In December, I attended a photography workshop hosted by The House Of Flynn in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. I was fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship to attend, and I even got to bring my hubby along too! While I was there, I had the opportunity to have the fabulous Ashton Kelley-Werkmeister take some headshots of me. Normally, I am not the first one to jump up and volunteer to have my photo taken. But when I was in Mexico, I felt different. I actually wanted to have my photo taken. While I was gone, I had time to think about the Mother I want to be for my children. I want them to remember me smiling. I want them to remember me being happy. I don’t have many photos of myself for my children, since I am always behind the camera. I want my children to have photos of me at all points in my life, to remember me when I’m gone. I want them to know that they are the reason for my smile and my happiness. I don’t want them to remember me as the stressed out Mom I feel like I am. As Mother’s we are all so hard on ourselves. We put entirely too much pressure on our own shoulders and when we don’t meet the high standards we set for ourselves, we beat ourselves up over it. Over and over again. I’m guilty of doing it too. But what I learned while I was in Mexico, is that us Mom’s need to take care of ourselves too!!! I’m not saying you need to take a weeklong trip to Mexico (but if you can, you should!) but taking time to yourself, wether it be an hour at the nail salon, lunch with a friend, or a date night with your partner…you need to take time for yourself because it makes you a better Mom! When you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, everyone suffers. You included. You are drained and worn out and you just plain don’t wanna adult anymore. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Motherhood is hard. Really hard. And when we don’t take a break to thank ourselves for being the warriors that we are, it wears us down. I know. I’ve been there many times. Take the time to reward yourself Mom’s. You are worth it. Your babies want to see their Mommy smile. Do something today that makes you smile.

Here’s a few of my favorite shots of me in Mexico! Thank you again, Ashton for the headshots!!! XOXO





Moving sucks. There really isn’t any other description for it. I think I have said, “we are never moving again” about 1,256,987 times since we started packing. We lived in our home for 6 years. After 6 years in the same home with 6 people, 5 dogs, and 5 fish living in it, you really accumulate a lot of… STUFF! I knew we had a lot of stuff, but holy guacamole! It’s been nothing short of chaos in our nest lately. I just keep reminding myself to breathe.

For those that don’t know…In September, after searching for many months, we found our perfect home! We were fortunate enough to come across a new community being built in the area we had been looking to buy. We really wanted to find a ranch style home with one level, because the stairs are too much for me. Over the last 5 months, my little birdies and I have been driving past our new house site every day on our way to school in the mornings. It has been so exciting to see the progress. It still amazes me how quickly our dirt lot became a home. We took lots of photos to document the progress. (Sorry they are awful iPhone photos!) I know….I know…the photographer uses an iPhone for personal photos. It’s horrible, I know. It’s a resolution of mine to use my big expensive DSLR I use with all my clients, on my own life happenings too 😉 It’s coming, I promise!

We took this right after we put our deposit down on our new home!

The future site of where our home would be built. Lot #8

Trenches are ready for footers!

Footers secured, and it’s bright as hell! Somebody get these kids some sunglasses! HAHA!!

Foundation is poured!!!!

Six weeks in, and we have a structure up! AHHHHH! SOOOO EXCITING!!! Oh, and it was pink day at school, and JoJo had dance class, hence the interesting outfits 😉

Arches for my studio!!!

Back of the house

Front of the house.

Roof tiles were delivered!

Starting to look like a real house! Eeeeek!!

We have a driveway!

Windows are in!

Kids bathroom tub is installed!

My husband and I were so graciously gifted a trip to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico from a fellow photog, (the owner of HOF) to attend an incredible photography retreat. It couldn’t have come at a better time. In November we celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary, and we had never taken a honeymoon or a trip just the two of us, ever. We spent an entire week with some pretty amazing people. We met new lifelong friends and made so many memories with them. It was absolutely incredible.

