"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

Whats your season? Everybody seems to have their favorite.

Is it Fall, Autumn?  You know, the time of year when we all want to go leaf peeping and see the brilliant fall foliage? KDI-Child-Portraits-S-Kids-Family15_038Most years in Northern Arizona, the Aspens start turning from rich, radiant green to saturated yellow in late September. Some of that color can often be found as late as November. It starts on the mountain and moves into town, so different locations show their beauty at different periods within that few week window. It just so happens that lots of Flagstaff families and seniors in high school want to make portraits in that setting every year. In fact, October is our photo studio's absolute busiest month.

It makes sense that Fall is so popular for portraits. Like the San Francisco Peaks, those turning leaves are pretty iconic to us Flagstaff residents. Why do I mention this while we can still see some of the flowers of summer? Well, because we are already booking up our busy September and October and I don't want you to miss out. (It makes me sad when our clients are sad!) We fill up that time in our calendars every year, but this year we started booking the fall season sessions in February! We still have many studio sessions open but the location portrait sessions always go faster.

So, lovely past and future KDI Photography clients, consider this your friendly reminder. Fall will be here in a flash!


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. To see more, 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



By the time she finally called me, I could hear the guilt in her voice. They had waited and waited to find the right moment. Something always got in the way. The kids  had some school event or sports activity. She and her husband wanted to lose a little weight. One of her children was going through an "awkward teeth" phase. (For the record, I absolutely love the visual time machine aspect of "awkward teeth"!) Scheduling was always a challenge. Before they knew it, the kids were just SO MUCH older. She felt like some of the important moments in her family's life had been missed, photographically.

Have you ever heard that proverb: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now".

You know when the best time is to make portraits? Now.

Here are my top 7 reasons to have your portraits made during the summer:

1. Coordinating schedules is usually easier in the summer. It's less likely that you'll have to work around school events, sports, lessons and other after-school activities.summer family portraits flagstaff photographer

2. People often feel more “photo-ready" in the summer. We're outdoors, getting some sunshine and are usually more active than during the holidays.

3. Your stress level will be dramatically reduced when your holiday gift giving and holiday cards are completed before the rush sets in. And, when you and your family members find yourselves in relaxed summer mode during the session, your holiday portrait gifts and cards will show it!Family-Portrait-Flagstaff-AZ4. Family and senior portrait photographers (like me) ...continue reading 7 Reasons You’ll Love Having Portraits Made in Summer – Flagstaff Photographer


I first encountered Abbie when she was just a little little. During her family portraits, she and her siblings were adorably loving and sweet. An early example here, although her brother's not so sure about the snuggling!children snuggling, Flagstaff, AZ

Watching the 3 kids in this family grow, that loving sweetness hasn't changed. Something that has changed is that Abbie has blossomed into a brilliant artist,  committed runner, passionate skier, and someone who loves great books.  She has also, unfortunately, has had way more than her fair share of health challenges. Diagnosed with Dysautonomia, she has spent an enormous amount of time in the hospital and has been in an out of a wheelchair. She has seizures and chronic pain, she passes out, she sometimes loses the ability to speak, walk or use her hands. And yet, she rises with determination over and over again and resumes pursuing all of her many interests and talents. She doesn't seem to let anything stop her for very long. It's a quality that she shares with Olympic athletes I've photographed.

With all of this in mind, we set out to make a senior portrait of Abbie making art and also outdoors in her beloved snowy Flagstaff.

Senior Portrait, Flagstaff, AZThe manner in which Abbie makes her art shows her sheer will. She will set up her materials anywhere - in a cluttered office, on the floor, wherever she can find space. And what she creates is remarkable. Her work reveals the beauty inside her and also sometimes unveils her physical and emotional pain, too.

Senior Portrait, Flagstaff, AZI love how you can see in her face the strength she has inside.

Senior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZSenior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZAbbie's so inspiring that she's one of 4 nominees for a scholarship - an A.C.E. Award (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence)  from the Exchange Club of Flagstaff. The A.C.E. Award is presented to a senior high school student who has shown perseverance and success in meeting difficult personal and academic challenges in his or her high school experience.

Sounds right up her alley.

Senior Portrait in snow, Flagstaff, AZ

You can read more about Abbie's health and her phenomenal art in a recent article in the Arizona Daily Sun here.