I Don’t Know What is Next

I Don’t Know What is Next

Over the winter, I made a plan to stop shooting weddings. I announced that here on the blog at the end of January. I had started working on a new business plan and I was really excited to see where 2020 would take me. I went on vacation to Palm Springs during the first week of February, got sick the next week (was it? wasn’t it? we’ll never know) and when I finally felt better in March, the world shut down. And my new business plan was dead in the water. My industry is dead. My business plan relied heavily on the wedding and event industry, my industry, being busy.

And then, two weeks ago, my husband got a job offer in his hometown of Munich, Germany. This isn’t something that was unexpected. We had been making plans to move to Germany for a while now. But it was much sooner than expected, with a much faster timeline that we expected. And so we’re moving this fall! My husband leaves in a few weeks, the kiddo and I will follow after we get the house packed and ready to sell. And I really don’t know what is next.

Do I restart my business as a photographer in Munich? Do I pursue another self employed gig there? How do I even go about starting a business in Germany? Do I work remotely as an American company or for one? Do I find a full time job in Munich? That last one isn’t as bad as I first thought, if the benefits are anything like my husband’s job offering (6 weeks of vacation time, what?!). For now, I know that I need to finish the projects that are currently open in our house, pack up our belongings (and sell what we aren’t taking) and figure out where we’re living after the temp housing we’re booking. This site won’t go away, no matter what I do. Maybe I’ll blog about life abroad, or maybe I’ll spin it into something new. Who knows?

Over the past year, we’ve done most everything with the following question to guide us: does this move us closer to our goal, or further away? For us, the goal was moving to Munich. So, every big purchase, every choice we made, every house project, etc. was made with that in mind. It seems sudden to those who didn’t know what was happening behind the scenes. Just like it seems like a duck is gliding effortlessly across a like, all while paddling like mad under the surface.

I am endlessly grateful for the nine years I’ve had running this business. I’m leaving on a very, very strange note, but I am proud of the work I’ve done over the years. So! Work towards your goals. Live the life your heard desires. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and vote in every election.

While things will be slow here, you’ll be able to find updates about our new plans on Instagram at @wenzel.haus

Photo by The Leo Loves Photography in San Diego. 

Letting Go and Going Forward

Letting Go and Going Forward

Our lives are defined by a series of moments. A flip book of little snapshots that make up a whole life. Blink and the years fly by. That’s why I became a photographer. To define those moments in the flipbook of people’s lives.

All my life, I’ve wanted to tell stories. Stories have shaped me into who I am today. My great-grandma’s stories of leaving Switzerland as a teen. My grandfather’s stories of serving in World War Two. My mama’s stories of visiting her grandparents’ store as a child. As a nerdy, artistic kid who never fit in, books were my best friends. I laughed at the escapades of Anne of Green Gables. I dreamed of magic with Harry Potter. I fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett. I drew and read and dreamed and wished for a place where I could sum up the world in a few hundred pages. I traveled the world to find something that I couldn’t define. I went to college to study history because I needed to know why those stories were so important. I saw how stories could shape the world. I learned to use my skills as a photographer to capture other people’s stories.

As I get older, the stories I read and want to tell are changing. Last year, I cut way back on shooting weddings, and recently, I realized, it was time to put aside that story. I won’t say that I will never shoot another wedding, because I might change my mind in a couple years and miss weddings. For now, I want to focus on other things, on other stories. I’m not sure what will happen with the website or the blog, but my goal is to catch up on my backlog this year, and enjoy these last few weddings. I’ve been shooting a lot more families and small businesses, and I’m not sure what the future will hold at this moment. I know I’ll always be a storyteller, and I’m opening my heart up to the next chapter of stories.

I’ve got some ideas, and I hate to be vague, but first, I’m going to enjoy the last bit of this season of my life, and spend some time trying new things, before I make any announcements.

Wedding portraits in a field in the Methow Valley

July + August — PNW Summer

July + August — PNW Summer

I feel like this summer just flew past us. Maybe it’s because we skipped fall and with the snow (snow!) last weekend, I feel like I should be getting ready for Christmas instead of Halloween. Ahhh! July and August were good. July was super super busy, and I helped organize a huge event for my neighborhood. August I took some time off and was able to catch up on a few personal things and really breathe. It was nice. I need to do that every summer.

1.  We hopped over to Montana/Idaho and rode the Hiawatha Trail with my family. We’ve been doing this off and on for over a decade (H and I rode it for the first time in 2008!), and it’s crazy how popular and busy it has gotten.

2. Running running running. I can’t even tell you where I took this photo, because all I did all month in July was dash from an event to a meeting to my office and back again. It was bonkers, I was beat, and yet, I loved every minute of the work I did.

3 & 4: These sweet garden photos make me so sad, especially since our garden got killed by the snow and frost we’ve had this week. My little garden helper is pretty bummed that we’re not picking tomatoes every day now.

