Grandma Henriksen


My grandparents built this house and all of my mother's childhood memories of home are here.

Pine Tree Drive.

My grandparents have 9 children. My grandma gave birth 9 times.

One of those babies never made it home from the hospital, my Aunt April.

The whole family would sit at the big family table for dinner.

My Grandpa used to tell us he liked doing he hummed melodies and tried to flick us with dish towels.

The main bathroom upstairs had a laundry shoot. We weren't suppose to go down it, so we all did.

My Grandma kept her lipstick in the cupboard. I would open up the tube and take sniffs because I liked the smell of grown-up stuff.

They also had a toothbrush for every single one of their grandkids. I am pretty sure they have 44 grandkids (but I lose count).

They had, what felt like, hundreds of music boxes. The wood chopping one was my favorite.

There are always orangecicles in the garage freezer.

Poppies always bloom in the spring.

I had sleepovers with my cousins there. My Grandma would put us to bed with warm milk and leave surprises under our pillows.

Bacon and cantaloupe will always remind me of breakfast in their house. Floating pancakes too.

The tin of goldfish never runs dry.

When I was in the basement laundry room staring at that wallpaper I always kind of felt like I had gotten into a time machine.

We reenacted the nativity on Christmas Eves in the downstairs family room.

We watched The Littlest Angel on the TV.

Heartbroken, after getting divorced, I moved into that basement. I would cry myself to sleep feeling comforted by the fact that my mom had slept in that same room as a child and used the same bathroom. One Sunday morning while I was living there I climbed into bed with my Grandma and we watched Music and the Spoken Word and I asked her all about what it was like to give birth to her babies. I asked her how she felt after my Grandpa died. She missed him and so did I. I am grateful I had that morning.

A lot of these images won't make sense to everyone...but that's OK. They make sense to me and probably to my cousins.

Happy 90th birthday to my sweet amazing maternal Grandmother. Thank you for saying that every age is your favorite and that life just keeps getting better and better. Thank you for giving us our daughter's middle name. Thank you for talking nonstop about Fiji and prophets. Thank you for being such a bright happy spot in my life. Thank you loving me and letting me know I matter to you when so many people do. When I am one on one with you I always feel like the favorite. That's what makes you magic.

Grandma Mary Lou

I constantly have a running list of things I want to photograph burning a hole in my mind. It never gets smaller. No matter how many things I finish shooting on the list, another one jumps on, making it the never ending list of ideas.

For months, years really, one of the items on my list has been to photograph both of my grandmothers in the spaces they live in. Details of the homes that hold so many memories and feelings for me and I know other members of the family. The way it feels to see the front door. The shapes and colors and light that holds everything in place.

I know how special it is to have had such an amazing relationship with both of my grandmothers. And to have them both living while I start my own family is a treasure. One that I don't want to waste. So finally this last September I was able to squeeze in a few hours between other shoots to visit them in their homes and finally make these shoots happen. I would have liked days photographing each of them, but with a newborn and toddler at home one precious hour is what I had.

This is my Grandmother Mary Lou. We call her "Gram".

Before she lived here, her parents lived here. I would visit my Grandma and Grandpa Great on Sundays. We would run up to the phone to dial to be buzzed in. Then up the elevator to 7th heaven (and when you leave you go down to _elL). The elevator would open and the door to the apartment would always be opened and smiley wrinkly people would be waiting for you. When my Great Grandparents passed away and after my Grandfather Thurston passed away, my Grandma moved back from La Jolla, California. She had lived there with my grandfather for 15yrs. She moved back into this gorgeous condo overlooking the Salt Lake valley, adding another layer to the memories the space holds.

She grew up on Oahu and I love being able to see "Hawaii" when I am in her space. Most of the floral artwork in her home was done by her niece Jenny Jenkins Christensen. She is barefoot most of the time she is home. I love this, as my number one life goal is to never have to wear shoes.

Oh how I love this women. She has always been the best listener and still to this day can remember by name my childhood friends. She always stayed up to date on all the relationships I was in and in her heart of heart has always wanted happiness and love for each of her grandchildren. She is one of the most accepting women I know. She loves everyone and never once in my life have I felt less loved by her, even when I have made dumb mistakes. She loves me the same, even with my flaws. I grew up loving to shop with her at the naval bases. She taught me the art of making an "eggy with a hat on top". The beds in her guest bedroom always had those bumpy mattress pads. She has always had a thing for Elvis and we would watch Blue Hawaii with her as we slept at the foot of her bed.

