Soulful portraits


This is my mom with my daughter.  There are now once again three generations of women in my immediate family.  It makes me think of my grandmother and how special she was to me. I cherish the photos I have of myself with her.  Since she passed away four years ago I keep them all over my house, reminding me that she’s still here, just in a different way.  I want to give this gift to more families – the gift of multigenerational portraits with real soul.  I want my daughter to have this gift when she’s older – a small reminder of all the love her grandmother gave her right from the beginning of her life.  We don’t know how long we really have with our parents, which is why it’s so important to capture their smiles and cuddles while we can.

IMG_6452My mom took this photo of me and my daughter.  I handed the camera over to her after I photographed her without her shirt on.  I’ve always wanted to do that kind of work with my mom.  To show off the body that carried me and my sisters and brought us into this world.  At first she was nervous and self-conscious but after a while she was joyfully laughing and all I could see was her beauty, not the scars or her belly that she usually hides away.  I thought it was only fair that she get behind the lens and that I should be as brave as she was.  It’s hard when our bodies don’t look like the ones we see in the main stream media.  We are not photoshopped.  We do not have personal trainers.  We are mothers with scars and stretch marks.   But the more we (meaning myself and all the other artists and photographers doing this work) add these authentic images to mix, then the more likely they are to become the new normal in the future.


This is the work I want to do. I want to photograph women and children, families and relatives, in a way that captures the joy and hope that lives in our homes.  Please call/text or email me to talk about I can help you share your family’s story.



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Every family has a story. Let me help share yours.


My family is just like yours.  We have people we have loved and people we have lost.  We have happy memories and we have had hard times.  Some days are a breeze and some days we just stumble and try to pull ourselves back up.  I love my children but sometimes they drive me crazy.

Everyone always says the days are long but the years are short.  I couldn’t agree more.  I still love looking through our old family albums and sometimes I can’t believe that was really me with such thick curly red hair.

There is a photo of me at 3 years old sleeping in the wooden rocking chair.  Now my 3 year old sits in the same chair.  I take a photo.  There is a picture of my little sister covered in stuffed animals.  Now my sister and I cover our own kids with stuffed animals.  And we take their pictures.  These photos are so important to me and while I try not to get stuck in the past, it’s so nice to look back and remember where we came from.

I love looking at the picture of my parents when they were young — my mom’s hair was long and red, my dad’s was black and curly.  I want my kids to remember me like I am now — young and strong and hopeful.  And tired and stressed and real too.  I don’t know what I’ll be like when I’m older.  I hope I’m wiser.  But I’ll never be like I am now.  A picture can’t capture it all but it is worth a thousand words.

I’d love to work with you and your family to capture and bottle just a little bit of the magic that’s happening right now so that you can look back one day at it and appreciate it for what it is – a moment in time that’s just yours.  Your legacy.  Your roots.  Your wings.

Please email me or call/text me to talk about a family portrait session — I can make it work for you. / (732) 713-8473 (I am in Portland, Oregon — that’s just my New Jersey number that I refuse to give up = Roots.) You can see more of my work here:




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SmartyPants Turns 2!

IMG_2480I remember the day SmartyPants opened two years ago.  My son was one year old and I thought that I had hit the jackpot — this is in OUR neighborhood!  And indeed it has been a ray of sunshine on rainy winter days and one of our favorite places to go and play throughout his childhood.  It’s owned by Amber Gauntlett, a mama of two herself.  How she has managed to start and grow a business as diverse and exciting as this is so inspiring to me.  Her children are a little older than mine so I feel like there’s hope for me that one day my business will also bloom and grow as hers has.  There’s so much going on at SmartyPants that it’s easy to spend hours there painting, molding, coloring, crafting, and of course playing in the rainbow rice, my favorite staple activity.  I was so grateful for the opportunity to document their birthday celebration and I hope we’re doing that for many years to come.  Please go to to learn more.

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Back to School Family Portrait Mini Sessions


I’m a mother of two and even though my kids are still small I understand that going back to school is a hectic time.  But the beginning of the school year can also restore some much needed routine to everyone’s life.  It feels like the right time to capture what our families look like today!  So I’m scheduling 8 family portrait mini sessions on Saturday, September 16th and Sunday, September 17th at Arbor Lodge Park.  (4 each morning)


Arbor Lodge Park (off N. Greeley between N. Bryant and N. Dekum)

September 16th and 17th between 8:30 am and 11:30 am

20-30 minutes each


Includes 3 images

Please email me or call/text (732) 713-8473 to schedule time between 8:30 am and 11:30 am on either Saturday or Sunday.  Rain dates will be the following weekend.  If we’ve recently worked together and you refer someone who books a session, I’ll gift you a free framed print from our shoot as a thank you!