5. This good boy. Some days this dog drives me crazy, especially when his fur is all over our house, but most days, I’m so thankful we have a dog. I love having him next to me in my office all day while I work, and I love when we get to take walks together.

6. I had to swing up to the north side to run some errands, and while I was there, I went to World Market. Y’all, if you are an expat, or have lived overseas, you know the dangers of World Market. I loaded up my basket with way too many goodies from places I miss. Even with trips to Germany every 6-12 months, we still can’t bring back enough of the things we miss. So stocking up in between is the most bittersweet thing.

7. In July, I helped put together the South Perry Street Fair. It was one of the hardest, craziest, most amazing things I’ve ever done. And it was exhausting, but so great to see something we’d planned for months come to life.

8. Sometimes I photograph events that have petting zoos. And I take photos of them to send to my daughter who is pretty into Llama, llama, red pajama. She was pretty thrilled.

9. What’s more fun than stealing mom’s garden hat? Stealing mom’s garden hat and asking her to take photos to send to grandma.

10. Little miss decided that Shadow was a her baby and needed a blanket in order to take a nap. I was so surprised at how well he took it. He gave me the saddest face every, and yet, he just laid there and let her put blankets on her until she got distracted and then he ran away.

11 & 12. We traveled all the way over to the Olympic peninsula for my brother in law’s wedding, which I was a guest at (yayay!) and the other two were in. Little miss had a hard time understanding that the ferry was a boat, and that the car could go on the boat. Then she loved it, and sobbed when we had to get off. Plus, the views of downtown from the Bainbridge ferry are my favorite.

13 & 14. We have been looking into an electric cargo bike to lower our carbon footprint and reduce our car dependency (and get outside more). We test rode a couple bikes at G&O Family Cyclery in Seattle in August and loved it. Dreaming of the day we can get one!

15&16. We stopped in Leavenworth for a bit of family time on our way back from the wedding and enjoyed this short hike. N has reached a point where she can hike part or all of a short hike on her own, and then goes up in the backpack when she gets tired. She loved it!

17. I did some solo blueberry picking at Greenbluff this summer, in order to maybe get some of the blueberries that we go through each year. This might hold us for a couple months? We go through a lot of berries!

18. The garden was very good this year. There were days when I was picking 15+ pounds of produce from our garden, and we couldn’t keep up. Luckily, our daycare teachers and H’s coworkers were happy to take the extras.

20. Another day, another produce haul.

21. This summer, we tried to bike to school once a week. Sometimes I had meeting right after drop off, and we couldn’t do it, but we had so much fun. Can’t wait to get the ebike!

22. My office and the guestroom had the least functional closet ever, and to fix that, I ripped out the old system and we installed a new one. Now it’s no longer a black hole!

23. Summer rainstorms are great for finding puddles! N insisted on wearing her snow boots instead of her rain boots, and under her rain suit, she was wearing shorts and a tanktop! What a silly kid!!

And that was a look at July and August! Still trying to catch up on all the rest of my blogging too. I’ll get there eventually.

Portland Art Museum Engagement Session

Portland Art Museum Engagement Session

Hannah and Jay are getting married this week, and even though I’m woefully behind on blogging, I was determined to get their engagement session posted before their wedding! Hannah and I have known each other for nearly half our lives, after we studied abroad together. I was so excited to meet Jay and shoot their engagement session over the summer while I was down in Portland. Hannah and Jay had one of their first dates at the Portland Art Museum, so it was only fitting that they also have their engagement session there!

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Prague on Film

Prague on Film

As many of you know, I’m a native American who has lived abroad. I lived in the Czech Republic twice as a student, and married a German. Our lives are this incredible mix of Germany and American and Czechia. A hodge podge of cobblestone streets, castles, wide open spaces, mountains, bikes, and long road trips. No matter where I have lived over the past 15 years, my heart has always had a piece missing. It’s the reason I travel so much. It’s the reason our daughter is bilingual.

I am so lucky to have been able to study abroad, so glad to have met my husband, but there are days when the homesickness is really hard. And no matter where we live, no matter how recently we’ve been back to Europe or have another trip planned, a part of our lives is always missing. It’s celebrating German holidays and Czech holidays quietly at home. It’s phone calls and texts and emails to friends and family far away. It’s long flights and castles and cake and friends you travel halfway around the world to see.

Last spring, I found amazingly cheap tickets to Prague and without really thinking, I booked them. I booked them because it had been 4 years since I had been back and I was desperate for my host family to meet my husband (who hadn’t made that trip with me) and our daughter. And today I realized, I haven’t shared some of the photos I took, photos of places I used to walk all the time when I lived in Olomouc and Prague, and I am feeling extremely homesick, as I always do in the fall, and so here you go.

Prague is a quirky place to travel with a little kid. It’s not exactly stroller friendly, and it’s not filled with playgrounds or kids museums, but Czechs love kids. I think it’s best as a town for tiny babies or for slightly older kids, but found parks and playgrounds. We stayed in Prague 6 this time, at this sweet family apartment near a bunch of embassies and I hadn’t spent much time on that side of the river when I lived in Prague. We loved the apartment, and we were so sad to leave.

