black and white family studio portraits

Confession: A family of three is easiest to work with (for me).

Okay, let me explain…

I can better visualize poses for two parents and their little baby (who is at the barely-crawling stage) because them babies cannot run away yet! haha. It’s just easier for me to have parents pose with their one child than it is for me to pose and keep the momentum when there are a lot more people to pose, as well, and make sure everyone’s hair and outfits are in place. Sure, I can just have everyone stand next to each other and smile — shoot, shoot, shoot! — but that is not my style whatsoever. It’s very traditional, and I’m not a traditional photographer.

For me, when I’m photographing a big family (I have photographed a family of 21+ persons at one time!) then I’d want to connect each person with their spouse and/or child within the large group shot. Then I’d break it up into smaller groups so there is a good amount of combinations, including individual headshots. I’d need to direct everyone in a way that is more intimate, as if everyone likes each other. HA! In all of this, I want it to be very non-traditional so not every single person is looking at the camera when I am focusing on just one or two persons in the shot (within the group). This is what I do when photographing family formals at every wedding.

I guess what I’m saying is, my strength lies in photographing smaller families (a family of three works best for me!) but I have photographed bigger families than that and continue to receive inquiries. I hope this explains why I don’t showcase large family/group photos. I know what I do best so just letting you know… and the entire world. ;)

Bunn Salarzon - family photographer

This family met me at Portland IKEA for their photo shoot…

I am looking for new spots for photo shoots within 30 minutes drive from the Portland International Airport, so I’d love any suggestions that you may have!?

Spots? Yes, because I don’t need an entire location; that one awesome spot you always pass by during a drive or walk is just perfect for me.

Sometimes the best place to do a photo shoot isn’t at the most obvious places. Well, at least not for my style of photography. The first thing I look for is light then background. I try to avoid other people and cars, and even buildings unless I’m doing a specific photo shoot in the city or something like that. 

What I crave for is those hidden gems; the kinds that you’d find while driving here and there and then you’d see it along the way, but didn’t really notice it before because it’s not an obvious place for photo shoots. But, the light. Ooh! And this angle, that angle— thinking to yourself, “Bunn would love this spot!” Yes, that’s what I want. :) 
 
I shot those photos at IKEA, could you tell?!

I would drive along I-205 from Vancouver, Washington and see this big field behind IKEA, but thought what a crazy spot to do a photo shoot. However, the more I saw it the more that I wanted to do it! So, this family met me at IKEA and this is what we created that day. I love how these photos turned out on film!

These hidden gems don’t have to look exactly like this field— and it doesn’t even have to be a field. It can be a driveway with a cool garage door, or a stunning lonesome tree nearby a schoolyard. Oh, what I would really love to find is a driveway with a beautiful tree line like from the scene in Rain Man with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman.

If you see anything that would make a lovely backdrop for my style of work, then please do not hesitate to let me know. Thank you in advance!

interracial adoptive family white baby boy

//HELLO! I’M BACK.

When my son was born, I decided that I needed to step away from the photography business that required for me to be physically away to shoot. And when I was home, or when we were traveling, I was still physically “away” from him because I was always on my laptop to edit photos… and he’d have to play by himself. I just couldn’t keep doing that anymore and miss out on his growing years. I mean, I waited 15 years to have these moments and I didn’t want to be too busy to experience them.

So, I retired my 10-year photography business at the end of 2017 (nine months after I became a mom).

In the few years since, I focused on growing another business that allowed me to be at home with Oliver and work whenever I wanted to; I became a stay-at-home mom. Although things were moving along, I was feeling like I was slowly losing a part of myself… but, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. I just felt lost, very lost.

I announced to the entire world that I was “retired” and my Yelp account was reported as closed, but I was still secretly shooting weddings and portraits here and there. Those times are when I felt alive. I tried to deny it, but I realized that I just missed being a photographer and I wanted to return to the world that I loved so much.

But, there was a problem. How do I come back from retirement? Is it ethical?!

I remember when Michael Jordan (Jay-Z too!) announced his retirement from the NBA. It didn’t make any sense because basketball was Michael Jordan, that’s what we loved seeing him do and he did it so well! Basketball wasn’t the same without him, but we all moved along without him. Then he came back. Huh? I thought he retired. That was confusing. (I’m not comparing myself to the greatest basketball of all time though! It’s his retirement and return that I kinda relate to.)

That’s how I feel about the idea of me returning to photography. Is it confusing? Has everyone already moved along without me in those few years since my “retirement”? What if my time has already passed? Does it really make much sense for me to return now, or ever?

