Rikki Rivera | Photographer » Wedding & Portrait Photography

I have loved seeing so many people jump on the #2015bestnine as we close out and say goodbye to this year. What a ride it’s been! So in my best attempt to pick only nine images to share, I came to nearly 40, which I felt was quite the feat, because if you saw how many photos I end up with each year – you know what, we don’t need to talk about that. I truly love documenting and that’s what this is all about anyway, haha. 2015 brought many things for my family, but as our story usually goes, it was more mellow than our usual, so I’m anticipating 2016 to be an even more wild ride! Just the way we like it :). So this year, we explored new places throughout the Pacific Northwest, built new gardens at home (including a greenhouse), welcomed a niece AND nephew to our family, our two dearest friends welcomed baby girl’s as well, went on my first trip to the East coast (LOVED IT), my babies started preschool and 5th grade, my other niece came to visit us for the summer (her first time to WA), Alyx and Kate learned to play piano, Alyx is also practicing the viola, and my husband and I took our CJ’s out for the first time together (we’ve waited so long to do that) – are just some of the best things that come to mind from the year.

I’m so grateful to have another year, to see another birthday, to be apart of my children’s stories, and to really live every chance we get. Some days, weeks, and months were harder than others, but it’s all apart of the journey and who we are – I’ve found that giving myself grace this year has made a huge difference. Grace that nothing is perfect, embracing my imperfections, and even giving grace to my husband and children when needed. So if there’s one thing for you to take away from this, it’s to give yourself grace next year. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Don’t set unrealistic goals, but maybe raise your standards instead. Live a little more, play more, love more, enjoy good food, get enough sleep, take care of yourself, spend more time with family and friends, explore new places. These are my resolutions. These are the things that I look forward to in the coming year. I wish nothing but the very best for all of you in the new year. Dream big, my friends!

I can’t get over this sweet family and maternity session. The Soelling family are one of my very favorites and we always have a really good time together! So when Madi e-mailed me saying they were expecting another sweet boy, I was over the moon! I looked back at their first family session this time last year and it’s so fun to see all of our growth since then! I really loved that we spent a little time last year and this year at their home around Christmas time + even more so, because Madi has impeccable taste and makes everything look so good in my camera. Their smiles – I just can’t get over the incredible smiles. And her perfect little baby bump.

Thanks so much Madi + Johnny for all of your incredibly kind words and for having so much fun with me! An extra special thanks John Edward for letting me go to the park with him :). I cannot wait until Ben arrives, he is already such a lucky little brother! I wish you guys the very Merriest of Christmases!

  • Storytelling through photography - February 11, 2016 - 9:34 pm

    […] has been my third session with this darling family, their first as a family of three, then again when expecting Ben, and now that he is here. When walking into their now familiar home, I am greeted warmly and caught […] Reply Cancel

  • Tacoma Newborn | Benjamin - February 27, 2016 - 3:53 pm

    […] a family of three, to expecting, and as a family of four. I’ve loved being apart of your […] Reply Cancel

  • Newborn Olliver Michael - June 28, 2016 - 6:26 pm

    […] the sweetest thing when I get invited to capture extended family of previous clients. JJ, sister of Madi, who’s family I’ve photographed for the past few years, had a precious baby boy and […] Reply Cancel

  • Soelling Family | North Tacoma - January 9, 2017 - 3:39 am

    […] grow from 3 to 4, seeing little Johnny become a big brother, and seeing John and Madi be such wonderful parents. Last year, I was there to welcome little Benny into the family and am so excited to celebrate his […] Reply Cancel

We drove for a few hours. It was one of our favorite drives. Our destination selected and technology leading the way. I was so excited to finally visit a new location I’ve long awaited to explore. As we drew closer, we had a feeling that our GPS wasn’t actually taking us where we wanted to go, but we followed it anyway.


We made a left turn off the main road, knowing again, this wasn’t right. We pulled over, went over our options, and decided to keep on going. This could be good. So on we went. Alongside a beautiful river, thick with trees and only a smattering of houses near the entrance, we kept on until there were no more homes, until we couldn’t see the river anymore, few other people, and on up the mountainside.


Our first stop was a lookout over the river. It was breathtakingly beautiful. There was once a dam, but it had long since been blown out, no more resorts to attract tourists, no more fish swimming in the river. But the view remained. I looked over to my husband and said, “I would still stay here if there was a resort. Look at this!” Thick evergreens surrounded the now mostly empty lake that led to the canyon and river below. The view went for miles and was thick with fog, I couldn’t stop gawking. How could I? We get out to stretch our legs, read the information board, then continue on up the mountain.


We hit thick fog. I love fog, and I love taking photos in the fog. It’s weather, an element that can’t truly be replicated and that offers a uniqueness to photos. The forest was like the rainforest further on in Forks, the Hoh rainforest. Very reminiscent of the place we know well. When I was deployed, I read that the Hoh rainforest was one of the top ten quietest places on earth. I set in my mind that I would go here. This was before I knew what Twilight was and that’s why people actually visit Forks. You’re missing out if that’s your actual goal. It feels like home now. It’s familiar, welcoming, and comfortable.

The trees are moss covered, rain soaked, shimmering, and there they were – deer. Two does and a buck paused and watched us. We stopped too. They were beautiful and in their element. I love that. So we watched, and when I realized they weren’t going to run off, I grabbed my camera and started shooting. Of course I did. We slowly crept on, still admiring the scene.


As the roads twisted and turned, I finally decided “Ok, let’s just stop here.” I’m never sure what I’m looking for, I just wait until it feels right. It felt right. As silly as it is, I get anxious taking pictures of my family with me in them. It’s not easy to take your own photos, but I love the challenge, the adventure, and the intimacy. I wanted this time to be better, as if I was taking pictures of other people. I can do this. But I started psyching myself out, the whole time I kept thinking, ‘I’m not going to take our pictures, we just might not do Christmas cards this year, it’s ok.’

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Bless my husband’s heart, because he knows I really do want this. I want beautiful photos of our family, but he also knows how hard I am on myself. I’m determined not to get a bad attitude and ruin the fun we could have, because I lose my confidence so badly. I want this to be fun, I want our kids to enjoy what we’re doing, most importantly, I want this to still be a great adventure. It can be and I can do this. So we stopped and got out. The kids ran for the puddles. I loved watching their joy. So precious and real, I hope they never lose that.

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To be perfectly honest, I don’t like the way I look in most of the pictures I took. I usually don’t. But that’s ok, because we’re together and this is us. I love the pictures. I love that I’m able to capture my family so beautifully, the joy in my kids, the love of my husband, and the beauty of our state. Washington is home. I’m grateful for that.

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Don’t forget to take family pictures this year, even if you don’t send out Christmas cards. It’s important to document your family and your life, and you there with the ones you love even if you don’t like the way you look right now. Your kids don’t see that, your husband probably doesn’t either. So embrace the moment and remember what’s important. These moments, these are what matter.

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  • Koch Family Photos | Woodland, Wa - November 14, 2016 - 9:01 pm

    […] Take a peek at last year’s adventure for our family photos, HERE. […] Reply Cancel