Kristin Cooley Photography │Kenai, AK │Alaska Wedding, Engagement, Portrait, Family, Senior Photographer bio picture
  • Hi! I'm Kristin Cooley and I'm a wedding and portrait photographer here in Alaska. I live on the Kenai Peninsula, but I photograph weddings and portraits all over Alaska and even destination weddings. Planning a wedding in Hawaii? Fiji? Or some other exotic destination? I'm your girl!

    I recently got married, so if you have any wedding planning questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I know, first hand, how overwhelming wedding planning can be, but with the right tools, tips, and tricks it can actually turn out to be a lot of fun!

    I was born and raised in California, but I'm a true Alaskan girl at heart. I'm a dedicated fisherwoman and a lover of everything outdoors. In the summer, you'll find my hubby and I fishing into the wee hours of the night. In the winter, you'll find us snuggled up at home, spending time with our two little munchkins, Scarlett & Lincoln, having movie marathons, and spoiling our two dogs.

    If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact me at


23 weeks – caMOOSEflage, mushroom power, Jasmine Star and the perfectly backlit dress, and JD’s Nicki Minaj cover…

Yep that’s right, I skipped a week of pregnancy posts. Oh well, life got a little too hectic last week, more on that later.

I did it, I finally gave in and bought my very first piece of baby clothes. I mean, how can you expect me to resist a caMOOSEflage onsie?! (The Moose is Loose is a local bakery here that bakes all sorts of delicious goodies and has an endless supply of moose paraphernalia.)

How Far Along: 23 weeks

Size of baby: 11 1/2 inches, 1.1 lb, the length of a spaghetti squash.

Total Weight Gain: 9 lbs, I’m still holding on to the hope that I won’t gain a ton. **fingers crossed**

Maternity Clothes: The grey pants fit!! Thank God, haha!! They’re a subtle plaid, but after my long search I don’t even care. I’ll wear them as a solid and hope no one notices.

Gender: 5 more weeks until we have our 2nd gender ultrasound, we’ll see if anything changes at all, but still going with a girl for now. 

Movement: She’s a mover and a shaker. She’s always moved to music, but her newest thing is squirming around when Brody barks at something. A couple of times we’ve been laying on the couch or in bed and J starts rough housing with Brody. His barking and squealing sends her into a somersault rampage, it’s pretty cute. A few times now I’ve actually been able to see her moving, it’s so surreal to see your belly moving, sort of like something out of the movie Alien.

Oh!!! J FINALLY got to feel her move on Sunday. I keep putting his hand on my belly and hoping he’ll feel it. It’s hard because I can feel her move, but that’s only because I can feel it from the inside. On Sunday, I pushed his hand into my belly and I felt her move, but wasn’t sure if he did. When I asked if he felt it he goes, “Yea I felt that, wiggling and squirming around in there. It’s probably because you’re pushing on it!! I’d be moving too if you were pushing on me, I’d be like, ‘Hey! What the hell!'” I was soooo excited he finally got to feel her. I can’t wait until she’s kicking and moving even stronger, then he’ll barely even have to touch me to feel it.

Sleep: Boy did we get to catch up on our sleep over the weekend. We were pretty much bums all weekend, we laid around watching movies and doing a whole lot of nothing, which was pretty nice after the crazy week we had last week (J ended up rolling and totaling his truck last week, he walked away with only scrapes and bruises, he’s pretty damn lucky).

What I miss: There’s honestly not much I miss. I’m loving being pregnant. There are days I get a little more uncomfortable than others, but I just chalk it up to her growing and stretching in there. Some days I feel like I could burst. I told J the other night that I felt so bloated and huge, it felt like if he even so much as poked me, I’d explode everywhere. He just laughed and rolled his eyes. But the next day I felt fine again, thankfully it doesn’t last very long and I go back to feeling normal again.

Cravings: Donuts, donuts, and more donuts. Chocolate-y ones to be exact. I’ve also had this new found obsession with these mushrooms that our friend Marissa’s mom made while she was visiting. Okay, first of all, let it be known that I’ve never really cared for mushrooms. I don’t like them on pizza or in salad, but lately I’ve been liking cooked or sauteed ones more and more. This recipe is so simple, you literally cook them in butter, white wine, minced garlic, garlic powder, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. It makes this yummy garlic-y, butter-y, cheese sauce that’s TO DIE FOR. Yummm….okay now I’m hungry.

