Laurel Mitchell Photography: Blog en-us (C) Laurel Mitchell Photography (Laurel Mitchell Photography) Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:15:00 GMT Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:15:00 GMT Laurel Mitchell Photography: Blog 120 90 Levi & Rachel {Arch Cape, Oregon Wedding & Elopement Photographer} Levi & Rachel {Arch Cape, Oregon Wedding & Elopement Photographer}



Styled Oregon beach wedding shoot.


Floral- Ondreya Floral, Blue Mountain Lavender Farm

Linens & Decor- A Ribbons Nest, Party Crush Studio, Amalfi Decor

Wedding Invitation Suite- Sue Baker of Moments in Time Events & Design

Event Coordination- Moments in Time Events & Design

Makeup & Hair- Makeup by Jazmin

Cake- Sweet Delights

Wedding Dress & Accessories- Laila Bridal Studio



Thank you for stopping by!

I absolutely LOVE photographing small intimate weddings and elopements like this one.

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Your visit to my page is always much appreciated!



Want to work with me? Click here to contact me, or follow me on Instagram if you don't need a photographer today, but are interested in working with me in the future. I can't wait to meet you!



(Laurel Mitchell Photography) adventure wedding photographer arch cape wedding beach elopement beach wedding coast wedding oregon elopement photographer oregon wedding oregon wedding photographer Thu, 27 Jul 2017 23:12:41 GMT
Why a Bridal Session is so Important to Include in Your Wedding Portraits

What is a Bridal Session?!

Bridal portrait sessions are a tradition where the bride takes portraits (typically 1-2 months before the wedding) in her full wedding day attire – hair, makeup, jewelry, veil, bouquet, and of course, the dress.  Generally a large portrait from the session is displayed at the reception near the wedding cake. In many cases the large photo is given as a gift to the Mother of the Bride after the wedding, with smaller photos being given to the Groom and the Father of the Bride, as well. Beyond tradition, consider the following reasons for a bridal session.


The Advantages of a Bridal Session.

Not only is a bridal session one of the few times that a woman gets to be primped and polished and have gorgeous portraits of herself taken, but it’s also a great trial run for the wedding day look. Most brides do a trial run of hair and makeup anyway– at least put that beauty to good use!

The majority of brides who do a bridal session end up changing something about their wedding day look after the bridal session.  Maybe they realized the dress was too big, or the shoes gave her blisters, or the eye makeup was too intense, or the hair kept falling in her eyes and annoying her, or the hydrangeas in the bouquet wilted and browned in the sun.  Each time, the bride was able to make adjustments BEFORE the wedding day.



Location, Location, Location!

Another great advantage of a bridal session is to have your dream wedding portrait taken at a location other than your wedding venue. This is your time to have your wedding portrait exactly the way you envision it. Make it unique!

If you are afraid of getting your dress dirty before the wedding, or would like some unique couple portraits with your new husband after the wedding a Trash the Dress session may be a great a alternative to the Bridal Session.

In either case, I encourage you to choose a location that is unique to you. Perhaps you have always envisioned yourself in a free flowing wedding gown surrounded by a field of flowers, or perhaps you are drawn to a classical, elegant side lite portrait under a cathedral ceiling. If you don't have anything specific in mind ask your wedding photographer- they may know of some unique locations!



Make your wedding extra special with beautiful portraits you can look back on and take the opportunity to showcase your beautiful wedding dress and accessories!

Getting married this year, or know someone who is? Contact me for wedding portrait packages and I will happily send you more information!

View my wedding showcase gallery here and information for brides here.


Enjoy life's adventures!


Laurie (Laurel) Mitchell












































(Laurel Mitchell Photography) NW Weddings Waterfall wedding adventure weddings bohemian wedding bridal session columbia river gorge wedding dog creek falls engagement session oregon outdoor wedding portland oregon wedding photographer vancouver washington wedding photographer washington wedding inspiration Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:56:22 GMT
A Year in Review Now that a new year is about to turn the corner it is interesting to look back over the last year and see what images can sum it up. I have always been interested in photographs and the art of photography. As a child, my walls were always covered in photographs, mostly of horses. Over the years I have been drawn toward landscape, wildlife and portraiture photography. During 2016 I started my own photography company, including this blog and my website

I graduated from Washington State University Vancouver in May of this year with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with concentrations in Fine Art, English and Administrative Studies with a minor in Business Administration. While I was attending the university several of my images were selected for publication in art journals and student art shows. I was also hired, at the recommendation of several of my art instructors, by the university's Marketing and Communications department as a part- time photographer. I photographed faculty head shots, students for featured articles, university events, and stock photos. Many of my images were published in the university's marketing material, website and magazine. Beyond the university, my work has also been published in Cake Magazine. Becoming a published photographer gives a great sense of accomplishment, but also humility.

