A Big Announcement…

It’s taken a few months to get everything going but I am pleased to announce that I have a new business name, logo, and blog!  As a result, I will no longer be posting here.  Instead, please update your records…the new address is graywrenphotography.com.  All the content from this blog has been exported to the new blog, so everything will be in one place.  Thanks for all your support…without all of you I would not have the courage to make this huge leap from taking portraits as a hobby to taking portraits as a professional.  I truly love this new career and am so excited to share it with all of you…I hope you will come along for the ride!

With gratitude,

Alicia Westra

a revival…

Welcome to the revival of the photography blog!  I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted last…ugh!  Has it really been that long?  Time really flies!

I am making some changes around here, which is partly why I’ve been so conspicuously absent from posting.  You see, I am working on a new blog and website and I kept thinking I would save the photos I’ve been taking until that is ready.  It’s taking longer than I expected, though, so I’ve decided to come back here.  When the new website is ready, we’ll all make the change together, instead of my falling off the face of the earth.  I’m making some changes to my brand, too, so you’ll start seeing a new logo on my photos.  It’s different, and I love it!  I hope you’ll like it too.  You might also have noticed the gallery page that I’ve added…I’ll be posting favorites there, as well as in the previews.  There will be other changes coming, too, but I’ll announce those as they come.  Make sure you stop by often to see what’s happening!
A few weeks ago, we found this little guy while out on a shoot.  I’ve noticed these caterpillars before, but have no idea what they are!  I love how bright and fuzzy they are…they’re usually nice and big too!  I wonder if they hibernate through the winter and then emerge in the spring as something amazing!

I love fall!  I love the cooling temperatures and the colorful leaves.  More changes.  By the way, if you are hoping to get the autumn leaves in your family photos, don’t wait too long!  Call or email me to schedule a session before the gorgeous colors fade!

still alive…

…here are a few photos from a wedding formals shoot a couple weeks ago.




most random

I was waiting at the library on a late Saturday afternoon.  It was snowing outside (finally!), and people were coming in and out.  Returning books, checking out books, shaking the wetness from their coats as they entered from the street.  Each time the door would open, a chilly blast of air would announce the arrival or departure of a library patron.  They were college students, families, young and old.  As I stood there, an elderly man walked out of the main library.  He had a beard and a yellow parka.  There was a spring in his step as he strode through the library foyer.  He stopped and looked at me.

“I couldn’t find the unicorns,” he said.  “I’m going to go look in the lake.”

Then, without waiting for any response from me, he headed straight out the door into the rain and snow.

It was so random.  I’m glad he didn’t want a response from me, because I had nothing.


colder than it looks

I don’t know how winter is in your neck of the woods, but here it is no snow, bright blue skies…it looks like it should be November instead of January.  The other day, outside beckoned.  It was gorgeous!  My kindergartener and I decided it was time to get out and take a walk.  We decided that the park would be best, so we loaded baby into the car and off we went.  As we pulled into the parking lot I glanced at the temperature reading on my dashboard.  24 degrees.  Really cold.  We were there, though, so I thought I would see how long we lasted.  The baby was bundled up well and snuggled into his carseat.  My daughter had on her warm winter coat.  I knew I would warm up once I got moving.

We made it once around the track.  If there had been a path back to the parking lot halfway around, we would have taken it.  My daughter and I agreed that hot cocoa was in order.

After loading back into the car we made the short trip home.  We passed a small farm with a few cows and horses out in the freezing cold.  After a moment my daughter asked, “Mom, how come animals are outside when it is so cold?”

I explained that the animals in our area have coats of fur to keep them warm in the winter.  We talked about animals that have hair/fur and started naming animals that don’t have hair.  Snakes and lizards came up first, then (from the back) “alligators and crocodiles…they don’t have fur!”

Me:  That’s right!  Do you think alligators and crocodiles would be able to live around here?

R:  “No….except the dead ones.”

Photos from when it was slightly warmer…still too cold for alligators or crocodiles though.  Except the dead ones.

