SEEN // Mette Harrison


I first met Mette Harrison in Colorado City. I held a camera and Mette carried plants, lumber, and tools around the gardens we were rebuilding in Short Creek for our annual Fern Foundation service project. I was drawn in by her magnetic, truthful strength. My admiration for strong women comes immediate.

Over the years I have gotten to know Mette better through her writing and other small interactions mostly in the web. Mette carries the blessing and burden of a richly poetic voice that sings her blunt tellings into the soul center. Her latest work includes an experiment in poetry and her podcast that provides a deep examination of her Mormon upbringing ( Check our Mette’s Mormon Sabbatical podcast HERE).

Mette is currently working on a book about her stillborn daughter Mercy and the wounds of losing a child. It would be impossible to sum Mette up neither by calling her a loving and supportive mother, an accomplished artist and teacher, a connected friend, artist, or triathlete, these are parts of a fantastically expansive whole.

Mette has always had friends and family take her professional headshots. So kind, very supportive, and “good enough”. We find that good enough is good enough until it isn’t. When Mette showed up for an author signing for her novel, The Bishop’s Wife, she wasn’t recognized as herself and its not hard to see why- the woman in the photo looks nothing like Mette. That’s a problem- without the context of authentic, honest portraits, we just learn to hate what photography does to us. Made-over, air-brushed images may serve something but what? The truth? Sure, if the standard of that truth means societal prescriptions regarding portraiture that aim to eclipse and edit the truth of self.

Last week Mette, and the By Common Consent Press family, visited Ultraviolet Studios for a book signing and reading. Before we took our seats Mette told me that before our portrait session she was certain that she hated portrait sessions but that I helped turn that on its head by letting her be her. I asked Mette if she, always and ever the writer, would share her thoughts with me in writing so that I could share them here. Within moments, she sent me this-

I used to think I hated photos of myself. I have a terrible habit of hiding from my FIL’s constant photos of the big family. I’m short, so I tuck behind someone else and you only see an elbow or my chin. I stare at photos of myself and always think—that isn’t me. It’s even more true when I look at almost all of the professional photos I’ve had done. There’s a profound disconnect between the image that’s captured on film and who I feel like I am inside. Sometimes it happens when I look in the mirror, as well. But then Ashley did these series of photos of me and almost every one felt “right” in some way. They captured different expressions, different sides of me. I sent a set of them to my FIL, and his response was (of course—I should have guessed this), “I like the ones where you’re smiling.”

I deliberately told Ashley when we started that I wanted a professional author photo with me not smiling because I often see women authors with unsmiling photos and think how strong they look—I wanted to be brave enough to try to do that. I’ve titled the photo I’m currently using as my publicity author photo the “Don’t Fuck With Me” shot because I feel so strong in it. I feel like this is the me I wanted to show to the world and needed someone who understood to help me capture it. It’s not that I look angry. But I look fierce. I look strong. I look like the athlete that I am, with the strong arms that help me swim and beat lots of tough guys in a race. I look like someone people don’t say “Smile more” to.

When I look at the other photos I’ve had taken, some of which people told me to my face “That doesn’t look like you” because I was wearing heavy makeup and dressed in a way I never do in real life, I realize what the problem is. Those photographers were often trying to get me to look “good,” or “beautiful” and they were using a standard of female beauty that has never fit me well. When they tell me to bring makeup to put on between shots, I have to explain I don’t wear makeup and don’t want to wear it for a shoot, which I think sounds strange to them. Why don’t I want to have a photo that makes me look better than I would in real life? Because that’s not me. I don’t want to look like a model. I don’t want my boobs to look bigger. I don’t buy bras like that. Surprise! I want to look like who I really am. I want a photo that matches my soul.

