"It’s benign.”  Isn’t that such a great sentence? Who doesn't want to hear that the issue they're having is harmless, noncancerous?

Those two words are an excerpt from one of my earliest conversations with radiologist Ken Salce. I hope he gets to say that to patients every day but, for me, hearing it was remarkable. It was a long time ago, but ever since that day, seeing him has always been a happy reminder of his compassionately issued reassurance.

Flagstaff AZ Location Couples PortraitWhen I bumped into him at a fundraiser with his sweetie, Tara Cecil, she gave me reason to smile, too. She is a person who is filled with light and enthusiasm and love, all of which  radiate out of her face.Flagstaff AZ Location Couples Portrait  You can't miss it, it's contagious.

They are amazing together, sharing private jokes, finishing each other sentences. They share an easy confidence and it’s just a good feeling to be around them. When Tara finished her PhD and they set a date for their upcoming wedding, we made plans to create some overdue couples portraits. Their way of being together makes my job a breeze, I sometimes think they'veFlagstaff AZ Location Couples Portrait forgotten I’m there, with my camera!

We made the first photographs in the bucolic summer in Flagstaff, with  abundant, saturated yellow flowers surrounding the happy couple.

For their second portrait session, the turning leaves of the golden aspens in Northern Arizona were in their fullest glory.

Despite the fact that both of them work at Flagstaff Medical Center, Ken and Tara ...continue reading Couples Portraits in Flagstaff, AZ – Northern Arizona Photographer

She was clearly getting ready to say something. She stood in front of me and paused, looking at the floor for a second. When she did glance up at me, she quietly mumbled, 'I'm gonna miss you.' I said 'Oh, I know. Me too. I always love when I get to play with you.'

Later, at the end of the very full day, KDI Photography I looked at the wax bracelet she'd made me, snuggled sloppily around my wrist, and smiled again. My 3-year-old friend (she'd made a point to assure me we were real 'friends') had arrived in the morning with her awesome parents for their portrait View and Order meeting like she almost always arrives - looking very serious and shy. About 15 minutes in, she usually starts to warm up and progresses from there to the freely-climbing-on-my-lap level, and then finally on to full-out dance party mode by the time she has to go. In like a lamb and out like a very playful, giggly lion.

Today, our little dance break needed no music except us humming along to our crazy steps. I'll confess, I love it when kids are reluctant to leave the studio because it means they're happy to be here. Fortunately, I'll get to see her again soon - there's more on the calendar with her delightful family.

The bracelet was tangible evidence of some sweetness in a day that was full of sweet moments. A wonderful email from clients who were happily surprised by something that Keiji and I sneakily included in their order; a newborn's sleepy sounds, furrowed brow, and prayerful toes; parental expressions as they reacted to their teenage daughter's photographs; a woman's joyfully enthusiastic voice on the phone as we conspired about her upcoming couples engagement portrait.

Again and again, beautiful souls somehow find us, walk through our studio door, and fill up my heart. Their presence is an amazing gift.


Kristen Dacey Iwai of KDI Photography is a full-time professional portrait photographer based in Flagstaff, Arizona with more than 2 decades of experience. Making portraits of families, pregnancy, newborns, babies, children, high school seniors and for businesses in her downtown studio and on location, she serves clients from Flagstaff, Sedona, Tuba City, Winslow, Payson, Page, Williams, Prescott, Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona. Please visit KDI Photography's website.

Flagstaff Family Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Maternity Pregnancy Photographer • Flagstaff Newborn Photographer • Flagstaff Child Photographer • Flagstaff Senior Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Commercial Photography


It's the first time I cried while changing the picture on our photography studio's sign. We switch the portraits on our sign every few months but we put this portrait of a father and son up for a very different reason than the usual. We want to honor a friend who just passed away unexpectedly. Ed George was an amazing cinematographer/ still photographer, and an all-around great guy. Every time I saw him, his passion for his work, his family, and his life were very evident. His inner delight and enthusiasm shined out of his crystal clear, crinkly blue eyes. You can see some of his character in these portraits with his son, Kyle.

Father and Son Portrait, Flagstaff, AZA few months ago, I was talking to Ed about his latest globe-trotting adventures. He'd been to several countries recently, was working on an amazing film project here in town and then planned to gallivant off to yet another exotic locale. Through his work, he'd been stalked by lions, filmed anacondas, swam with sharks. I said "Wow, Ed! Do you ever stop to realize that you have an amazing, enviable life? I mean, so many people only dream of the kind of life you have and would probably love to trade places with you!" He paused, smiled and said, "Yeah, well I'm not getting rich, but yes, it  is a great life. I really feel grateful."

Father and Son Portrait, Flagstaff, AZThis beautiful, very short film about Ed George is worth watching.

He will be missed.


I first photographed Annette when she was pregnant with her youngest daughter, who is now in middle school. I remember her reporting that her husband Nate loved a portrait of her laughing hard, holding her round belly. When I finally met him, I saw that humor was so much a part of who he was. If you live in Flagstaff, you undoubtedly know that Nate passed away in 2012 in an accident, leaving behind a huge hole in our community. Over the years that I knew him, he expertly modeled four things for me:
1. Make sure that the people you love, know it.
2. Be comfortable in your own skin.
3. Bring humor with you wherever you go.
4. Help when you can.
His family is amazing and they’ve let his life and remarkable style be a reminder to all of us to make it the Best Life Ever. BLE. Each of these 4 unique beautiful souls are so dear to me. They always make me laugh hard when we’re together and this session in Oak Creek was no different. All of them have the family humor, strength and kindness. I hope you can get a sense of that in these portraits.

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