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Back in September I had a great opportunity to be second shooter for Tara Winsor of Winsor Photography…she specializes in all types of portraits, but wedding photography is her passion!  And she is terrific.  She asked me to tag along for some wedding formals and I jumped at the chance!  I was super excited to learn from such a talented photographer.  I can see why she loves to photograph weddings…it is so fun to see the love between a bride and groom!  I mentioned this shoot before…the weather was questionable and we got a late start, but it all turned out.  Not only do I love the photos that Tara captured (you can see them here), but I got a few myself:

What does the second shooter do?  It was my job to shoot from different angles…I wasn’t right behind Tara, for example, I was a foot or two to the side.  It was a pleasure to shoot with her and to meet her clients!  Thanks, Tara!

happy new year

I promise I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth.  Sometimes it feels like I have, but I really haven’t.

This is what has been going on:

He’s almost 7 weeks now, and he doesn’t really like it when I try to do anything at the computer if it involves holding him at the same time.  So I steal bits of time here and there to edit photos.  I promise I still have a bunch to put on here.  Stay tuned…

baby on the brain

We have baby on the brain at my house.  I am just over 5 weeks away from having one of those little warm loaf-of-bread bundles.

And this one is a boy.  Following two sisters, he will have plenty of people bossing him around.

My girls are excited to have a brother, though a little apprehensive.  A couple weeks ago I had this conversation in the car with my older daughter:

A: Tell me about having a brother, mom…’cause, you have 2, you know all about it.

Me:  Well, at first he won’t do much (launches into discussion about how newborns don’t do much more than eat, sleep, cry, and fill diapers)

A (interrupting):  Well, the thing I’m most worried about is Bionicles.  I’m just not that fond…

This was followed by an explanation that babies don’t use legos of any type, let alone Bionicles.

I have a feeling we are in for a fun ride with number 3!


Here are a few shots of a little baby…she was born at the end of August and was just so sweet for her session:




a tale of two princesses…

It has been busy round these parts…I know I always say that, but it is always busy.  I should just get used to it.  But I digress…

A couple weeks ago, the talented Tara of Winsor Photography asked me to second shoot with her for some wedding formals.  I jumped at the chance, and we had a great time!  I always love to learn from other photographers.

So I have been processing the photos that I took at that shoot and today was preparing to crop a nice photo of the bride and groom when I spotted an intruder in the photo.  Highly distracting (at least to me), I did a double take.  Then I zoomed in to see if it was really just a reflection, maybe of the bride’s mother, in the window.  A trick of light?  Nope.

A Cinderella doll (think Barbie-sized) peeking through the window of the reception hall behind the couple?  It couldn’t be.  So I asked my 7 year old to look.  She immediately confirmed my suspicions.  My 5 year old had to have it pointed out to her.  My husband also identified the intruder as the elusive girl who lost a glass slipper in the famous fairy tale.  Who knows how she got there or what she was doing…personally, I think she was there to check out the bride’s dress and wish them a wonderful happily ever after.

Yes, I know it’s lame to tell you the story without sharing the photo, but I can’t post the session until after this beautiful couple ties the knot.  And even then, Cinderella doesn’t belong in their special day…they have their own fairy tale to live out.


Here are some photos of a different kind of princess:

That title makes it sound like I’ve been laid up with the plague or something.  I promise that isn’t the case.  Things have been super busy around my house with the beginning of school, ending of summer, Blue Lily workshop (which deserves its own special post and it will get its own special post), photo shoots, special photo projects…you get the idea.  And in the middle of all that, I got stung by a bee.  You might be thinking, “oh, wah for you…” BUT…I am allergic to bee stings.  Not as in fall over and die allergic, but swell up and be uncomfortable allergic.  So for about a week and a half I had one foot that was bigger than the other.  It was really not so awesome.  But it could have been worse.  Excuses, excuses…where is this leading?  I guess I just am trying to make up for the fact that I haven’t posted any photos for a while…

One of my main projects over the past couple months has been a flow photo for a local athlete.  She can perform a flip throw in, which is not very common, and she and her parents wanted to get a flow photo, or a photo composed of many images, of her performing this difficult soccer move.  I had never done anything like this before, so when they asked if I could make this flow photo for them I was excited to take on the project.  It was a great learning project for me and I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I was so glad they gave me permission to share it with you!  (Click on the image for a better view.)