A dear old friend of mine from grad school spent a long time perusing each of the photos Ashley had sent me. She chose the same one that Ashley had picked as her favorite and she kept saying, “You look beautiful in this.” I didn’t think I looked “beautiful” at all. I looked sad and contemplative. I looked broken. It was hard to see beauty in that, but maybe what my friend meant, and what Ashley was able to capture was realness, the authentic me that other photographers were always trying to “photoshop out.” I still remember Ashley saying if I wanted, she could erase a red blemish on my nose. I laughed when she suggested that because the red blemish on my nose was the least of my worries about the photos that came about as a result of that shoot. I wasn’t worried about people seeing that tiny flaw. I was worried about people seeing ALL of the flaws that those photos showed. I was supremely naked in those shots, which is really what I keep telling people about writing. If you’re not naked, you haven’t worked down to the truth yet. Ashley’s photos are art because they are truth.

Thank you Mette for sharing your thoughts about you and photos. For allowing me the pleasure of photographing such a strong, determined, soulful woman. Let’s do it again.

SHARED // "From Afraid of Risk to Fearless and Free" D'Arcy's Play it Brave Podcast

Ashley Thalman- Play it Brave podcast

Wow. I knew when I was speaking, looking into the encouraging, space-making eyes of my friend D’Arcy, that I wanted to go deep, share truthfully, and allow my creativity a new space to be shared and seen. When we finished I felt light, heard, supported, and my body buzzed with a joyful intuitive high. I knew we did something amazing together and I felt and feel ever more today, deep gratitude for D’Arcy.

I am happy to share this with you and I would love to hear your comments and feedback on the topics D’Arcy and I explored together. Ready? Listen HERE

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SEEN // What is Seen?


Seen is a collaborative photographic experience, exclusively for women, that documents and explores self-love, healing, and living. Being seen begins with seeing ourselves. By owning, coaxing, and curating our own wild, confident, and unsure parts of self, we create a belonging home within. Seen is a celebration of your self-love practice, your healing, and your life as the worthy being you are.

If you are interested in documenting your growth transitions, “Seen” is a photographic experience that promises to support you and show you, sincerely.

I recently received a testimonial from my client, Andrea that embodies and reflects the experience of Seen-

I cannot believe how uninhibited I felt shooting with Ashley. I have SO MANY issues with how I see myself and my appearance in real life AND in photos and I honestly gave two shits during the shoot. Those concerns that feel like bricks were not even present. I had COMPLETE trust that whatever we were going to create together, I would love. Ashley also created an EXPERIENCE that provided absolute specific intention and purpose for the shoot. This was not about taking "cute photos where I hopefully look thin to myself and others," NO, not one single ounce of that. This was about something so much more, about documenting motherhood, womanhood, and the human details of my life at this very moment with two heaping scoops of my unique style & personality - none of which is actually tangible and CAN ONLY be presented / captured by artists alike because it is ALL a matter of interpretation. It is not even about the physical things I wore during the shoot even though I love them, they were vehicles of sorts - this was about all the feelings, emotions, and energy I described above directly associated to the true intention of the shoot.- Andrea Updike

Seen Sessions begin with an in-depth questionnaire composed of a simple prompts to assist you in documenting you, as you. Taking the time to creatively declare truths about who and where you are is a self-made initiation into Seen. Plan 20-30 minutes to complete this questinonaire

After deciding on a fitting location we will meet for your 2-3 hour session. We will capture the light bringing celebrations and the shadowy soreness of living. With the help of simple scenes, and natural elements of fire, water, air, light, and earth we explore both light and dark, death and rebirth, chances, reinventions, battles, softness and strength to create powerful, simple fine-art portraits.

Seen Sessions are $650 and include a private 2.5-3 hour session, your choice of 2 high resolution files, a $50 print credit, and all low resolution files from our session together. Travel outside Weber County will incur additional travel and possibly accommodation fees.

Fine art archival investments of $450 or more include all high-resolution images (80+ images) to archive and print as you wish.

Sessions may take place in your home, in a studio, or in an outdoor location.

Clients should budget between $700-$1000 for the entire experience from the sitting to fine art preservation in albums, collections, prints, and gifts. All print orders include web-ready files for sharing whereas all purchases over $300 include the high resolution files.