Symptoms: Believe it or not, my heartburn has calmed down quite a bit. I still get it here and there, but for the most part it’s a lot less than before. I’ve definitely had the crazy pregnancy dreams everyone talks about. A few weeks ago I had one involving a whole mix of crazy things including one of my favorite wedding photographers Jasmine Star, her adorable husband (and business partner) JD, and a perfectly backlit wedding dress in a window (yes, apparently I dream about the perfect wedding dress shot). The dream then somehow segued into a bunch of hillbillies four-wheeling through our yard and ended with some vague reference to Nicki Minaj’s “Starships”. I don’t remember exactly, but I’d like to think JD would have one hell of a “Starships” karaoke cover, don’t you think??

What I’m looking forward to: Our 24 week appointment on Monday, I’m really hoping the midwife will have time to sneak us into the back for a free ultrasound, but we’ll see. I’m NOT looking forward to drinking the stuff for the glucose test, but I’m sure it’s not too bad, hopefully I don’t have gestational diabetes.

August 21, 2012 - 12:17 pm

kristen - Yay! The weekly baby update is back! Love reading all about her progress, it only makes me mildly jealous LOL. Glad to hear you are feeling good this week, hope that lasts for you!

September 3, 2012 - 3:18 am

Yogini - hey what is your fb page

1 Year Anniversary

One year ago today, I married my best friend and we started our journey together as husband and wife. I can’t believe it’s been a year!! I also can’t believe we’ve been together for almost 6 1/2 years, time flies, that’s for sure. As J said last night, before we know it, it’ll have been 10 years. Even though we’ve had a crazy, wild ride, I can’t imagine a day of my life without him in it. He ‘s my best friend, my soul mate, and at times he knows me better than I know myself. Here’s to many more amazing years to come.

August 20, 2012 - 2:25 pm

Mel - So beautiful! 🙂

August 20, 2012 - 2:42 pm

Kristen - Happy 1st Anniversary and cheers to many, many more happy, healthy & wealthy years together!

21 weeks – baby belly photos, heartburn from hell, and Fruity Pebbles

This post is a wee bit late, considering I’ll be 22 weeks tomorrow, but I drafted it last week and then never had a chance to post since I was so busy with work and shooting a lovely wedding on Friday. Lucky you, you’ll get 2 posts this week!! (And by you, I mean all 1 of you who reads my blog. Shout out to Kristen, love ya girly!!)

At the request of a dear friend of mine, here’s both a belly photo and a full body photo. I’ve only been taking belly photos so far and she kept asking for a full body one (which I’m not the biggest fan of). Here’s me, last week, at 21 weeks.


How Far Along: 21 weeks

Size of baby: 10 1/2 inches, 12 1/2 ounces, the length of a banana. (Seriously?! It grew 4 inches and 2 ounces in a week!? No wonder I feel like my belly is growing by the minute.)

Total Weight Gain: 7 lbs, not too bad for being more than 1/2 way along right?

Maternity Clothes: I finally ordered some more pairs of gray work pants to try, hopefully they fit.

Gender: Still going with a girl, unless the Dr. tells us otherwise at our next ultrasound.

Movement: She’s a pretty active girl for the most part, even the Dr. made a comment about how active she was during our ultrasound. I haven’t felt her move quite as much the last few days though. It seems like whenever she’s growing (and this is just my theory, obviously I have no idea) she doesn’t move around as much. There are days when it’s almost as if I can feel her growing. This may sound silly, but I swear there are days where everything suddenly feels tight and constricted, as if she’s getting bigger. Then, the next thing I know, a few days later she’s back to moving around, doing somersaults, and being her normal active self.

Sleep: I’m still sleeping pretty well so far, although I still desperately miss being able to sleep on my belly. I wake up some mornings stiff as a board because I’ve only been laying on one side all night, which is not normal for me at all. Before being pregnant, I would toss and turn all through the night, from belly, to side, to back, and all the way over again.

What I miss: There’s really not a ton a miss, actually. I’m really enjoying pregnancy, this could be dangerous. Now I understand what J’s mom meant when she told me, “If I had been in a loving, committed relationship at your age, I would’ve had 10 babies, I loved being pregnant so much!!” J just might be in for it. 😉 Although I know he wouldn’t mind, I still love it when people ask us how many kids we want and he immediately pipes up with, “Four!” I’m always expecting him to say less, as we get older, but his answer never changes and it always makes me smile.