This year has blessed me with many opportunities for travel and photography. With my husband, Andrew, I have also been able to set out on local photography adventures nearly every weekend, often times joined by our little Aussie dog Lady. Andrew and I love the snow and mountains- any chance we get we are snowshoeing and photographing around Mt Hood. This is a photo from one of those many weekend trips to the mountain at the beginning of 2016 titled Crown of Hood.

Crown of HoodCrown of Hood

Every year for Andrew's birthday in March we go to the Alvord desert for a week to photograph. We are usually joined on these annual trips by Andrew's Dad, who is also an avid photographer and amazing artist & graphic designer. This trip rewarded us with an incredible rain, wind and dust storm on our last day after a week of boring skies. This is image is titled After The Storm Comes A Calm. After the Storm Comes a CalmAfter the Storm Comes a Calm


After graduation, I headed to Florida to visit my Dad for a week. Of course I brought my camera. While on an air boat ride through the Everglades I was able to capture some of the wildlife. If you look closely you will see that there is a dragonfly perched on the branch opposite of the seahawk... a very unexpected surprise I came across while editing the photo!

Flight of The OspreyFlight of The Osprey Lurking in the EvergladesLurking in the Everglades

Soon after coming back from Florida, Andrew and I headed up to the Olympic National Forest. In less than a week I had traveled from the further most points of the United States from Key West to Tatoosh Island off the Olympic Peninsula. My favorite image from this trip was captured while we were waiting for sunset and killing time watching the wildlife at a marina. The fishermen would boat out to an island and dump fish scraps for the sealions, eagles, seahawks, and seagulls to fight over. Many people drove out to the marina just to sit and watch the birds flying overhead and see if they could spot the sealions popping up nearby. I titled this image Wings as Eagles. The two seagulls flying around this eagle seemed to soar, inspired by the company they kept.

Wings as EaglesWings as Eagles

Over the 4th of July weekend Andrew and I went on a 3 day backpacking trip in Mt Hood's wilderness area. Rather than fighting the crowds to watch fireworks, we sought solitude and nature's own display of lights. This image is aptly titled Freedom in celebration of the what our great nation continues to fights for.


Another noteworthy photo trip we took this year was a three day kayak camping trip on Sparks Lake. You can read about the full adventure here. I have not yet titled this image- any suggestions? Sparks KayaksSparks Kayaks


During the summer I was approached to photograph a styled wedding photoshoot at a waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. I was thrilled at the offer and was amazed at how beautifully this Bohemian wedding photoshoot was. You can see the full story here. The following are a few personal favorites from the session.

Andrew and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in August. We took the top of our wedding cake out of the freezer and embarked on a multi day photography trip up to Mt Rainer. This image is from inside an ice cave we discovered among the melting glaciers. The blue and green hues that came from under the ice were absolutely incredible!

Our biggest photography adventure of the year was a three week trip to the Southwest. We spent a week with master landscape photographer and good friend Mark Metternich. This was our first time photographing in the Southwest and Mark graciously showed us some of his favorite places to photograph and lead photo tours. Mark also introduced us to Dotty Molt, another great photographer who we quickly became good friends with. We had so much fun on this trip thanks to Mark and Dotty! The many laughs and adventures we shared together were the highlight of the trip in my opinion, although we did get some great photos. This is an image titled Rain of Fire captured in Utah as a storm blew over Andrew and I on our way to Zion National Park.  Rain of FireRain of Fire

The next morning we awoke to this beautiful view after pulling off the side of the road to sleep for the night. This image is titled Long Dirt Road. JourneyJourney One of the most amazing places on earth is the Grand Canyon. We witnessed an amazing sunset from the North Rim, this is an intimate shot before the real lightshow began on the horizon. This image is titled Grand Intimate.

