{The Brauer Family}

I feel so honored to know this family!

They are wonderful. They are easy-going. They are driven. They are happy…with a slight side of goofy. They are my friends.

Cindy is the founder + professional choreographer of an UH-MAZING fitness class that you can’t help but LOVE. It’s called Mojo Fitness + you should definitely come by sometime if you’re in the area!

Getting to know this whole crew is a blessing in itself. You can tell the love they have for life, + each other…It’s beautiful.

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{Lisa’s Family}

Some people bring sunshine with them wherever they go + this family is full of those kinds of people!!!

It was my first time meeting this crew, + I was immediately struck at their joy, genuineness, + open hearts…

The more I got to know each family member, I realized that their attitudes were amazing. About life, about circumstances, about each other. They were so THANKFUL.

It reminded me we truly have a choice in our attitudes + minds in how we think of all that life holds. In the good + even in the hard life events, we can all choose gratefulness.

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{Adrian + Sebastian}

Never have I met such a laid-back, go with the flow family. Never have I worked with people who honest to goodness didn’t mind if it was raining during their shoot. Never have I ever loved a photo session in an apple orchard on an overcast day more than this one…

This crew refreshed my heart. They were genuine. They were joyful. They ended the day with donuts. (Translation: they are my ideal friends.)

THANK YOU, wonderful family, for allowing me to capture your beautiful selves this fall. It blessed me so. You blessed me so.

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{Spotlight: INSPIRATION}

A hot minute ago, I started a personal project called Spotlight:INSPIRATION. It features people who I find inspiring as they share what gives them the drive to do what they do…

Here is another amazing person you should know about. Her name is Lindsay Stiem. Besides her love of cute animals, the German language + many other things, she is an amazing musician.

Posted below is my interview with her + some portraits I took of her. (We laughed a lot in a random parking lot while taking them…)

I hope you find inspiration in what she shares. Enjoy.


Me: Tell me about your journey with music.

Lindsay: So I grew up around music in the church since my Dad is a pastor. I started taking piano lessons when I was really young…I was awful at practicing, (laughs) but my parents made me stick through it and I grew to love it.

I started playing music in the church when I was in High School, but there was always a part of me that wanted to write music, I just didn’t think I could. It didn’t sound like something I was capable of doing; it sounded so hard, but there were all these different artists that I listened to and that I loved so much and had the thought, “Well all of the songs I love had to of been written at some point; they all had to go through that creative process.” It wasn’t until college that I started writing music and giving it a go, and it’s been an interesting journey and it’s been really good…but I still have no idea what I’m doing. I think all the time I’m learning but I think that’s good. I’m just trying to write from my heart and from a really genuine place.


Me: I can sense that from the songs that I’ve heard that you’ve written; they’re so real. I see that immediately. That really draw me in, because it feels really honest. Your songs feel so honest. What are your inspirations when you’re sitting down to write? Is it something like, ‘I want to write’ or more ‘I have something on my mind that I need to get out?’ What’s that been like for you?

Lindsay: It’s always different with every song, but I very much believe that inspiration isn’t something that can be forced. For me, I feel like it always comes at the most inopportune times, like at 2 in the morning (laughs) or I’m in my car or something, but I have these tiny little sound clips on my phone if a melody comes into my head, I’ll record that on my phone and revisit it later on.

I would say just taking time to listen, that’s how I really draw my inspiration. Listening to music that I love and filling my ears with that. And listening to stories and things God puts on my heart to write about. There are moments when I’m going through something and I feel compelled to write about it. Or maybe I come up with a certain melody first and then I think, ok , this kinds of fits with what I’m writing. Or sometimes about a place that I want to be, so it will be a song for myself more than anything to kind of motivate myself.


Me: That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that part, especially because a lot of times artists can write about things that they’ve gone through or even a present tense situation, but to think about the future, that’s really unique I think.

Lindsay: Yeah, I mean, the most recent song that I posted on my SoundCloud was called “How To Be Still” and that’s an example of that. Because it’s not something I’m very good at, and the whole song is about learning to be still and trying to seek that in every day life because that’s something I’m striving to do more and more everyday. So the song for me is like a prayer.

Listen to “How To Be Stillhere.


Me: Do you have a favorite song you’ve written?

Lindsay: (Laughing) Is that weird for me to answer, “This is my favorite song?” Well, there’s a song I posted earlier this fall called “First Train” and that was one I spent quite a bit of time on, which is rare for my songs. Usually they’re written in a short span. This one, I had started writing a while ago but kind of forgot about it because I didn’t really like it, but then revisited it later. I really liked the concept and idea of the song so I just changed some things so I think I like that one a lot because of the work I put into it. I spent a lot of time refining it.

Listen to “First Trainhere.

Me: It’s a beautiful song. What’s the meaning behind it for you?

Lindsay: So the song is about meeting half way in relationships. In the lyrics it kind of sounds more like a romantic relationship but it could really fit for anything. It was just something that at the time I was struggling with in a lot of relationships of mine.