Cravings: I’m back to craving sweet stuff like crazy. In the first trimester I didn’t want sweets at all, which is out of the ordinary for me, but this trimester I’m back to my normal self. Lately all I want are donuts, cakes, andcandy. I even found myself looking through my recipe board on Pinterest and wanting to make all of the sugary sweet stuff I had pinned in the past. I’ve been eating Fruity Pebbles like crazy too! So has J, we’ve gone through 2 of this GIANT bags of the generic Fruity Pebbles in under 2 weeks. Maybe he’s sympathy eating for two? Who am I kidding, he loves sweets more than I do most of the time, he’s worse than a hormonal woman.

Symptoms: Okay, so when I complain about the heartburn, let me put it into context. This isn’t just the normal heartburn or acid reflux, which I got even before being pregnant, this is like the world’s worst heartburn. I’m talking incapacitating, burning from your gut to your throat, that stops you dead in your tracks and you can’t concentrate heartburn. Thank God for Tums, I should’ve bought stock in them before getting pregnant. It got so bad when we were camping the weekend before last, I thought I was going to throw up, but luckily I didn’t. Speaking of which, I had another bought of throwing up over the weekend. It’s mostly my fault though, it seems whenever I don’t get quite enough sleep, it spells bad news for my digestive tract the next day. I’ll be exhausted and worn out and end up getting sick at some point during the day.

What I’m looking forward to: Seeing the peanut again at 28 weeks!! Hopefully the Dr. will have more concrete answers for us, as far as gender, at that point. Although I know you never truly know for certain until the baby is actually born.

August 13, 2012 - 2:36 pm

Kristen - I love these updates, you look gorgeous!!

First Looks – my personal and professional opinion

I want to talk about the concept of a First Look and how near and dear it is to my heart. For those of you who don’t know what a First Look is, in short it’s when a bride and groom choose to see each other before the wedding ceremony and have the opportunity to share a few intimate moments together, before the hustle and bustle of the day ensues.

When I was planning my own wedding, I instantly knew I wanted to have a First Look. After getting engaged, I spent most of my down time at work scowering the internet for wedding planning details. Being the self-professed photography nut that I am, I also spend hours searching the web for new photographer’s blogs I haven’t read yet, technical tips and tricks, and just any photography info I can get my hands on.

When I came across the idea of a First Look, I knew I had to have one, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Of course when I told our wedding photographer I wanted one and that I wanted to devote at least 2-3 hours to photos before the wedding ceremony, she was thrilled. She knew how important the photography was to me. In fact, I wasn’t shy to tell anyone who would listen that the single most important thing on our wedding day (besides of course marrying my best friend and starting our journey as husband and wife) was the photography. When we first got engaged, J and I had a very open and honest conversation about what was most important to us about our wedding day. His answer was having his family there and mine was the photography. Plain and simple.

Now, some people may think that having a First Look breaks tradition or that it might take away the magic of the bride walking down the aisle and her groom seeing her for the first time. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be any further from the truth. J is very traditional, he was adamant that he did NOT want to see my dress before the wedding. At first I thought it was a little old fashioned and silly, but I’m definitely glad we waited for him to see it, it added to the magic of the day.

When I originally mentioned the idea of having a First Look to him, I thought he’d be against it, seeing how traditional he can be. To my surprise, once I explained that a) it would give us that much more time to capture really fun and creative photos b) it would give us more time to spend with our friends and family right after the ceremony, instead of rushing off to take photos, while all of our guests not-so-patientlywaited for us and c) we’d have our own little intimate moment to ourselves before we were consumed with all of the details of the wedding day and attending to our guests.

I can tell you that if you’re a future bride, debating having a First Look for your own wedding and thinking that your husband seeing you before walking down the aisle will make it feel any less magical…it won’t, trust me on this. I was completely calm and relaxed the entire morning, I was surprised actually that I wasn’t nervous at all, but just about 15 minutes before it was time for our First Look, I got the biggest butterflies in my stomach and was completely giddy, like a little kid. The First Look was incredibly special for both of us and without it, we wouldn’t have these amazing photos of our private, intimate moment.

When I tapped Justin on his shoulder and turned him around, all he kept saying was, “Wow…wow….WOW!!!” He couldn’t get anything else out, he was speechless and I even saw him tear up a little. I was all smiles, my face actually hurt from smiling so big. This is, hands down, my favorite image from our First Look. The expression on my face completely conveys how I felt at that moment: giddy and beside myself.

Then it was off to take a few fun photos around Seward (the town where we got married).