Grand IntimateGrand Intimate There are many unedited images from the many weekends spent exploring the Pacific Northwest, but I will leave you with my most recent. Andrew and I got up very early in the morning and drove two hours to make it to this location for sunrise. The clouds were not in our favor, but the recent snow covering the trees and the light of twilight made this moment beautiful. This image has been shared by Oregon's Mt Hood Territory and has received over 2k "likes" on Instagram and Facebook. Not a bad way to end the year if you ask me! The title of this image is Twilight Veil. Twilight VeilTwilight Veil


Thank you for following and supporting my photography over 2016. These images are the ones that stand out the most in my mind over the year and are in the order in which they happened. For me the adventure surrounding capturing a photo is almost as rewarding as the photo itself. Getting a good photo is just the cherry on top. I can not wait to see what adventures 2017 will bring!

Enjoy life's adventures!

Laurie Mitchell







(Laurel Mitchell Photography) 2016 arizona bohemian wedding dog creek falls grand canyon landscape photography mt hood olympic national forest olympics oregon pacific northwest southwest utah washington wedding photography wildlife photography year in review Fri, 30 Dec 2016 17:26:34 GMT
Bohemian Wedding Styled Photoshoot I was contacted by event planner Krystal Haak at Moments In Time Events and Design earlier in the year to see if I would be interested in photographing a styled wedding shoot over the summer. She and several other vendors were coming together to create a Bohemian styled wedding to showcase our small businesses. I was very excited and honored to be offered the opportunity to collaborate on this Bohemian Wedding styled photo shoot, especially at a waterfall in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge! I am still amazed at the detail and amount of work that went into creating this wonderful and colorful styled wedding shoot. After scouting a few locations in the Gorge we decided that Dog Creek Falls would be a perfect location for a Bohemian Wedding and scheduled the shoot for July 29th. The vendors and models did such an amazing job in creating these photos!

As a wedding, portrait, wildlife and landscape photographer, I am so pleased to be able to combine genres to create unique photo opportunities for clients. In search of amazing landscapes and wildlife, I have come across several scenic and unique locations like this one for client portraits in the Pacific Northwest. I am especially excited for fall color emerging on the trees now and snow soon after. Stay tuned for a special Winter Wedding styled photo shoot. Now that the end of summer is coming to a close it is not too late to book for a fall or winter wedding!

The following photos are just some of my personal favorites from our Bohemian Wedding styled photo shoot, to view the entire photo session click here, under my featured photo albums.

Photography by Laurel Mitchell Photography

Floral by
Lucy's Informal Flowers

Invitation by Invitations by Liv

Hair by Subi Salon @tifaniblouin

Makeup by Taylor Hendrickson

Decor by
Wilderness Inspirations and Moments In Time Events and Design

Cake and Desserts by Sweet Delights by Krystal

Models Jazmin, Leann & Jessica



(Laurel Mitchell Photography) bohemian bride bohemian bridesmaid bohemian wedding boho wedding columbia river gorge dog creek falls flower crown gorge waterfalls oregon portland photographer styled shoot vancouver photographer washington waterfall wedding wedding photographer Thu, 08 Sep 2016 02:26:15 GMT
Lessons in Kayak Camping Welcome!

I have decided to start a blog to share all the information I have learned that surrounds my photography and give behind the scenes insights. Since I do a wide range of photography, from portraits and weddings to landscape and wildlife, there is a wide range of topics that I will cover in future blogs that might appeal to all or a few of you. My husband and I are adventure junkies, and because he is also a landscape photographer, we get to nerd out together over photography equipment, backpacking/ hiking gear and our love for the Pacific Northwest. We also have a little adventure dog, an Australian Shepherd named Lady, who goes with us on most of our trips. Our most recent trip over the weekend was our first time kayak camping at beautiful Sparks Lake in Central Oregon. It only seems fitting to discuss in this first blog what is involved in kayak camping, backpacking recipes that worked well and what we’ve discovered to do differently next time.