Me: When people are listening to your music, live or maybe on an upcoming EP or something, do you have any hopes for what people hearing it will experience?

Lindsay: I hope they feel some hope I guess, and I hope they hear something unique, something they haven’t really heard before. But I hope they just see the heart behind it more than anything. I write for myself, but I also write for other people as well, and I think music is a really strong avenue to do that with.


Me: You said certain music inspires you. Who are examples of that?

Lindsay: There are a couple of artists that I listen to all the time because they have been a big inspiration to me and then there’s newer artists as well. The music I write has a very simple guitar or piano part and then it’s more vocally driven because for me I feel like that’s my strongest instrument; I like to sing more than anything. So I like to listen to artists who do that as well. It’s a balance between listening to artists I have been listening to forever and constantly to and will never stop listening to as well as trying to find new stuff to always be inspired by. Because that helps you to grow.

Me: Are there any musicians in particular you’ve been listening to a lot these days?

Lindsay: So Lakestreet Drive…they’re so fun and overall super talented. For sure them, and Hosier; he plays the guitar and sings, and he has this really beautiful voice that kind of pierces your soul.


Me: With inspiration, what do you do when it’s not coming, even at 2am, what do you do?

Lindsay: Yeah, that happens a lot. There’s a lot of times that I sit down and try and force myself to write something and force myself to be creative, but I think anything that comes from that isn’t very genuine. It’s more from a place of just ‘get it done.’ For me, when inspiration hits, I have to take to advantage of that moment because that’s when I most productive and that’s when it feels most genuine. I think I realize that just might not be the time and I’ll revisit it later.

Lately with how busy I’ve been, if I have a free moment, sometimes I sit down and try to write, but if it’s not coming to me, I just have to let it go because I want it to come from a genuine place.


Me: I’m the same way. I’ve heard some people say, if you wait for inpiration to come, you’re gonna miss a lot of work that could have been done. Pretty much that you just have to keep showing up. And I understand that perspective but it’s not something that really resonates very deeply with me. I feel like I can get just as much done in an hour that I feel inspired than eight hours of going through the motions. It’s interesting you feel similar to that…

So what would you say to people who might have an inkling, it would be cool to do something creative…I don’t know where to find inspiration, what would you say to them?

Lindsay: Surrounding yourself with art or whatever it is that you want to puruse, being intentional to put yourself in those environments goes a long way. For me, going to shows gives me inspiration to play at shows. Also surrounding yourself with other people who are very creative has been inspiring for me. I have been blessed with a network of friends who are creative, even someone like you, inspire me.

Me: Same!

Lindsay: Following that and making sure I’m almost like, doing my homework in a sense, trying to stay inspired by surrounding myself with those things and people.

Me: Totally. And I know that for my own life too, that goes a long way.

Lindsay: Right, when you’re encouraging each other in those ways…

Me: Yeah, even if it’s different mediums.

Lindsay: Because it’s all connected too…music and visual art.


Me: What’s next for your music? What do you want to see happen?

Lindsay: I’d really like to play more shows. I’ve been playing a few lately, but I’d like to play more…And I’ve been having more opportunities too, which has been cool. Also, I do have plans of sometime, hopefully early next year, having some songs recorded. And possibly releasing some small EP or something. For me, it wouldn’t necessarily be to make any profit off of it, it would be because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long and I just would wanted to share it.

Me: I know you’ll do that.

Lindsay: I feel really good about it.

Me: Because this is from your heart and not forced, not that you need to hit these benchmarks, you’re unfolding your heart, it will bring you to that place.

Me: Thank you for sharing all of these things. Any last piece of advice you’d want to share?

Lindsay: …Never stop learning. Never feel like you’ve reached a point where know everything. Continually be open to growing and learning new things.

Listen to more of Lindsay Stiem’s music here.

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{Welcoming Charlie!}

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS! And hey: GUESS WHAT? I have a very exciting announcement!!!

The KC Photography Co. community (that includes YOU!) is now sponsoring a little boy in China!!

By commissioning me to shoot your portraits in 2015, a portion of those proceeds will go directly towards making sure our little guy is well cared for!!!

Want to meet him? He’s awfully adorable…

Charlie copy 2

CHARLIE, or Yong Qiao (pronounced Yong Chow) is a four year old little guy who happens to be orphaned + blind. He’s currently being cared for in Beijing by Bethel China!

Bethel China does AMAZING work caring for visually impaired orphans. I’ve followed their story closely since my precious Wei Wei came into my life in 2010. I would have so loved for him to be cared for there instead of living his entire life in a very poor orphanage.

Many of you will remember hearing of WeiWei + my love for him + the devastating news of his passing. I want to do this in his honor…


I can’t wait for you all to start knowing Charlie through updates I am sent! I will be sure to broadcast that opportunities throughout the year when we can send him special packages!!

Little does Charlie know how many people are going to FALL IN LOVE WITH HIM!

Feel free to learn more about Bethel here by following them on Facebook!

Expect to see more about Charlie soon! And thank you for your continued support!

Much love, Kristen

Jen west - That’s awesome!!

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