Her and my Grandpa had 3 kids (my father is the oldest). During the first 15yrs of their marriage he was gone for 7 of those while he served in the Marines. She moved with him and her family all over the world. 7yrs away from her husband....raising kids on her own and having to make new friends every couple of years. So so impressive.

I could go on and on about how wonderful she is and how much she means to me. She loves family and photos and being with us. And I love being with her. I feel so grateful to have had so many one on one moments with her and she has deeply blessed my life. I hope one day I have a granddaughter that feels the way about me that I feel for her.

Gram, thank you for letting me take some photos of you and your home. Thank you for creating a space I have always felt comfortable and welcome in. I love you so much.






Reagan + Pip

While Reagan and I were driving on our way to this shoot, we had a really great conversation. We chatted about how different our mothering experiences are compared to each others and some mutual friends we have. The environments we get to mother in and the ways we get to mother are all different but they thing that amazed us was despite the differences we all had intrinsic similarities.  We were all 100% devoted and in love with our babies. We all worried about whether we were doing it right. We all wanted more time. We all deep deep deep down felt a connection that was now ours forever. It looks different from the outside but feels the same on the inside.

I only had 30mins to shoot these two and wish I had been able to stay for the entire day. I admire both of them so much.

Reagan is my all time favorite hairstylist and the world famous blogger behind Hairdresser On Fire. I found her blog years ago and was pretty smitten. Despite how much I wear my hair in a bun I am kind of into hair. I think when you have as much hair as I do and it's naturally curly you have no choice but to care. I loved they way she talked about hair. I contacted her about giving me a cut while I was in NY on work and found out we know a ton of mutual people. My love deepened. Then I found out she was a mother. I saw behind the scenes as she worked full time and took care of Piper. My jaw was on the floor. This woman was amazing.

Piper is one lucky duck to have her as a mom. And I am positive Reagan counts her lucky stars everyday for her sweet girl. There is just something about a mother and her daughter...and I think these images show a glimpse of that.

Thanks for letting me peak inside your world, you two. Wish I could give that Pip a squeeze and a kiss on the weekly. xxoo

Mandy + Matthew- San Francisco, CA

Did you know you can take photos for any ole reason? Doesn't have to be ONLY when you are getting married or sending out Christmas cards. Like these two...they just kind of like each other and thought "even old married couples deserve updated portraits" (Obviously they don't look old at all!..did they get married when they were 14?? Spring chickens).

It was such a nice day trip up to San Francisco for the shoot. We had sunshine and clouds...AND I ate an amazing lobster roll while I was there from Matthew and I even had a nice bonding moment discussing our love for lobster rolls.

Thanks so much for having me you two. And if anyone else in SF ever needs photos I am only a hop skip and a jump away. Love shooting (eating) there so much.


Remember that destination wedding I shot in Maui? Well, I have to wait to share all the images but wanted to give you a little peak. Here is the stunning bride not too long before she became a Mrs.

I die to share all of them. Soon enough.


Here is a little sneak peak (that I already shared on instagram. Follow me! _rachelthurston) of a super amazing project I have been working on.

I find that most of my personal projects end up being a challenge..and in turn produce some of the most gratifying images.

Thank you to all the moms and babes that participated.

I'm sure other artists can relate..but I lay in bed most nights and my mind turns with ideas and dreams and concepts and images. Having one of those mind turning ideas come to fruition brings tears to my eyes. Photography means so much to me. I feel so grateful.

(shot on the hasselblad with ilford 3200)


Jane + Kristine

Alternate blog title: Twins In A Riverbed.

Because that's what I did..I dragged them down to the bottom of the empty river canal near my home. It would have been super creepy expect I smiled a lot and talked about my vibes are the best way to reverse a possible creepster sitution.

How amazing are these two? Sure they are knock outs..but you should meet them. Their insides are even better than their outsides.

I always daydreamed about having an identical twin when I was younger. Somebody that had been with you since the very beginning. The very VERY beginning. There is something so fascinating about the dynamic of two people so similar and yet so drastically different from each other. I think twins are my new photo fetish.

All shot with ilford 3200 film on the true love for the last 12yrs.

Want me to drag you to the bottom of a river canal? Call or email!


Headshots are a lot of fun to shoot.

I love having a home "studio" with lots of great light to choose from.

Let me know if you are in need of new headshots..I don't think I would mind shooting more. I do live near Hollywood after all.