After we ran around town, to all sorts of fun locations, it was time to head back to the venue so the ceremony could begin. J went off to join our guests where the ceremony was to take place and I ran back to our room to have my hair and makeup touched up (it was drizzling rain all morning long, so my hair needed some major help after all of that running around). I remember thinking to myself that the ceremony was going to be no big deal, seeing J for the First Look was so fun and exciting and now it was time for the formal ceremony and joining all of our guests. To my surprise, as they were finishing touching up my hair and makeup, I started to get MAJOR butterflies again. I’m talking butterflies doing acrobatics in my stomach and having to take deep breaths to calm myself down.

I honestly didn’t expect to be that nervous/excited about walking down the aisle. When we finally reached the starting part of where I’d begin walking down the aisle, I nearly lost it. I was so overwhelmed with joy, happiness, excitement, and every other amazing feeling you can think of, I didn’t know what to do with myself. J was there with me, since he was getting ready to walk his grandma down the aisle to her seat, and I don’t think he had any idea how twitterpated I was. I remember looking at his mom (who was waiting with me to walk me down the aisle) and she just smiled and said, “Are you ready honey??” I could barely catch my breath enough to say, “I think so…”

Cue the thumping heart beat, short of breath, mind racing walk I had down the aisle. Thank God Justin’s mom was there to hold my arm and steady me. I was so beside myself with happiness and pure bliss that I was oblivious to anything else around me. It literally felt as if Justin and I were the only two people in the universe at that moment and nothing else in the world mattered.

I’m here to tell you that no matter if you see your husband for a First Look before the ceremony or if you choose to wait to see each other until you walk down the aisle, it will be equally as magical. There is nothing and no one that can take that away from either of you.

As a photographer, I absolutely love it when couples choose to have a First Look. The wedding day can get a little hectic at times and a First Look not only gives the bride and groom a private moment just to themselves, but it also gives ample time to capture some pretty amazing images. Some of the truest emotions I’ve witnesses from couples, have come from First Looks.

Just take a look at one of my absolute favorite examples of how truly special a First Look can be; Kyle’s honest reaction to seeing Kari for the first time even had me fighting back the tears.

Kari and Kyle were able to spend these few cherished moments together before the ceremony and as a result, had more than enough time to enjoy the company of their family and friends during the ceremony and reception.

August 10, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Rhonda - I think you captured the idea of this very well. It’s convincing! 😀

August 21, 2012 - 4:23 pm

jessi cortez - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of first looks! I’m so glad you blogged about it Kristin, and I never get tired of looking at you guys’ pictures 😉

May 24, 2013 - 10:16 pm

fotoclipping - Love the simple elegance of these beautiful warm light. It’s really amazing. Outstanding photography.Best wishes for this couple…….

20 weeks – gender announcement, fruity cocktails, and duck hunting

**This post is a little late, I had it drafted and never had time to finish it last week. But better late than never right?**

So I’m going to just be honest here, I thought about sugar coating things and making them seem all cheery and a-ok, but that just wouldn’t be me. I pride myself in honesty and expect it from others. The gender ultrasound was somewhat of a disappointment. Not because of the results, but because it just seems so unclear and the Dr. kept saying she “thinks” it’s a girl. At the end of the appointment I asked her point blank, “How accurate is this and can we start telling people it’s a girl or should we hold off?” Her response was that she’s 85% sure, but she wants to do a repeat ultrasound at 28 weeks (2 freakin’ months from now!!) to make sure. She said that sometimes the penis and scrotum (yes I totally just used the anatomically correct verbiage there) can be tucked up underneath and hiding from view, but that she’s pretty sure it’s a girl.

I guess maybe J and I were looking for more of a, “IT’S A _____!! 100% IT’S A ______!!” either way, whether a boy or a girl. We both left there feeling a little confused and J turned to me and said, “Well I wouldn’t start going crazy buying anything just yet. Maybe wait until 28 weeks and see what she says then.” Which I’m fine with because there’s nothing we need to buy at this point anyway. I wasn’t planning to go out and go buck wild buying all sorts of pink or blue things, besides I’m not really into pink, so I doubt I’ll ever dress our daughter in head to toe pink, just not my thing.

Soooo…if it IS indeed a girl, meet Miss Scarlett. Her cute little face, hands, and feet are in the top ultrasound and what the Dr. “thinks” are her “girly parts” in the bottom one.

While I’m being honest, I’m having some mixed feelings about the entire thing and I’m trying to sort it all out. I can’t decide if I’m bummed because I thought it was going to be a boy and I’m wrong (Lord knows we all hate when we’re wrong) or if it’s because I really wanted it to be a boy. Maybe a little bit of both? It’s funny because this entire time I’ve thought it was a boy, but in every dream I’ve had about the baby, it’s been a girl. Maybe my subconscious was trying to tell me something?

