opening).

OK, here’s my tip of the day people: get off the grass!!! Seriously, manicured lawns are boring. Go to the edges. Go to where there’s some character. Go to where they haven’t made a path yet (unless of course it makes really cool leading lines, aka see below). Get dirty, risk getting a tick on you. I swear it’ll be worth it. Just bring bug spray…lots and lots of bug spray. Just kidding…well kind of. OK, I’m not. Tip of the day number 2: bring bug spray.

Happy Shooting! Until next time….



Gen Levy - July 12, 2012 - 3:45 pm

Flash: 2, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15? 🙂

Sandy Summers Russell - July 15, 2012 - 10:56 am

Good job Gen you’re pretty close!
1) Reflector 2) Flash 3) Reflector 4-6) nothing 7) reflector (gold side) 8-10) reflector 11-18) Flash

Baby Photography London - March 16, 2013 - 6:45 am

Wonderful pictures! I love the mood you captured.
Congratulations on the great artwork!

Emma & Vincent: Tri-Cities Washington Family Photographer

Sweet, sweet Emma and her adorable baby brother Vincent. Don’t they both just have the most soulful eyes? I had the honor of photographing Emma and her cousin Michael last year. At the time, little Vincent was still a few weeks away from being born. Now just look at him; he’s 9 months old! I have to confess that the 7-month to 9-month age range is one of my very favorites to photograph. They’re sitting up really well, but they also not running off on you, so you can just snap away like crazy. Plus they’re still in that cute chubby baby phase. Oh! I just want to love em all up!

Scroll down below for some photography Q & A’s I’ve had thrown at me recently. If you’ve got a question for me shoot it to my Facebook Page, and you might just see it answered on a coming blog post!

If you’ve got a photography question I might just have the answer, so ask away!

From Chris M

Q: Looking at your photos, I would have guessed you were a 100% natural light photographer, but reading this post tells me you use that off camera flash sometimes. How often do you use it and do you take it with you on every shoot? Also your shots are all super tack sharp. What Nikon body and lenses do you use, I know you have to use the prime lenses…to be that sharp!??

A: I do take an off camera flash to every shoot, but I don’t always use it as it depends on the look I’m going for. I’m more likely to if it’s cloudy, the skies are cool and I want to preserve it (like sunset shots), a night time shoot, or a commercial shoot. I have been using it more since I got the D4 camera as it works seamlessly with the PocketWizard Flex. Approximately 70% of the time, though, I’m using a reflector because it’s quick and easy and it’s the most mobile with little kids. They’re all just a tool, and as an artist I want access to all brushes so that my vision isn’t limited by any one trick or skill.

I shoot a Nikon D4 and D3s. Up until march of this year, though, I was using two D2Hs bodies (old school baby!). When I’m shooting portraits I only use prime lenses (primarily the 85 1.4 and the 50 1.4). When I’m doing weddings or editorial work I’ll pull out my 17-35 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8. You can’t beat primes for their sharpness, lack of distortion, and beautiful bokeh.

From Rebecca

Q: I have a question about the umbrella … is it the shoot through white type or something else? Thanks for sharing .

A:  It’s just a plain old silver and white reflective umbrella. I use one of those most times. Sometimes I’ll use a small collapsible soft box or a brolly box too if it’s windy, I want a softer light, I’m gelling a light to make it colored, or I don’t want to worry about light bouncing back into my lens. If you keep it at a 45degree angle to your subject and you that’s usually not a problem.

From Bethany O

Q: I have two questions for you. First, you mentioned in a comment that you prefer a reflector over an external flash when you are photographing children. Have you figured out a way to handle the reflector yourself, or are you using an assistant? (I have found it difficult to manage a reflector on my own while chasing after the little ones.) Also, do you recommend any resources for learning natural-looking flash lighting? I think your flash lighting looks far more natural than examples I have observed in the couple of books I’ve perused about how to use flash. Thanks so much!!

A: Awww…thank you Bethany! I usually try to bring an assistant with me. It makes my life easier and the end product better. If one’s not available then I’ll use a parent. If that’s not possible then I’ll set a reflector up on a light stand and boom and/or use the strobe. I learned my off-camera techniques from my many years as a newspaper photojournalist. I like to keep the look subtle. When I’m using strobe it doesn’t steal the show, and the ambient light is still a large factor. If you’re interested in learning from me, I do offer one-on-one mentoring sessions, just e-mail me for details. Someone I look to for lighting inspiration is Joe McNally who I had the honor of meeting at the Eddie Adams Barnstorm workshop many years ago. He’s a rock star of the journalism world. Hope that helps 🙂

From Carrie E

Q: I shoot with the 700 but I have been thinking about getting the d3 or D4 for a while…have you noticed a huge difference?

A:  I love my D4 and I would recommend the D3s too (it’s the newer version of the D3). I picked one of them up used as a second body. I like them because they’re a much sturdier body and the vertical grip is built in, and I prefer to shoot with those. Where I live and work it’s really dusty, and I need something that can hold up. As far as difference, the D4 controls are set up a little different, the viewing screen is bigger, and I feel like the response time is faster. Do I think its better? Sure, but it’s all just a tool right? Up until March I was shooting everything with a pair of D2Hs I bought used in 2007 and those suckers were ancient, lol.



britneye ladner - June 28, 2012 - 6:31 am

Awesome shoot. They are just precious and the light is stunning. Loved the Q and A!

Ali Walke - June 29, 2012 - 6:37 am

These are just gorgeous! Wonderful portrait work.

Kristin Cook - July 19, 2012 - 8:24 am

Love this session! Fabulous images!

Corina K - December 4, 2012 - 12:54 am

Hi there, I’m wanting to know how much your session fee is and approximately how much you charge for prints. I have 4 young children that I’m wanting photographed. Thank you 🙂

Summerland Photography On the Loose!

When it rains it pours! Yay! I’m very honored to have been featured recently on two very cool photography blogs. Be sure to check them out! Rock The Shot Forum and Inspire Me Baby! It’s always an honor to be published with them, and to pass on a little bit of my know how to other photographers.