Tuesday, July 28, 2015
By Sheri Van Wert
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You've seen Baby Elise here on the blog before (back in November) when I shared images from her adorable Newborn Session. Her 9-month milestone session took place at Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. It is always a gorgeous location with many nooks in which to explore. Mom and dad brought the Radio Flyer ingenious way to transport the kids and kid supplies from the parking lot through the gardens. I, of course, found a way to incorporate it into the session as a great prop for this sweet growing girl. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2015
By Sheri Van Wert
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Baby Ella just turned one and she is as cute as ever! If you are curious to see her transition throughout this year, you can click here to view her 6 month portraits at Christmas time, or my post chronicling her very beginnings.

Ella's one year session took place on a piece of family property in the Sacramento Valley. It was a hot, yet gorgeously cloudy afternoon as we set forth to commemorate Ella's 1st birthday in pictures. The outfits, the props, and the location came together wonderfully!

Planning for, organizing and executing multiple portrait sessions per year with a toddler and a baby is certainly hard work, and yet Erica was dedicated to the process, and is grateful to have made this happen for her and her family. Now she is able to look back at her baby's first years of life with joy. She said to me that so many parents she talks to say that not having professional portraits of their children as babies is one of their biggest regrets. 

I hope you enjoyed these images of Ella and her beautiful family!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
By Sheri Van Wert
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I am pleased to announce that on Thursday, July 16, 2015, I achieved the designation of Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) from Professional Photographers of America. I am elated to be joining the ranks of less than 2500 photographers nationwide who have achieved this designation!

While this designation is not required for one to run a photography business, it was important to me to do the work to attain certification to ensure that I was providing the highest level of skills and product to my clients. With this recognition I feel I have truly earned the title of professional photographer!

The certification process consists of a technical 100 question exam that tests one's knowledge of composition, lighting, posing, equipment, color balance, and all the other aspects of photography. Once I passed the written test, I submitted my portfolio to be meticulously reviewed by a panel of 5 judges. For the portfolio to pass the images must adhere to specific requirements. The judges are looking not only for consistency of artistic style, but excellent technical execution of all the elements of photography must be met in each image (lighting, posing, color balance and harmony, etc...)

The entire process took me about 2 1/2 years to complete. It was a period of intense growth as an artist and professional with buckets of blood, sweat and tears. Ok, well not that much blood, but certainly sweat and tears! I am deeply appreciative of the support and mentoring I received from so many wonderful people during this time. You know who you are, and I couldn't have done it without you!

So what does this mean for you?

Knowing that a professional is certified helps the public to know that the individual has the skills to carry out the job that you are paying them for. Accountants attain CPAs, Doctors attain MDs, Counselors attain MFT or LCSW, etc... In the photography industry, when CPP follows a photographer's name it should alert you to the photographer's professional breadth of knowledge and experience, while also declaring that photographer as one who has achieved and maintains a higher standard. To keep the CPP designation one must re-certify every three years.

Whether or not I am your chosen photographer, I strongly urge you to hire a CPP (or someone working towards their CPP) when you desire professional photography to be a part of your family's life. To learn more about what a CPP is, and why you should hire one click here:

The following is my passing portfolio.

While I do plan to "rest on my laurels" for a time here, I don't plan to stay still for too long. My next goal is to work towards achieving my Master in Photography degree for Image Excellence. This process is even more rigorous. The CPP process pushed me so hard in such a worthwhile way, that this next goal will only help me continue to grow and set an even higher artistic standard for the work I produce. I will keep you posted as I delve into this next goal in 2016!

Thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing you at your next portrait session!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015
By Sheri Van Wert
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"Sheri relaxes me when she’s behind the camera, working with her is completely stress-free and fun.  When I asked Sheri about taking pictures for the blog, she went above and beyond by researching others in my field and becoming familiar with the world of “food blogging”. Before we had our session, Sheri asked me very specific questions about what I was looking for, what I liked or didn’t like - there was so much thought into it prior I think it took all the stress away the day we took the pictures. Plus and most importantly….It was super fun!  Love working with Sheri!" ~ Debra Clark

It was a beautiful Tuesday afternoon when I walked into Debra Clark’s kitchen. Debra is the foodie behind the “Bowl Me Over” food blog.

My Goal: to take beautiful images for her to use in spicing up her blog’s visual presence.
My Plan: to photograph her cooking a meal from scratch from start to finish.

Debra specializes in making hearty and heartwarming soups and stews. She does feature other types of cooking on her blog (salads, BBQ, sandwiches, etc…), but her main passion is for soups/stews and the nutritious comfort they impart. For that reason, the meal she would be making while I hovered around her with my camera would be a tri-peppered chicken stew.

My first set of shots: The Ingredients.

This board of brightly colored, fresh vegetables and spices is beautiful to behold. A bounty of aromatic plants is the base of what begins the alchemical process of making a delicious stew. If you are curious as to why onions are in practically every soup and stew recipe, I highly recommend you read “Cooked”, by Michael Pollen. You will come away from that book appreciating the magic that is cooking all that much more, as I do now!