Don’t get me wrong, we’re more than happy either way, so long as it’s healthy. I guess I was just expecting the Dr. to say, “Its a boy!!” or to be able to see his “boy parts” on the screen and when she didn’t, I was left a little perplexed. What’s funny is a few years back (when we still lived in CA) we actually thought we were pregnant, but it turned out to be an ovarian cyst. After all of the excitement and ultimately the let down, we ended up having a lot of discussions about having kids. At the time I wanted a girl SOOOO badly. I think because I helped raise my nephew for the first 4-5 years of his life, I felt like I’d already done the “boy thing”. But actually being pregnant now, all of my feelings were completely different.

I’m starting to warm up to the idea of a girl more and more now though. I was even doodling her name, trying to embrace the idea of a girl.

I actually expected J to be a lot more disappointed than he is, since he was so adamant it was going to be a boy. I think I’m struggling with the idea of a girl more than he is. He was so sweet, after our ultrasound when I asked him if he was bummed, he said, “Why would I be bummed? It’s still a beautiful child, our beautiful child.” Reason # 4,892 why I love him. Of course he followed it up with, “Now from ages 12-18, my life will be a living hell and I’ll barely sleep.” 🙂 He’s such a protective dad already.

How Far Along: 20 weeks

Size of baby: 6 1/2 inches, 10 1/2 ounces, the size of a small cantaloupe.

Total Weight Gain: 4 lbs, not too shabby so far.

Maternity Clothes: Nothing much new so far. I still need to find some gray work pants, I’ve just been rocking my black ones so far and it’s getting a little old.

Gender: 85% it’s a girl, we’ll *hopefully* confirm it in 2 months.

Movement: The peanut is still dancing all around. I can’t wait until J can feel it from the outside. Right now I get so excited telling him that it’s moving and he just looks at me like, “Yea? And?”

Sleep: Good Lord, apparently I just can’t get enough sleep lately. The weekend before last, on Sunday I slept until 8:30am, then 1/2 way through the day I fell asleep on the couch for 4 hours or so, and then when J got home from dipnetting around 6 or 7, I fell asleep for an hour or so with him!! I even fell asleep on the couch Monday night when I was waiting for him to get home from work. I’ve noticed that it’s getting more uncomfortable for me as time goes on. Monday night when we were laying on the couch, I just couldn’t get comfortable and I wanted to lay on my stomach so bad!! I got so frustrated that I couldn’t get comfortable, I’m sure this is only thebeginning.

What I miss: Yummy, fruity cocktails. We went to Red Robin when we were in Anchorage and whenever I saw all of the colorful, festive, fruity cocktails walking past I got a little sad. I’m not a big drinker by any means, but they just looked so good. Maybe it’s only because I know I can’t have them.

Cravings: I had the most intense craving for raviolis the weekend before last. I actually thought about calling and having them delivered. When I finally got them for lunch on Monday, it was sort of a let down, they weren’t what I wanted at all. I’ve been bad about that lately, everything I eat or munch on isn’t what I want and then I’m on to the next thing, it’s so frustrating.

Symptoms: Still rocking the constant heartburn. The newest symptom I had last week was round ligament pains. For those of you who have never been pregnant, the round ligaments surround your uterus and as the uterus is growing and shifting (particularly in the second trimester) it can bring on sharp pains or jabbing feelings in your groin area. This is a new development over the last few days. When I roll over on the couch or in bed or even when I brought my knee up to my chest to put my socks on yesterday morning. They’re not unbearable or super painful, they just come out of nowhere, surprise you, and take your breath away. I’ve noticed if I get up off the couch or out of the car too quickly I get them too.

What I’m looking forward to: It’s almost time to start silver fishing again, which I’m definitely looking forward to. I didn’t do much red fishing this year, but I’m ready for silvers to start. I’m also looking forward to the fall and duck hunting season. I’m not sure how many times I’ll be able to go out duck hunting since we go out so early in the morning (we get up at about 2:00 or 3:00am), unless I make a huge effort to be in bed early the night before. I just can’t run on little to no sleep anymore. Before being pregnant, I could go out fishing with J and not get home until 1:00am, then get back up for work at 6:30am. Of course I’d be a little tired at work all day, but nothing like I am now. The two times I tried to do it this year, I felt like death the next day. One of the days I even ended up getting sick at work, no fun at all. I know if I don’t go duck hunting I’ll miss it like crazy though. I’ve already had the itch to go trap shooting since early Spring.