This was only our second time kayaking, but we felt confident enough that we could take what we learned from backpacking and apply it to the weight and space limitations that come with taking only what you need into a remote location. Our trip was planned for four days and three nights. However, we lost most of the first day because we had just decided to do the trip the day before and were unprepared. We spent the morning packing our gear, preparing meals, and loading the kayaks. In a true Laurie moment, after an hour on the road I also realized I forgot to pack half of our food, so we had to stop for some groceries along the way. I am very organized and a list fanatic, but if it isn’t written down I usually forget it. I go through post-its like crazy and the most used app on my phone is my Notes. Later on the trip, I also realized I forgot to bring my headlamp, mosquito net, and sunscreen. From this experience, I have learned to create reference lists of everything we will need for each type of trip that can be checked off before hitting the road.

We had been talking about a photography trip to Sparks Lake near Bend, Oregon ever since we bought our kayaks. It worked out that we were able to take some time off work to go on this adventure sooner than planned, so we jumped at the opportunity. We have been to Sparks Lake a few times and are always amazed at it's beauty. The lake is a common attraction for landscape photographers. Sparks Lake is perfect for kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. It is a shallow lake that was created when Mt. Bachelor blew 10,000 years ago and indirectly feeds the Deschutes river. The lake is constantly draining through the lava flow into underground tables and springs, which keeps the water level low. It is beautifully surrounded by three major volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains-  Mt. Bachelor, South Sister and Broken Top- all of which can be seen from on the lake as it narrows and widens along the valley. There are several islands and inlets to explore with the deepest part of the lake being 10' on the south side and the shallowest part only inches deep on the north side. If you get stuck in the sand on this side of the lake you have to get out and walk the boat to deeper water. There are no designated swimming areas- cold glacial water feeds the lake and the lava is extremely sharp. There are camp sites along the lake that are easily accessible by road. Campsites only accessible by watercraft are fewer and hard to get. Fly fishing is the only fishing allowed at the lake. There are lots of Canadian geese and a variety of ducks that live on the lake. We also saw a bald eagle, osprey, deer, chipmunks, frogs, tadpoles and a snake swimming across the water.

Screenshot Screenshot

Gear We Brought

While packing, our biggest challenge was fitting everything into dry sacks and keeping it lightweight. We decided to take our backpacking cookware, a Jet Boil and GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Ultralight Cookset, rather than a camp stove and larger cookware. We opted for dehydrated and nonperishable food since space was limited. Afterward, we decided next time we would bring a small cooler to keep drinks and a few perishable items in for more options.  We were able to fit all our food and cookware in two 21”x 12” odor-proof barrier bags to keep from attracting wildlife into our campsite, both bags fit in a 20L dry sack. Everything else we fit into 3- 35L and 3- 20L dry sacks. We were both surprised that our gear did not add much weight or affect the water level against our kayaks by much.


List of additional gear we brought: 

  • 2 person REI backpacking tent
  • Mountain Hardwear down mummy sleeping bags
  •  Backpacking air mattresses
  • A small tarp
  • Water filter system and steripen (we filled our bottles twice from the lake after running out)
  • Several Nalgene water bottles
  • Bug spray
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dish soap
  • Ultralight cutting board
  • Small knife
  • 2 utensils
  • Small spatula
  • Paracord
  • Battery for phone charger
  • Map
  • First aid kit   
  • Emergency kit (matches, compass, whistle, etc)
  • Ibuprofen, Tylenol and Tums (necessities after age 30 :( )
  • Wet wipes (counted out for each day in a ziplock bag)
  • Cameras
  • Wide angle and telephoto lenses
  • ND filters
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra memory cards
  • Tripods
  • Lens cloths
  • Shutter Releases
  • Kayaks
  • Paddles
  • Lifejackets
  • Sponges


We each wore a pair of Kuhl brand convertible hiking pants, t-shirt, flip flops, trendy trucker hats and sunglasses. The only other clothing we each brought was a thin long sleeve shirt, changes of socks and underwear, a thermal top and bottom, Goretex shell, warm down coat, and Goretex boots. Our clothes bag also served as a pillow.