Please shoot me a text (801)319-7114 or email to be Seen.

THOUGHTS // Sight and the Soul


Advanced pterygia spread across the delicate whites of my eyes. They grew slowly and I had grown used to them. Non cancerous nuisances. Late at night or after a day in the sun I lived with one eye shut at a time, eye drops in my bag, red eyes always.

The surgeon removed the growths, applied a chemical wash to burn off any stubborn remains, and then patched my eyes with amniotic stem cells . Life cells, mother-made, stitched into place.

I needed 24 hour care. I doubted it when I planned for it, but when I woke, stitched and disoriented, I was unable to use my eyes except in pained blinks. I needed help and I knew it.

My friends and family made my home a sanctuary of showing up, reading, music, bathing, food and laughter. I couldn’t see so I pulled them close. I smelled them. I touched my children, I held them. I held my friends, they held me. The people I loved confessed things to me, I broke open, they worried over me, they cared. I touched the hands of their husbands and their kids. I ate, dressed, and slept with a blindfold. I moved slowly, fondling my way through my home, and around my bed for ice.

I thought I would be “back” after a long weekend but that wasn't so. I lay healing, laughing, sobbing, and silent for two weeks. The timing was everything. I was in the early stages of my divorce. I was having a moment and my body held me still enough to heal. Plans were made, schedules adjusted, my people rallied around.

Years of guilt leave their mark. I had always thought things would get better. I thought I would be better, follow the script, ignore, forgive, try, and repent. I worked my way through my mess with therapy, change, prayer, screaming, hiding, Barbie, perfectionism, cleanliness and godliness. I thought having kids would change things. I killed us with kindness and nicety. I struggled. I lied to myself. I didn’t want to see, so I shadowed my knowing body and it listened, enlisted cells to multiply over my eyes. To cover me. Atrophy, blindness. The body listens.

This is not a metaphor and neither is my story. It’s a truth hard told. The body and spirit are the soul of woman. The body is a form of sinew and genealogy. The memory of triumph and trauma are written on spirit and body. The soul animates the form.

We are what we eat, we digest what we see, we hear who we are, we taste the flavors of the land, we feel our relationship to animal, flower, and flesh. We are carried by a network of ancestral memory, organized systems, and instincts that cope and fail and fling us against our blindness hoping to shake us new. The body speaks.

In the state of dis-ease we need ceremony, community, and procedure to let go. We need to learn something new. I never knew mother love or holy home until I got my “new eyes”. I didn’t know my body before, the flow of sensed energy, or our reliance of sister supporting sister. I didn’t know that water in my deep tub, taken in through sore-sighted peeks, could speak calm blue. I didn’t know that behind my closed eyes was a world that grounded me and that within a terrifying dark is support and sight. But I know now. I see it.



When my clients first contact me to book a session, I begin our process with an intake form. The form invites them to open, to pause, to get creative and declarative about who and where they are right now. By prompting introspection and intention we are able to connect and build a relationship of trust and collaboration. 
One of the first prompts is, “I want to document this time in my life as a woman because...” Each answer is beautiful and whole. Here is Lacey’s, shared with her permission and encouragement.

”A photo is a moment captured.

I’m having a moment.

A moment of immense vulnerability coupled with strength. A moment of stepping outside of my role as being the supporter and allowing myself to be supported. A moment of no more hiding or making myself small. A moment of resounding trust in my own intuition. A moment of grounding and standing firmly in my integrity. A moment of letting all of the colorful parts of my heart to be seen. A moment of healed pain turning into wisdom. A moment of hearing the call, securely tucking my children under my arms and taking the steps to return back to myself. A moment of complete clarity. A moment of fear being challenged by unconditional love. A moment of an old life being put to rest as I begin to sleep next to acceptance. A moment of rising and rebirth. A moment of becoming expansive in every way, taking up space in the world. A moment of doing the hardest thing I have ever had to do... to let my loved ones witness all of me and support me. 
I can’t think of a more important moment in time to capture... a woman standing in her power and vulnerability.