I suppose there’s really no right or wrong answer, it’s just a feeling that I have deep down that I’m ready to start my photography business over again. Okay, maybe not start all over but more refine and showcase only the kind of art that makes me proud to create. The kind of art that will attract the right clients who want to work with me.

I’m going to end this post here so it’s not a longer novel than it already is. Basically, I’m saying that I’m back in business! Thanks for welcoming me home. ❤️

first birthday adopted boy

To the Boy Who Made Me a Mother: You have given me life.

I NEVER KNEW LOVE LIKE THIS.

Today, you turned a whole year: ONE. Three hundred and sixty-five days old. Every one of those days you’ve made your Tatay and me the most happiest people in the whole wide world. We’ve never known a love like yours could exist, that it could be real and designed specifically for us. What’s in my heart is always in a form of writing; your Tatay always wear it on his sleeves. We couldn’t be more opposite when it comes to expressing our feelings. Now what’s in our hearts is a tangible, breathing thing in you… Wherever you go, you take our hearts with you.

It’s been a whole year of overflowing happy tears. It’s been a whole year of diaper changes and baby formula (lots of ’em!). It’s been a whole year of traveling as a family. It’s been a whole year of watching you grow so fast— too fast for us(!). It’s been a whole year of learning about each other and from one another. It’s been a whole year of hugs and kisses that we will never get enough of. It’s been a whole year of finally experiencing a love like this, everything we’ve ever dreamed of and more.

For nearly 15 years, I’ve dreamt of you but I could never see you… what your face look like in my mind’s eye. I never could make out the color of your skin, the shape of your face, or the brightness of your smile. Because for nearly 15 years, I waited for you to be born with a combination of our DNA so maybe you’d have my skin tone and cheekbones, have your Tatay’s infectious smile and warm eyes. When you finally arrived, you didn’t have anything at all that resembled either one of us and we couldn’t be more excited about that. Everything about you is now etched in my heart… I know the shape of your beautiful face, the color of your delicate skin and blue eyes, and the brightness of your infectiously warm smile. No more dreaming about what you may look like because I see you every single day. Thank you for making me a Mama and for allowing me to dream with you by my side every single night.

Breithlá Sona! to the boy who made me a MOM. I love you more than anything in this whole wide world.

bunn salarzon - meeting baby oliver

To My Son’s Birth Mother: You have no idea what you’ve done.

THANK YOU.

The moment you decided that you would carry the unborn baby until full term despite how scared you must’ve felt, you couldn’t have known how much you’d change the world of two complete strangers whom you didn’t know even existed. How much you’d fill our hearts that were struggling to hold on to faith; nearly 15 years of waiting and disappointments that our prayers went unanswered were almost unbearable. (Those years were 5,372 in days; each day was harder than the previous.)

I cannot imagine how scared and alone you must’ve felt when you learned that you were unexpectantly pregnant. You had choices, and you chose to carry the baby to term at 37 weeks and he was born healthy at 7 pounds, 19¾ inches long, with blond hair and blue eyes. I still carry with me your only request to us was to let Baby know that you didn’t give him away… you gifted him to us because you wanted a different life for him that you didn’t know you could provide at the time. That your love for him is why you made the difficult choice to have us adopt him as our own. You will always be a part of him because you gave him life… You gave him a chance to grow up and become whoever he wants to be. You had choices and you chose to save his life. But, what you couldn’t possibly have known then is that you also saved our lives. You gave us the greatest gift we could ever have wished for and helped our hearts beat again.

I see you whenever I look at his alabaster skin, silky blond-sometimes-red hair, and slate-blue eyes. He’s growing so fast and reminds me that he will be tall just like you, which means we are getting shorter when we’re already short Asians. ;) I see you when he crawls or walks in to my arms and I embrace him for us both, always. I see you in his eyes when he gives the widest and biggest laughs that make his eyes disappear, just like you. He’s yours. He’s mine. We’re his mothers. We are forever bound together you and I, you are always in our thoughts and prayers. Thank You for allowing us the privilege to name him. When we chose his name, it actually came to us and we knew right then and there it was the most perfect name for him and for us to honor you.

Our son turns one in a few days… I’m running out of words to fully express everything I’ve felt this past year because there really are no words. Even as I write this post it doesn’t speak how my heart truly feels. How unbelievably humbled I feel to have received the gift of your heart in the form of this most beautiful child whom we call Oliver. When he’s sleepy, he reaches out for me and I cradle his little body next to my heart every night caressing his soft blond hair until he drifts off to sleep. Let my arms also be yours in knowing that he’s safe, healthy, and will never not know how much you love him like we do.