Benny + Malan

Benny is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We call ourselves the "Truth Seekers". We love to stay up all night and analyze love and light and heartache and any and every questions under the sun. I consider him a brother and I am his sister. When we stayed with him in his NYC apartment he gave up his bedroom for our crazy trio. He would do anything for me, Grant and Nova. I would do anything for him. He is without a doubt one of my true loves. We have been friends since we were 9yrs old. He lived across the street from me and we would meet in the middle and lay on the warm asphalt of summer and talk about growing pains. My life is fuller and richer because of him.

Here he is with his Malan. These two are an amazing couple. AND amazing uncles to our sweet Nova. One night while I was taking a break in the shower I could hear Grant, Benny and Malan playing with her and I could hear her giggling and chatting I stayed in the shower a few minutes longer.

I love both of you. Thank you for the amazing weekend in the city. You are both my "pipocas".

("just because" photos taken on the highline park. Have you been there? Amazing.)

Michelle & Film

I love how forgiving film is with highlights. I can overexpose almost any film 2 stops...not so with digital my friends.

All shot with the hasselblad 501cm, 80mm lens, ilford 3200 and portra 400. (Thanks to Richards Photo Lab for the processing and scans. I didn't do any adjustments or crops..they did all the post work for me!)

...but who really cares how I shot this and with what camera? I think what matters most was the pretty light and the red curls.


Did you know that I have a younger brother with red hair? Yes, I do.

We are going to be happy with whatever baby girl looks like...but we love that she has a fighting chance for some curly red locks.

Scott is the only person I have ever called "Bud". It's his nickname and his alone. Ever since he was really young he was Bud.

We couldn't be more different when it come to coloring. His skin is a few shades lighter than mine and he is the only one in our family with a distinct hair color. We do have some similarities though..We are both the self proclaimed computer experts in the family. We both think we are pretty funny (even if no one else is laughing). We both love lounging around home in comfy clothes and we both have strong opinions and aren't afraid to share them.

Once when he was young (under 10) he gave me a card that said, "I'm your knight in shining armor". I still have it. Then, during the darkest year of my life thus far, on my birthday...he made me a wood plaque that reads, "You're Loved". It's sitting in my office right now. I think it was the most meaningful gift I have ever been given.

He is pretty great, right? I think so.

(We did a little green-screen shoot for some business images he needed in Dec. This was one my favorite faces.)


Shooting, shooting, shooting and not very much blogging. My apologies.

The good news is that once I find some time I have LOTS of stuff to share.

I don't know about you guys, but I feel like a nap. xo.

The Wiz Of Oz

I know I have talked on this blog before of my obsession with my nieces and nephews, but have I really ever talked about my obsession with their mom? Now is the time.

Stephanie is my sister in law...but can we just cut the "in law" part and call her what she is.. MY SISTER. She is my sister. From the first time we met and my brother warned her that my opinion mattered, we were sisters. We clicked. Immediately. I can't tell you a time since we first met that I have ever felt uncomfortable around her. I haven't. It's impossible. She is one of the most affable, disarming and likable people. And although she has every reason to make you feel inferior, like her 4 amazingly stunning children she made from scratch, her looks, HER LOOKS, her social skills, her sex appeal...OK now I'm just getting creepy...She NEVER makes you feel any less than her. In fact, when you are around her, you actually feel better about yourself. She makes me feel important..and the ability to make others feels important and loved is an indispensable gift.

I recently had the great pleasure of stalking her on stage as she commanded an audience with her performance as Dorthy. She and my nieces have been performing with Broadway Bound, a great, local theater company based in Orange County. Michael, the Creative Director is amazingly talented. You can tell  that everyone  REALLY likes working with him.

This is a sampling of some last minute photos I snapped for the cast. Excuse the abundance of Stephanie....but..well..she shined.

If you were part of this cast contact Michael for information on where to view all of the images and how to buy a CD.

I love you Steph. You knocked my socks off. You always do.

(And congratulations to the entire cast. Your hard work paid off. The show was fantastic!)

(Geek Facts: No tripod was used. I rarely use a tripod unless I want to do a fairly long exposure...1sec or more. Everything was hand held and stage shots were all done with my 70-200 f2.8 lens. I was sitting middle back of the auditorium and was able to still get that close! Amazing right? I love that lens. When you shoot concerts or performances I know the reaction is to bump up your ISO but I wouldn't. I never shoot above a 400iso in those conditions..otherwise it just gets really contrasty and brassy looking and your highlights will be blown out. I try and shoot as wide open as possible so I can use as high of a shutter speed as possible. most stage shots were between f2.8 - 3.5 and shutter speed fluctuated between a 1/40 and 1/125 depending on the light. Everything was exposed manually. I did bounce some flash on some of the backstage shots but NO flash on stage shots. It would do no good since I was so far away.)