This is strength.

This is growth.

This is love. It’s beautiful and scary as hell but I am learning as I move forward that there is so much unconditional love ready to greet me the more I allow myself to be seen.”

I have 4 appointments for June, 5 in July, and 6 for August available. Is this for you? Send me a direct message for details.

THOUGHTS // Expansion & Boundaries


Today I sent a direct, boundary making text that terrified me. I was scared to do it, I sobbed, I hit send. I made space for it, I celebrated my bravery, I forgave myself for not doing it earlier. I wanted to run and ignore it (a chronic habit) but I sat in it.

For a long, long time I held back, silenced. So I took some time today mourning my old niceties, my old seventy-times-seven cheek turning sacrifices of sanity.

Having spent the majority of my life “killing with kindness” I can say with reasonable certainty that this method is just an inherited recipe for feeling like shit. Whose being killed with kindness here? Who is killing?

You know that story about the mother that passes down the recipe that calls for the ends of the roast to be cut off before being cooked? The daughter asks “why” and no one knows, do they? Well Grandma does. She’s so matter-of-fact, “We cut the ends so it would fit in the pot!” Kill them with kindness is like that. It is a means of survival, a utility in times of lack and scraps. We’ve got bigger containers now. We do not need to trim ourselves to find grace and pride.

We can speak with fire.

The new recipe for power and growth and dealing with challenge is getting really fucking okay with what we are. It means refusing to act the part of what we think we are supposed to be. It means saying “no”. It means admitting that you stumbled out of your marriage after it almost killed off the best parts of you, and that being okay with that means that you are healing.

Healing doesn’t come in making a home for every stray energy that comes. Abuse won’t be killed with kindness. Boundaries are not made through excuses and blame and spiritual bypassing.

Belonging and boundaries are not found in palatable “nice”. Belonging is found on a limb brothers and sisters.

Splaying ourselves holy and perfect via kind killing is a trap laid to keep us small. It’s a habitual horror that checks a box of phony tiny drowning quiet. And you and I deserve more than that.

THOUGHTS // I Know How You Feel


I know how you feel. When you’re photographed by another woman who shares love for and with you, when she is grounded with experience and can support worries and insecurities- it shifts something.

Self love looks different for everyone. Here’s what it looks like to me in this moment: women, a shade of rust, rocks, sage in desert landscapes, my partner at home with the kids and dinner sending encouragements, doing something nice for myself even when I have lots of reasons not to, leaping into the unknown ultraviolet risk. It means receiving for myself, what I love to give others.

Thank you Lindsay for your eye and talent.

And yes, this suit is silk and yes, it’s been in my closet for two years waiting for me to step into it. And yes, it’s the most gorgeous thing ever, cost too much at a time I was walking a penny line and yes, I made the right choice.


Love is immeasurable. Though we’ve probably kissed a million times, and our word count is Brittanica in volume our love is yet building.

Where is love stored? Where did our love begin? Is it karmic? Is it healing the unseen inside? Does it transform our cells with the comforts of belonging, and the tremors of taking a chance?

Is there a dimension where acts of kindness and passion create something only the soul would recognize? What is that feeling of recognition?

The shedding, stepping in, claiming, healing, letting go, trusting, sobbing, laugh-crying love is only so good as we let it be. And the forever invitation is to let it be everything.

These portraits were taken on a spontaneous vacation to Kanab, Utah. Thank you for being my traveling companion and artistic match and best friend.


Ashley Thalman

Every day I ask myself some form of this question: “Do I want to live the safe version or the self love version?” When I hear the voices, as energy come through me I ask, “Is that my fear or my intuition?” When I choose safe/fear it helps me fit in real nice with scripts and prescriptions. When I chose self-love/intuition I go beneath the mess, above the ego and I remember that this life I’m living is energetic and that not knowing invites creativity and expression.