Dog Gear

For Lady we brought enough food in a Ziploc bag for her normal two meals a day plus an extra midday meal since she’s much more active on trips. We also brought her coat for the cool nights and a couple of towels to dry her off with. We normally pack along some doggie aspirin in our emergency kit as well for bee stings or stiff joints/pain. On one trip she jumped out of the truck, landed sideways and injured her back. The aspirin and resting in the truck helped her recover much faster. She sleeps between Andrew and I at night in her coat and can get under one of our sleeping bags to stay warm. Eventually we want to get her a lightweight doggie sleeping bag especially for the colder seasons. We keep a bear bell attached to her collar when we go on trips so we can keep track of her when she is off leash and she makes it jingle enough to warn any wild animals of our approach. We of course always bring a leash and put her on it if there are other people or dogs around, or if we are hiking in cougar or bear country.


Ok, now for the most important topic- food! The backpacking food that we try to take is yummy, healthy, high calorie, lightweight, and low processed. We have tried some prepackaged meals from the store that were either too salty to eat, or made us sick, so we have learned to make and package our own backpacking meals. I can tell you it is no fun being four hours from the car and another few hours drive to a town when you find out the food you brought isn’t edible! At home we normally eat protein, fresh veggies and fruit. Grains, sugars and processed foods normally make me sick, so we keep them to a minimum at home. While backpacking, grains and carbs are a necessity to keep energy levels sustained, so I’ve tried to find some whole grain and healthy backpacking recipes that we actually enjoy and look forward to eating on our trips.


We buy quick oats and dried fruit from the bulk bins at Winco and prepackage them in Ziploc bags for each morning. It makes mornings easy to just heat up some water to add and have a hot breakfast. Andrew and I are not happy morning people until we get a good cup of coffee. Going without or instant coffee does not make us happy people. We have started using a French press system that works with our Jet Boil. The concept of a French press seems simple enough, but we have struggled with lots of grounds in our coffee. We are still finessing our technique, but by the end of this trip we had minimal grounds. Yay! We both also love our flavored creamers and prefer not to drink black coffee or powdered creamers. We have found a good replacement to our normal creamers in a 3oz bottle of French vanilla Nestle Coffeemate 2Go that does not need to be refrigerated. Lunch

We bring smoked salmon for lunch on the first day (before it goes bad) and pair it with hard cheese and multi-grain crackers. The other days we pair dry salami, a hard cheese, multi-grain crackers and smoked sun dried tomatoes. Hard cheese has been aged and does not need to be refrigerated. We have found that Fred Meyer or Chuck's Produce has the best cheese selection. Smoked cheddar is our favorite! These meals are great for midday. You do not have to stop while hiking and dig out cookware and dishes since it is finger food. We cut and prepackage the meat and cheese in Ziploc bags so it is easier to eat on the trail.


We always seem to bring too many snacks, but it is the one thing that can keep you going in between meals or if you stay an extra day (by choice or not). We get all of our trail mix from the bulk bins at Winco and make our own gorp. Andrew suffers from low blood sugar from time to time so he likes to add chocolate covered raisins and walnuts to his trail mix to get it back up quick. I only like cashews or peanuts so I make my own blend with toffee peanuts, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, yogurt balls, and caramel/chocolate chips. I also bring a few quinoa Kind bars and Andrew brings a few Cliff bars. Sometimes we’ll bring a couple of candy bars, or leave them in the car as a reward to look forward to at the end of our hike.


Dinners have proven to be a tricky meal to make healthy, lightweight and yummy. Most people suggest boxed pasta like mac and cheese or something similar, but I simply get too sick from it because I’m not used to processed food or pasta. However, with that said, Andrew and I really like a simple 3 ingredient recipe that we enjoy on our first night out. Ravioli from the refrigerator case, pesto, and sun dried tomatoes. I repackage the ravioli for less waste and freeze it the night before and put about 2oz of pesto in a travel bottle to add that night. Heat the ravioli up in the Jet Boil with a little bit of water then add the pesto and sundried tomatoes and stir. It is important to constantly stir the Ravioli or it gets stuck to the bottom and is hard to clean.   