We came home December 11th from our beautiful trip, to find our new home with drywall up and the exterior stuccoed….While that should be something we should have been excited about, we were in complete shock. We went from being completely relaxed to stress level 9000. After a call to our sales representative, she informed us that we could do our first walk through to start the closing process, on January 30th. Through this entire process, our rep we have been working with had been telling us that our new home wouldn’t be done being built until April-May and that we could wait to list our home till mid to end of January…We were mortified. We now had to pack up our lives and make Christmas happen all in about two weeks time. Not to mention, ya know…SELL OUR HOUSE! HA! Breathe, Jess. Just breathe.

When you have 4 kids and 3 of them are 10 and under, Christmas is a big deal. Since we had gone on our trip, I hadn’t gone Christmas shopping at all. I hadn’t even bought one present! It was a mess. Wrapping on Christmas Eve till 2 am was not my idea of a good time! BUT, through all the stress, we made Christmas happen, and the kids got everything they wished for. It was a bit of a bittersweet day, because I knew that it was our last Christmas in that house. Breathe. We will make new memories in our new home, and I can’t wait for that 🙂

After Christmas and New Years, we listed our house. It went live on January 6th.

We thought it would be best to move out of the house while we were showing it, to keep it looking “model home perfect”(which is an impossible task with kiddos!) So, we moved everyone in with my in-laws. A few short days after moving in, my husband and I were off to California for another trip. This time to celebrate our 30th birthday’s together, in the happiest place on earth….DISNEYLAND!!! My favorite place in the whole world <3 <3  We were awful horrible mean parents, and went sans kids. (Don’t worry, they have been several times before!) While we were there, we received a call from our realtor that we had a cash offer on our home! Just 5 days after listing!!!! On my birthday the buyer accepted our counter offer and just like that, our house was SOLD! We finally felt like we could take a breath of air and relax a little bit. Our amazing realtor was definitely to thank. She went above and beyond and was an absolute pleasure to work with. If you ever need to sell your home, do yourself a favor and call Neema!

After we came back from Disneyland we ended up staying with my parents, because they have a one level house and they are a little bit closer to the kids’ school.  We were basically told by our builder to hurry up and sell our house. So we did…and now we are waiting. There has been delay after delay. Everything has to be done and perfect before we can close. While I totally get that, I can’t help but be so frustrated that we had to hurry up to wait. We have invaded my poor parents house and their living room looks like a storage unit now. They have been so amazing and so patient with it all. I know it isn’t easy having 6 extra people in their house, plus all our fur and fin babies. It’s definitely been an adjustment for everyone, but I do have to say, that we are at the start of week 5 staying with Mom and Dad and things have started to settle down over the last two weeks. Everyone is getting into a routine now, and getting used to their temporary rooms. It’s been so awesome to be back in my childhood home. I appreciate the help so much from my parents. It really does take a village to raise children. Especially when you have four. And I am so thankful to my village. To my other village members, (you know who you are) thank YOU too! I couldn’t do any of this without ALL of you. I love you all. So much.

We closed on our old house on Friday February 10th and now we are still playing the waiting game for our new house. We are set to close on our new home mid March but it is dependent on yet another delay. First, we discovered carpet in my studio…Babies poop and carpet would just be no bueno in my studio. Plus, cake smashes. Yeah, no. So that needs to be ripped out and re-tiled and is set to be completed this week.

Then, the BIG kahuna that has caused a LOT of stress. A lot of anxiety. And a whoooooole lot of tears. My hubby and I walked into our master bathroom to discover a very interesting (to say the least) setup for the shower. As most of you know, I am disabled. The current setup was anything but accessible for me. It was completely different than the model we were shown and there was no mention of a different design at any time. We bought this house with the intention of having a home that was more accessible for me, because our old home was a tri-level…lots and lots of stairs! Thankfully, after a looooot of back and forth with our builder, they agreed to fix the bathroom for us at no cost. I can’t even describe how grateful I am that they are doing this for us. They started demo on Friday and we are still being told it will be done mid-March, and then we can close. It’s basically driving me insane not knowing an exact day, but I just gotta breathe.

This is the original design, with the weird step up and step-down to access the shower. Strange. That’s all I have to say.

This is what they have done so far for the new shower.

This is my horrible drawing of what they are going to do in place of the step ups. The colored in rectangle is another bench seat. The rectangles next to that on the left, is a linen closet. There will be a glass door to the shower on the front, and the handle to the shower faucet will be moved under the shower head.