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101 Breast Places to Feed Your Baby in Portland

I just saw a picture of Kendall Jenner at the Met Gala that left nothing to the imagination.  And yet this is considered high fashion.  So why is it unfashionable to breastfeed a baby in a public space?  I just read a post on Facebook where one woman harshly criticized another for breastfeeding in public without covering herself up.  How is this STILL just not a normal everyday scene for so many people?

First of all, most of the time there’s very little to see when a woman is actually breastfeeding.  The baby’s head usually covers most of her breast.  Second, so what if you see a breast here or there?!  Most of us watch certain television shows just to see them.  Millions are definitely using the internet to find them.  Why is it that when some people see a mother breastfeeding her child in a coffee shop it is all of a sudden offensive?  This boggles my mind and fills me with frustration over the hypocrisy of it all.

So I’m starting a new photo series: 101 Breast Places to Feed Your Baby in Portland.  My goal is to help normalize breastfeeding in public places and help make women feel safe if this is what they choose for their families.  I have nothing against bottle feeding or covering up, but for those of us who don’t like putting a blanket over our children’s heads I intend to show a lot of how it’s done.  And where it can be done — which legally is ANYWHERE.

Sea Star Bakery on N. Killingsworth Street:


Special thanks to Michelle and baby Aurelia (almost 1 year old).



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“She Inspires 365”: A great gift for Mother’s Day!

SheInspires365 Moms Arbor Lodge

In honor of Mother’s Day 2017 I wanted to do something special: I wanted to capture a moment in time.  A moment with the mothers in my neighborhood who have met and become friends because of Harper’s Playground.  A moment with the women and children who have become my lifeline since I became a mom.  If it was not for these women I may have slipped into a dark place.  They saved me from loneliness and made me feel loved and accepted.  They never judged me.  They have fed me, loved my children, shared their homes, and showed up for us on a daily basis.  This is what community looks like.

It’s also a moment when we are all breastfeeding our children, from eleven weeks to three years old.  At first I thought this was a great idea.  And then I worried about how we would wrangle so many little ones at the same time AND try to breastfeed them for a photo.  But it must have been meant to be because as soon as we asked all the kids to gather, they became focused and quiet.  It was magical!  It was peaceful and quiet for five whole minutes!  Some of them even pretended to nurse their baby dolls.  I think the magic comes from the wonder that is breastfeeding.  And we did it in public!

Thank you to moms everywhere for all the magical things you do every day.  And if you’re looking for a gift for a special mom in your life this Mother’s Day please consider the book “She Inspires 365”.  You can order it on or you can pick one up at Powell’s in Portland.  They are just $25.

Children nurse baby dolls


Thank you to moms: Amy, Dee, Elise, Eve, and Phoebe and all our beautiful children!

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Books are now available at Powell’s!

She Inspires 365 — the book — is now available for purchase at Powell’s in Portland, Oregon and online through!   If you have a few spare minutes and would be willing to post a *positive* review on the Powell’s website, I’d be forever grateful.  Thank you so much for helping me get She Inspires 365 out to a larger audience!  One small step at a time …


Sandra Elverud and her son, Timothy: Day 1 of She Inspires 365.

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The definition of *inspire*




1. to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

2. breathe in (air); inhale.

This photograph was taken for Sisters Empowering Sisters, an inspiring organization in Washington, D.C. that has created a supportive and empowering community for women in recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues and trauma.

I’ve been thinking so much about the idea of *inspire* lately.  I like the definition above and I think this photo captures some of that, especially because she is working on her poetry.

What (or who) inspires you?

If this project inspires you at all, please share it with someone in your life.  If someone in your life inspires you, please consider giving She Inspires 365, the book, to them :).

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she inspires continues …

Native Portrait Project 1

I’ve always wanted to continue the She Inspires project beyond 365.  I realized recently that in a way I do: my work as a freelance photographer and documentary producer has given me the opportunity to travel around the world, mostly photographing women and documenting the work of social justice organizations that advocate on behalf of women.  I’ve worked with World Pulse, YWCA, Sisters Empowering Sisters, and Video/Action, with whom I’ve recently completed a series of documentaries entitled, “A Circle of Healing for Native Children Endangered by Drugs.”  This is a photo from that series taken in Bethel, Alaska:


I also generate as much of my own work as possible through the help of grants.  Just before my son was born I received a project grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to create a collection of images that features emerging leaders in the Native American community of Portland.  However, many of the people I photographed just happen to be Native Americans who are becoming leaders in the greater Portland community.  The photograph (top) is of Roberta Ortiz and her son riding a bus in Portland.  Roberta is an advocate for breastfeeding mothers.

The photo, along with my own experiences breastfeeding my son, helped inspire my next project, which I promised myself I wouldn’t start until I finished the She Inspires 365 book.  It’s tentatively titled: “The 50 Best Places to Breastfeed in Portland”.  It will feature images similar to this one: everyday women breastfeeding their children in public places.  The goal is normalize breastfeeding and create positive images to add to the controversial discussions surrounding breastfeeding.  I’m so excited for this project and to create these images!

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