After I had my time with the vegetables, it was time to start chopping. I had her chop slower than usual so I could capture this fine process appropriately. I was awed by her chopping skills as small and evenly sized bits of vegetables manifest before my eyes. Of course, I was comparing it to my own rather haphazard vegetable chopping! The main character of the stew, chicken, was placed on its own chopping block. The resulting pieces were placed in a ziplock bag and mushed around with the spices. Soon Debra was ready to turn on the heat. Do you notice the little friend hoping for a morsel of food to leap off the counter onto the ground? 

I love the smell of raw onions….weird I know…but I love the smell of sautéing onions even more which I think may be less weird. As each ingredient was sautéed and added together, the smells changed and intensified as the magic started to take place. Chemical compounds break down and mingle with one another, sending up steam which is laden with molecules destined to make your mouth water.

Lastly, the home made stock was added, and then…we waited. As the stew simmered on the stove, we talked, we laughed, and we made some head shots of the lovely Debra.  I feel proud that she has one of my fine art landscape pieces hanging up in her kitchen! Recognize it?   

After a while, it was time to taste the stew. Ideally, Debra would allow a stew to simmer for hours, letting the flavors deepen as they mingle together in a way only time and low heat can enhance. But since this was a photo shoot (and I was charging by the hour) we indulged in the stew early so I could catch a moment of Debra with her husband, Dan, enjoying her delicious creation together.

And that was how we ended this most fun session! I can personally attest to the deliciousness of this dish. On first bite it felt like all the tastebuds in my mouth were activated at once. A blend of tangy, spicy, and salty combined with the rich texture of the stew, left me going for a second helping.



We live in an age of ubiquitous processed food (you can even get frozen PB&J for crying out loud), and the industrial food industry is constantly reminding us that we don’t have to cook anymore. We can have them do it for us (and make them rich in the process). I think we all know by now that cooking at home is healthier for both our bodies and minds. I try to cook at home as much as possible, but I admit to often feeling too tired, and battle an existential conflict with an annoying voice insisting that there may be a better use of my time than standing in the kitchen and chopping vegetables. Ultimately, however, when I give myself over to the task and relax into it, it always ends up being time well spent. Even when I make a disaster of a dish, I’ve learned something. It is encouraging to see so many friends in my generation interested in eating healthy and spending time with their children in the kitchen.

The rise of the food blog is a great modern tool available to us as we rediscover the joys of cooking at home. We can connect with foodies from all over the world to glean ideas for how to supply our daily nutritional needs.

If these pictures have made your mouth water, and you want to try this stew out for yourself, visit this link to get the step-by-step recipe:

As for me, I’m off to the grocery store to get the ingredients for her lentil and sausage soup.


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Tuesday, March 10, 2015
By Sheri Van Wert
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So far in this blog series we have covered picking the right print sizes, choosing the best medium and place to hang your gorgeous wall portrait, album styles and designs, and considering whether digital images are a wise purchase for you or not. Now it’s time to spotlight the fun photo accessories and gifts that are available to you. Perhaps you have a close family member who “has everything”, and you never know what to give them on their birthday or at holidays. Perhaps you want to pick out a treasured item just for you. In the words of “Parks and Recreation” TV characters Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, “Treat Yo Self!” The following items are PERFECT for such occasions.


I have partnered with the company Planet Jill to bring you photo jewelry and gifts that are of the highest quality. Necklaces, bracelets, charms, keychains, ornaments and even cufflinks are available. All items through Plant Jill are made with sterling silver, brass, or pewter and would make a beautiful family heirloom piece to pass down to your children and grand-children. There are many styles and charm sizes to choose from. Ask me for the full catalog to start dreaming and designing your stylish, wearable, piece of art.


Greeting Cards

Want to send a card to friends and family that will stand out from the pack, and have everyone talking?  I offer high quality, custom designed, suitable for framing greeting cards for any occasion: holidays, birthdays, births, graduation, etc…

Card are custom designed using the images you love best from your session. The design is press printed onto thick card stock, and both flat and folded cards are available.

Clients who have purchased cards from me have reported receiving phone calls from friends and family raving about the cards. Most people keep the cards they are sent, and put them in tabletop frames or scrapbooks as they are too beautiful to toss in the garbage. These cards are, beyond a doubt, something your loved ones will want to keep.


Ornaments, Cell Phone covers and More

Want to get even more creative with your portraits? Consider the vast array of photo accessories and home decor available to you. Two of my most popular photo accessories are cell phone covers and ornaments.  Carry your beloved images around with you all the time…on your cell phone. My cell phone covers are printed on aluminum, and the sides of the case are made of black durable silicone rubber. Choose a single image, or ask me for a fun custom design.

Photo ornaments come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are printed on either aluminum or ceramic. Ornaments featuring your family are something you will look forward to seeing and enjoy year after year.

Beyond these two accessories, there is a plethora of products and materials that photographs can be printed on these days: photo blocks, key chains, puzzles, calendars, images on wood, etc…  The list goes on. Not everything under the sun will be listed here or in my product catalog, that would be too overwhelming, but if you are looking for something unique for someone special, please contact me for ideas!  We can brainstorm together and pick something unique to match the desires, decor, and personality of the person you want the gift for. You can be assured that all the specialty items purchased through me will be be the highest quality the industry has to offer at the moment. 

And so, we have come to the end of my product spotlight blog series.  I hope this has helped enlighten you, taken the mystery and some of the overwhelm out of the ordering process, and provided you with great ideas for your next portrait session!  Contact me today to schedule your next portrait session, and let me help you decorate your life!