On this trip we tried 2 new recipes that I’ve had my eye on for awhile. The second night we had Cous Cous with Chicken and Vegetables. See the recipe here and for how we cooked it in a freezer bag. Cous cous is a type of "rice"made from wheat or barely, it is surprisingly very tasty! It is perfect for backpacking as it is extremely light and cooks instantly. The nutrition value is also good for backpacking. The grain at 38g is carb heavy and has 6g of protein, but only has 176 calories!  Additionally, it contains selenium, which is lacking from the soil that food from the Pacific Northwest is grown in. The grain also contains potassium which helps with proper muscle function on the trail. I found it in the bulk bins at Winco. I would like to try a different vegetable blend with this recipe to give it some added flavor.

The third night we had Curry Rice with Chicken and Cashews. See the recipe here and for how we cooked it in a freezer bag. Andrew gave this meal an A+. You can find instant brown rice at most grocery stores. Normal rice takes too long to cook in a Jet Boil, but the instant rice only has to sit for 5 minutes. I doubled the recipe for both of these since the recipes are only for 1 person, but I wouldn’t add as much rice next time. We had left overs and Andrew even had a second helping.  For both of these recipes we found freeze dried veggies at Whole Foods, but could not find freeze dried chicken anywhere. So we ended up getting precooked grilled chicken that just needs to be heated up and kept it in an insulated lunch bag with some ice.

I did not like the freeze dried vegetable blend we found at the store. I don’t like carrots or peas, which it had. I suppose I’m discovering I’m somewhat of a picky eater! Regardless, I am going to start dehydrating our own vegetables for 2 reasons- I can customize them to our tastes and Whole Foods is too expensive (I dislike ordering food online because that takes planning).  I am also going to try dehydrating chicken. I will follow up with what I have discovered in a later blog.

Nature Brings Out the Best in People

While we were kayak camping on a beach on the far side of Sparks Lake we met lots of very friendly kayakers and paddle boarders. One group of older folks asked us if we would share our beach with them while they stopped to eat lunch and let our dogs play together. They had a little border collie named Brady, who Lady hit it off with right away. They had a blast running up and down the beach and swimming after Brady’s ball, until Lady started taking the ball and hiding it in the woods. We failed as pet parents and forgot to bring her ball on the trip. The dog’s owners were a very nice group and gave us a bag of kale chips and a little honey bear of apricot honey they had bought at a farmers market. The kale chips are surprisingly addictive with oil and salt! I am a chip-aholic. I don’t buy them because I know I will eat the whole bag by myself. Unfortunately, Andrew discovered my addiction early in our marriage when he brought a bag of chips into the house and didn’t get to eat them. I would like to start making some kale chips as a healthier alternative to have on hand when chips do make it into the house… and so Andrew can enjoy some chips too.


Next Time

So what would we do differently on our next kayak camping trip? Bring water socks or shoes! It was difficult for Andrew to climb around on lava rocks in sandals while photographing and he was in the water pulling my kayak up onto shore and shoving me off while getting tiny pebbles stuck between his toes. I almost fell over a few times when my flip flops were sucked down into the wetlands while photographing sunset and proceeded to splash mud all over my backside while trying to get unstuck. We also decided a hammock, or some sort of small compact camp chair, would be a nice luxury for the time spent in camp. We spent our down time sitting or laying on the small tarp, there were lots of big carpenter ants along the lake so it helped keep them at bay. I started using my lifejacket to sit on, but it still wasn’t very comfortable. We had a lot of down time waiting to photograph between the magic hours of sunrise and sunset, even after kayaking on the lake during the mornings. In the same sense, bringing a book to read would add to the relaxation of the trip. Although it was nice to just let the mind drift to nothingness, until boredom set in.


We were rewarded with some beautiful photos on our last night! All the photos in this blog are shot with my iPhone, some are offered for print in my Behind the Scenes gallery. Look for fine art photos from this adventure in my Landscapes gallery.

Hopefully you get some ideas for your next adventure from what we’ve learned and can try out the recipes for yourself. I would be happy to hear what you think of them.

Enjoy life’s adventures!

(Laurel Mitchell Photography) adventure backpacking backpacking gear backpacking recipes bend broken top camping camping with dogs cascades central oregon gooutside kayak camping kayaking kayaking with dogs lake landscape photography mountains mt bachelor nature nature photography oregon pacific northwst photography south sister sparks lake three sisters wanderlust Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:29:34 GMT