I’m inhabiting a never before and never again form and that makes me worthy of risk and worth of belonging.

Self love comes from honoring and exploring what we’ve always been keeping under wraps. Do I want to continue carrying the constipated consequences of what I haven’t had the guts to face or do I want to explore and learn by being the real and entire me?

This portrait was created by the endlessly talented Lindsay Stewart.

THOUGHTS // Bio Before, Bio After

All through March I watched D’Arcy Benincosa’s site reviews. Each review was so sharp, each one exposed the fact that so often we are not willing to go deep and actually distill what it is we offer as photographers. While D’Arcy and I do not share the same professional aims, but we share the need to do what we do, and to do it well. Each review revealed something new and true that I wanted to implement. I need my site visitors to clearly know what I do and why I do it.

Inspiration is found in the doing, the work begets the work and the answers to what we are working on. On April 20th and 21st I hosted a portrait event at Ultraviolet Studios. I photographed 6 women just as I always wanted, just as they deserved. I photographed them with the care and intention that I want to be seen and loved with, that I am so often and luck to be loved like. Matthew and I painted backdrops, I purchased pretty fabrics, a little stool, I rented a new fancy-ass camera and I invited them in. I spread food, I saged, I set intentions, I surveyed myself and my clients, I cleaned, I played music and I welcomed them in.

Throughout the process of preparing, planning, executing, editing, and sharing my results I found what I was looking for. I saw my work reflected to me in the most honest and heart-centered conditions.

When I’m with a client, I want them to feel good. I want the experience to be memorable. That means I have to prepare them for what I do, and what I don’t. I will support them, affirm them, straighten them and see them but I am not going to photoshop them to plastic. That alone means that I exclude a large population of clients who need photos and that defines success. What we don’t and won’t and can’t do is just as important as what we do and can do.

I dread being for everyone but I fear being for no one. That’s some real shit. I hate the idea that what I want to share isn’t going to be received, or that it can’t find its audience and that’s why it’s critical to show who we really are as artists. We need to practice the siren call to summon the ones who want what we have to share.

I liked how succinct my previous bio was. It reminded me of well, everyone else. It was on par. But I’m explorative, not succinct and take it or leave it I want clients to be prepared. My newest bio signals what I offer and I’m so relieved that I found the words and attitude and encouragements I needed to write it.

For posterity I've saved the before-


For more than a decade Ashley Thalman has worked behind the lens in collaboration with both commercial clients and family clients to create timeless, truthful images.

Naturally comfortable and confident, Ashley is also an informative and careful professional, whose fun-loving and flexible humor enable her to preserve the stories of your family, home-space and relationships so you can treasure the image heirlooms for years to come.

Please email or call with feedback, questions, project ideas, or collaborative partnership inquiries.


“Ashley will find your soul. Her images are stunning because she creates space for vulnerability, and photographs you as you are. This is not for everyone, but it should be. You will not be void of wrinkles or cellulite or rolls, but you will recognize that they are part of you and that you should love who you are, where you are.”- Errin Julkunen-Pedersen

I see you, for you. By providing a portrait experience that values the candid over the contrived, connection over concoction I create images that document and celebrate the truth. I am not interested in creating photos that use you as a prop with dispensable parts. I will not betray you like that.

With more than 10 years of professional experience I have learned to co-create comfortable, empowering, and permissive environments fo, and with my clients. This collaborative approach sets my clients at ease inviting me to document their lives and the lives of those they love most, as they are.

Whether our session takes place in your home surrounded by family, in a wide desert that calls you home, or in my studio filled with your favorite music and foods I promise an experience that honors the entire and perfect you.

I make my home in Ogden, Utah with my greatest inspirations; my partner Matthew and our four kids. In 2019 my Matthew and I opened Ultraviolet Studios, a production and event studio space. I prefer my food clean, my art unsettling, my travel with cactus, and my weekends filled family, friends, nature, and rest.