They have been moving really quickly on it, and I’m still hopeful that they will maybe even get it done sooner than anticipated. Until then, I keep reminding myself to breathe. For now, we are living out of 2 storage units, with several things also stored in our cars, at my parents house and my in-laws house. Again, I say…I AM NEVER MOVING AGAIN!! This post was a bit all over the place, so if you’ve stuck with me this far, I’m sorry. But this is my life right now. Breathe. Just breathe.


I will keep you updated on our new nest in part 2 of our moving journey! Stay tuned for updates on your favorite Paradise Valley newborn photographer’s new studio and subscribe to our blog!



As an artist, it is so important to create things that are just for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE photographing babies! But I also love photographing ALL things. Photography truly feeds my soul. It is my way of expressing my creativity. I dream about different things I want to create in my photos. This particular shoot was a few months in the making since the kids were on summer break and schedules were a little hectic. But my oh my was it worth the wait!

So this story starts a little over 15 years ago. I met my husband at the very young age of 14, and I met his beautiful little cousin, Carsen, when she was just 6 months old. I have had the pleasure of not only watching Carsen grow up, but also of watching her grow as a dancer since she was three. I have always loved dance. I love how much emotion you can show through movement alone, without even saying a word. One night this last May, I attended Carsen’s dance recital with my 7 year old daughter, (who is also a dancer) just as we have all these years. But something was different. I realized that I wasn’t watching a little girl on that stage anymore. I was watching a beautiful graceful young woman. I was so emotional watching her dance that night. I remember feeling so moved by her that I knew we had to do a shoot together. Over the summer, we talked about different ideas we both wanted to include in our shoot together. Smoke bombs and tutu’s were a must. When I first imagined this shoot, the location was the first thing I knew that was definite, Roosevelt Row. Obviously I have a thing for birds. Thus, Brian Boner’s bird mural at the monOrchid was also a must.  Carsen’s gorgeous makeup was done by the ever so talented Taryn Conover of Infinite Artistry Makeup and her hair was done by yours truly 🙂 I can’t believe this, but on Monday, Carsen will celebrate her 16th birthday. Carsen, you are so beautiful inside and out my dear and it has truly been a pleasure to watch you grow into the amazing young woman that you are today. Keep dancing like no ones watching. Happy 16th Birthday beautiful, I love you! <3

I am so thrilled with how these images turned out, hope you all enjoy them too!



This sweet little lady  is Adaline. She came to see this Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer for a newborn mini session. She had a head full or gorgeous dark hair that was softer than you can imagine and her beautiful olive skin was absolutely flawless. At just 10 days new, she was a pro at modeling. I didn’t think it was possible for her to get any cuter, but I dressed her in this adorable outfit from Jazzy Vintage Couture and my heart just melted. Then I put the flower bonnet and it was just pure bliss! Isn’t she just scrumptious?! She almost makes me want to have another baby…ALMOST! 😉

Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer

Adaline’s Aunt and I met through a photoshoot a few months back. Erika with Antunez Artistry is a very talented local makeup artist who I have had the pleasure of working with a few times now. She does absolutely beautiful work!! If you ever find yourself in need of any makeup services for a special night out or whatever your reason, you should definitely give her a call! When Erika’s niece was born, she was so sweet to send Adeline’s Mom and Dad to her favorite Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer, yours truly 😉 I love doing shoots for people I know. Even if it is someone I have never met in person, it still makes it fun if you know them through the grapevine. And I absolutely LOVE shooting for first time parents. It’s like they just can’t stop smiling. Their energy is really something special and of course Adaline’s Mom and Dad were beaming with that new parent glow.  How could you not?? Look at that little love!!!

Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer

I love getting those detailed shots in my newborn sessions. Baby’s change so much in their first year of life. Their skin goes through so many changes along with it. I personally love the little ‘flakes’ or skin peeling on their tiny little hands and feet. From their tiny little nose to their delicate long eyelashes. It’s so important to document every tiny detail of your sweet new little one.

Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer


One last image to share with you all of this sweet girl. Adaline’s Daddy helped me out with this one to make sure that she was safe at all times. Dad’s hands were on her the ENTIRE time. This is a composite image using 2 images to create this final image. Safety is the absolute number one priority of this Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer. I will never risk the safety of an infant just to get a shot.



  • Kylee - These are so precious! Paradise Valley is so lucky to have such a talented newborn photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Steinbacher - So precious! Paradise Valley is so lucky to have you as their newborn photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Nina Bashaw - I LOVE these newborn photos, they are amazing! You’re clearly a very talented Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Laken - I am due at the end of September and have been looking for a Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer! Glad I found you!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - These are absolutely precious! You’re a very talented Paradise Valley newborn photographerReplyCancel

  • Deborah Wright - Those are beautiful photo Paradise Valley is lucky to have a newborn photographer who’s so talented and cares so much for the safety of the baby.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - My expecting friend in Paradise Valley is going to LOVE working with you, these are amazing!! I’ll be sure to let her know you should be here newborn photographer.ReplyCancel

This shoot was probably my most favorite shoot I have ever done. And these images are some of my most favorite images to date. Of course I love being in my studio with those sweet little babes, but stepping out of the studio to create beautiful artwork like this makes this Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer soooo happy! Shirley is a model, and she definitely knows how to work the camera! I loved working with her, she is one cool chick! Her fiery red hair is to die for and don’t even get me started on her Harry Potter sleeve!!! I may have a slight girl crush on her shhhh 😉 haha

Shirley’s hair and makeup was absolutely flawless for this shoot. We were dealing with scorching temps and Shirley looked just as beautiful when she left the shoot, as she did when she arrived. Fantastic work by the most fabulous hair and makeup artist, Brianna Wheaton. Now let’s talk about that dress!! It was absolutely stunning on Shirley and fit her body perfectly. The custom beauty was created by the amazingly talented Karen Balliet of Karen’s Kouture. Karen also created the beautiful florals for this shoot as well!

On the day of this shoot, it was a very hot 118 degrees here in Phoenix. Scorching temps is an understatement, especially when you’re pregnant! Shirley was a trooper through the entire shoot and never complained. Her husband, Jimmy even came along and jumped in a few shots. Watching these two interact with each other, I couldn’t help but smile. Seeing the way that Jimmy looked at his gorgeous bride was so heart warming. He was always tending to his gorgeous bride. Getting her water, carrying her train and even lifting her onto the rocks for a few sunset shots. Such a perfect gentleman!!

Jimmy and Shirley are already parents to 4 year old Liam. They will be welcoming their baby girl, Gracie, to their family in mid July. Along with modeling, Shirley also runs a small baking business called No Place Like Home Bakes. This gorgeous Mama says, “baking is my passion, modeling is my hobby, and being a mom has always been my dream. I am one lucky woman to be able to have all of what I do and I’m truly blessed to have my children and Jimmy.”

Shirley and Jimmy have chosen me as their Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer and I cannot wait for baby Gracie to be in the studio! Be on the lookout for her session soon. Until then, enjoy these gorgeous images from Shirley’s maternity shoot.

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paradise valley newborn photographer


Shirley Sue Risen

Shoot Styled and Coordinated by:

Southwest Styled Shootouts by Anita & Whitney

Anita McLeod
Whitney Aymar

Florals and Custom Gowns:

Karen’s Kouture

Hair & Make Up Artist:

Jewelry: Lisa Bureau

  • Kylee - Beautiful work! If I’m ever near Paradise Valley, I’ll have to contact you. You’re an amazing photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Steinbacher - OMG I love these!!! Paradise Valley is so lucky to have you as their Maternity and Newborn Photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Nina - These maternity photos are stunning, she is a gorgeous mamma! You’re an amazing Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Laken - I love you work! Paradise Valley is lucky to have such a talented Newborn Photographer!ReplyCancel

  • Casey - I love these! They are absolutely stunning! You’re a very gifted Paradise Valley maternity photographerReplyCancel

  • Debbie Wright - These photos are so beautiful.Paradise Valley is lucky to have such an awesome Newborn Photographer!!ReplyCancel

  • Valerie - You are a wonderful Paradise Valley Newborn Photographer!ReplyCancel