Hello Goodbye


29. This one is a hard one to write. For those of you who have never seen her face, but have talked with her many, many times, this is my Studio Manager, Heidi. Spoiler alert: she’s also my sister. Five years and a few months ago, I called Heidi and said “I’ve got to take a break – would you be interested in working with me for just a month? I just need you to answer emails, assure my clients that I will be back and ready to go in the spring, and I will be back from the mountains soon.” She was in the process of planning a wedding and had just quit her job, and so an arrangement was, well, arranged. It was gratefully the slow season, and I needed to trust someone else with my “baby” while I checked out and checked back in with myself.

I came back from a several week trip through Colorado, to find my back-end systems totally organized, and a calm driver rolling along, waving delightedly, and handling it all with grace and professionalism. From Los Angeles.

We never anticipated working together for this long. Not really. But she’s too good to let go. And I’m so grateful for her. For her undying support. Her pride in her work(wo)manship. Her absolute faith and optimism in what we do at Stacey Vaeth Photography. For dragging me into the age of technology, even when I wanted to stay in the days of a hand-written calendar and when texting didn’t exist.

She comes from the world of tech, where businesses change at a breakneck pace. I come from a line of artists, where hanging onto our art and building heritage through it can sometimes be an eternal quest. We educated and challenged each other, while both staying true to our strengths, our beliefs, and most importantly, our sisterhood.

Heidi, you’re an inspiration to me. I could not have asked for a more beautiful transition into having an employee, something I never thought I would want. You’ve taught me that freeing your grip does not have to be scary, and that two minds are better, and a hell of a lot more fun, than one.

Love you girl. As you transition to being a mom of two young ones and a nurturing a couple of older ones too, I’m so proud to be your sister and their Auntie, once again.

P.S. Heidi is (obviously) transitioning out of our Studio Manager role this winter. The part time opening for her position is open through January 20th. We’re so excited for this next chapter and new team member!





Oh, Mary Oliver


28. Mary Oliver, a poet who I wished had been a friend, passed today at age 83. Thank you, you wise, accessible, brave woman. Your words inspired and supported me at so many turns in the road. In reading your work, I was always reminded that simply noticing the natural world really can change everything. An act of such stunning logic that yet is lost on so many. Thank you for leaving us with so much.
Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Song of the Builders
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

In the Meantime

smalljpg27. Alicia and her Dad, at her wedding. Some couples are doing away with traditions that don’t represent them, interrupt the flow of their wedding day, or are outdated. This first dance with Dad is never one of them. I can see a lifetime of memories frozen in his face in this photo. In the way that she’s holding onto his neck, him onto her back. The guests are politely observing (or not paying attention at all) as he holds on for this symbolic last time. Transitioning her from the old days of their immediate family, to the new configuration of two. Two families, two histories, two priorities. For now though, it’s just him and his daughter, lost in thought and meaning. Lost in what must feel like the blink of an eye. But what’s around the bend, while different than the past, are not the days of ownership and dowry and distance. We’re in this beautiful new place on the planet when lives can expand to hold so many in a single heart.

Lacing up Your Shoes

families21526. I can hear John’s Irish brogue, telling his son what needs to be done before our  session begins. We need to put on our shoes before we go out with Miss Stacey. She’s going to take our picture today. Photography trains the eye (or does the eye train the photographer?) to see. To notice. The small details become incredibly powerful when the light hits them right.


Make it Look Easy

25. Wedding photography has a reputation of sorts, and not a great one. I think that people feel like it’s a second choice. Like you really wanted to be a sports photographer, but failed, so got stuck doing weddings. Those people have no idea what they are talking about. Shooting a wedding is like being on Top Chef. Here is your basket:

200 people you don’t know

3 locations with distinct lighting and space challenges (remind me to tell you about the time I had to stand on a radiator for the cocktail hour to get any usable shots)

A ‘must shoot’ list that at times requires you to be in two places at the same time

Zero chance for a re-do.


I love shooting weddings. They continually make me earn my place as a photographer. Technical knowledge and on-demand creativity is required, in addition to a sensitivity with people, a sense of calm, and serious physical stamina. In Ryan and Stepanie’s wedding, I wanted to capture their intimate details in a unique way. This image is of Ryan’s dad giving a deeply heartfelt toast. I had already covered their expressions and moved around. Ryan reached over and grabbed Stephanie’s hand, kissed it, and then her, as his Dad was sending them off in this rite of passage. Having my lights in the right place, and putting myself there too, gave me this image. Which might seem simple. But in that simplicity there is the true story of the evening.


Art in the Everyday

24. It might not be for everyone, but there is something that I’ve always loved about this image. This is Victoria and her twin girls, waiting for their session to begin. I had just finished with a previous client, and looked across the way to see them – a splash fountain between us. So I just took a shot. Frozen in time like this, I feel like I’m looking through glass that had been splatter painted, and that they could be anything, really, paper dolls, a drawing, a painting. It delights me to no end to create something new, something I’ve never done before and didn’t plan. It doesn’t happen every shoot, or every day, but when it does, those are the ones I hang onto.


Little Faces Watching Me


23. Sometimes, while I’m working, I’ll turn to see a version of this stare. Watching to see how and what I’m doing, as my camera is trained on something other than them (and in their house, no less). I admit that when I catch these glimpses, I hope that they’ll store away that little moment of curiosity, and pick up a camera someday. 0034small