In Olomouc, I got to show my family all the the places I used to go, and we spent a few days with my host family. It was so strange to see my old school, the main square, and all my old spots. We met up with a few friends in both Prague and Olomouc and it just…was so good to show my husband and daughter all the places I used to go all the time.

All these photos were shot on my Nikon FG 20 film camera, on Portra 160 and Portra 800.

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May + June – Springtime Adventures

May + June – Springtime Adventures

It’s been a while, yeah? I’m at a point where I’m not sure if I’ll ever catch up on blogging, and whether this whole blog thing is even worth it? I know I like blogs more than social media, but everything is on IG and FB now. Some of these photos were there too, but I love being able to look back at these posts as journal entries, so I’m blogging them. For me, if not for the rest of you.

Slightly related: I’ve been thinking of just turning off the comments on my blog, since the only ones I get are spam comments? Do people care?

May & June 2019
1. Spring came late this year, and we were able to catch this tree in our neighborhood still blooming in early May. I didn’t get any good photos of my lilac this year.

2. Little miss is a huge fan of the hammock, and when the sun started coming out this spring, she would insist on hanging out in it, even when it was cold enough to be wearing scarves and hats still. She would rather be outside than inside 95% of the time.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

3. This spring, I had the genius idea that we were going to redo our veggie garden and swore to my husband that it would only take a couple weeks. It took nearly two months, because it wouldn’t stop raining long enough for us to do the work. Our grass got neglected as a result and Shadow took to hiding and pouncing like a lion.

4. Progress! All the grass removed and we had the ground tamped down and level.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

5. Cheering for papa and grandma at Bloomsday this year. We had a fun time hanging out, cheering for them, and petting lots of puppies as we waited for them. We were a bit bummed that they have changed the rules on the bridge, and we couldn’t cross over to see them finish. Maybe next year we’ll bring the bike down so we can get over there faster?

6. First hot spring day and she demanded shorts and a tank top and a visit to the park.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

7. Is it even spring if you don’t make at least one batch of lemon bars and eat a couple for lunch? Wait, don’t answer that.

8. We met up with friends out at Discovery Park in the valley. We’ve been past it a bunch, but never stopped. It’s HUGE and we left before we even had a chance to explore the whole place.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

9. Our sofa is from IKEA and was worse for the wear after 6 years and a cat who decided the fabric was perfect to use as a scratching post. Grrr. We spent a few months searching for a new sofa, only to realize we didn’t want to spend that much money on something that would just get thrashed again by a small kid and two pets. So instead, I started ordering samples from Comfort Works and Bemz. We went with a cover from Comfort Works…but none of the colors here!

10. Our little home renovation assistant helping papa get lumber at the store.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

11. My parents took N for the weekend and we knew we had a limited number of hours to work on the house. First up was a quick trip to Home Depot in the rain, and then we worked and worked and worked all weekend.

12. The bonus of that weekend is that our neighbors sent us a lovely loaf of bread and while we were both so sore we could barely breathe on Monday, we got the garden mostly finished and a few other projects completed too.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

13. The completed garden! It was so bare in early May, and then we planted a bunch of seedlings and now it’s overflowing with plants.

14. Since all our time and energy went to rebuilding the garden, we stocked up on 90% of our plants at the local nursery, but the peas were a seed I started inside. Impressively, after a warm couple weeks in June, the weather cooled back down and those peas lasted until late July!

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

15. & 16. I shot a styled shoot with Red Letter Event Planning at the end of May, and I can’t wait to share it all with you when it goes live in September!!

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

17. Normally, we are all about our reindeer, but one day, N wanted to take Krtek (he’s Czech) to the library, and then she found this book about a Silly Goose, by a Czech author. A little bit of my home away from home.

18. N and H drove down to Portland, and I stayed behind for a couple meetings. I flew down the next day, and it felt so luxe to fly solo.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

19. While in Portland, we met up with friends and went to the zoo, where I snapped exactly two photos, this being one of them. We miss them terribly, so it was SUPER nice to see them again.

20. Also while in Portland, I took photos for one of my 2019 couples! They’re pretty fun to work with, and sometime soon I’ll blog their engagement session. I hope…

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

21. This summer has been a lot of hanging out with my girl on our mama days and spending the days with her…

22. …and then during nap and after bedtime, hiding in my office and working like crazy to get photos edited and emails answered. Anyone else feel like it’s super hard to balance everything?

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June

23. Checking on our garden and picking snap peas. They rarely make it into the house, and instead end up in her belly before we leave the garden. 100% okay with that.

24. Somehow ended up with a Saturday with no plans and we biked down to the farmer’s market, and then had a picnic lunch in the park. It was a perfect way to end the month, before diving into a crazy crazy month in July.

Behind the scenes with Emily Wenzel Photography in May and June