A Place in this World |Elkhart Senior Photography



Do not follow where the path may lead. 

 Go, instead, where there is  no path and leave a trail.

{Ralph Waldo Emerson}


What a perfect Sunday it was for this photoshoot.  I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful and sweet Senior to photograph. 

I just love mixing old with new. I love decorating this way as well. In fashion, I also love to experiment with this look.  I used to do this quite a bit—- mixing old and new into my fashion—-well that was way back in the days when I was in college and when I was out working in the fashion retail world after I graduated.  Yes, that seemed so long, long ago…  Over the years as I was busy raising my kids, any fashion interests somehow got pushed way down the priority list along with many other things.   

Perhaps my sense of fashion is not where it needs to be at the present,  but I can definitely entertain the idea of incorporating a little bit of fashion flair into photography. Just how I love decorating with vintage-inspired pieces,  this session inspired me to bring this piece into my image crafting. Since I am eclectic and I never can do everything with the same look, I also played around with the colors in some of these urban-inspired backgrounds. Thanks “E” for allowing me to capture your special day and your great fashion style and personality inspired me to have fun and add a twist of flair into processing your pictures.  Enjoy your senior year!

 Below are some of my fav pics from session:


From this Moment…|Elkhart Family Photographer


“We make a living by what we get, but we make a LIFE by what we GIVE.”

 —-Winston Churchill


The 3 elements of Time, Talent and Treasure all weaved together beautifully Thursday night at the Women’s Care Center Benchmarks annual Auction held at Elcona Country Club.  

From the artists who created so many beautiful art pieces, to the volunteers who put in so much time behind the scene, to the guests who came and generously donated their money—–there was so much giving and selfless acts that evening.   

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a dear friend of mine to capture “A Day in the Life” at the Women’s Care Center to be used during the evening of the Auction and to exactly show what happened at the Center on a daily basis.

My husband and I always supported the Center, but to be honest with you, I have never been to the Center to fully understand all that went on behind it.  

It was truly a great experience for me and I learned so much  in the 2 days that I spent there.

I had the pleasure of meeting the incredible volunteers who work there.  Because they do this truly from their heart, I felt a great sense of love the moment  I walked into the Center.

I also had the privilege of meeting the clients who came to the Center to use the services.    Did you know that 1 out of 4 women in Elkhart County use the Women’s Care Center?

At the beginning, I wasn’t so sure how the clients would receive me being there photographing them.  I wanted to be very respectful of their privacy so I made sure that they knew what I was doing and was okay with the idea. 

I was  pleasantly surprised by the warm embrace I received. They allowed me to follow them through the process and allowed me to capture their most private and precious moments. 

One of the most touching moments was being in the same room capturing the preciousness of Life.  It was priceless to capture that very moment of the mom seeing her baby for the first time on  the ultrasounds screen. I saw so much love and joy that very moment. It left me speechless. 

I also had the privilege of following one mom into a counseling session as she shared her story to a counselor. I witnessed a counselor who listened and cared for this client.

I also met clients who took the Parenting classes to clients who use the incentive-based BABE store to redeem their coupons for diapers, clothes and baby foods.  

I met and  played with little children as they sat in the waiting room.  I was able to capture these beautiful children and saw the beauty of life from all different aspects. 

This was truly was one of highlights of my photography journey.  I feel truly blessed to be apart of this wonderful experience and to have this opportunity to capture all aspects of life. 

The theme of the Benchmarks Auction  was: LIFE, HOPE, LOVE, AND FAITH.

WCC represents all of these. 

Make sure you have your sound turned up and on and click below to view  video that I would like to share with you:

The Women’s Care Center.

Below are some of my favorite pictures.

You are Loved: A Tribute|Goshen Family photographer



I don’t think I ever realized how this journey into photography has touched my life and has helped me grow in so many ways.

Never could I ever imagined the wealth of joy and all the lessons that it has taught me since I started this journey.

When I was asked over a month ago to photograph the Pekarek Adventure Course (PAC) , I was so touched by the request.  It came from the Pekarek family and it also came from my dear college friend.

11 years ago, my friend’s late husband, died in a plane crash.  A year later, the Pekarek Adventure Challenge Course(PAC) was built in memory of Joseph R. Pekarek dedicated by my friend’s family.

“This gift was in memory of a devoted husband, father, brother and son-in-law and was meant to celebrate Pekarek’s dedication to young people and his love for outdoor activity. The PAC course has become an important therapeutic recreation tool for all of the programs at Bashor Children’s Home and was designed to be shared with churches, youth groups, schools, businesses and civic organizations.”  “It’s a place that help for troubled children and their families through residential care, day treatment/ alternative education, foster care, and many other services”.

Photographing this event of the family doing the PAC was very special to me.  It was more than just a photoshoot. It held special place in my heart because I also knew Joe.  He was also a dear friend of mine, we went to college together and all hung out together.

Even at a young college age, Joe always possessed a strong presence when you were with him.  You could feel his positive and motivating energy.  Joe always had a strong sense of  purpose and Faith  as well. 

The PAC built in his honor well represented how Joe truly was as a person.  Joe had a love for sports and always helped and motivated others around him.  To me, the PAC represented 3 things:  

Believe in Yourself. Do not Give Up.  You are Loved. 

This particular session helped me grow in so many ways. First of all, this type of photography was different than anything that I was used to.  I had to go outside my comfort zone to shoot this type of session where I had no control over lighting  and the situation.  I had to learn in a very short amount of time how to use the new equipments/lenses I needed to use for this kind of photography. The days leading up to the event, I made several trips to the  PAC to meet with the facilitators and to see what the course was like so that I knew what to expect. 

One of the elements in the PAC was a high rope course and I wanted to practice shooting part of the course from above. Yes, 25-30 feet off the ground.  The facilators were setting up the course and invited me to come do a practice run to make sure I was comfortable being at that height on the day of the event. 

To tell you the truth, as I was driving to the course for this trial run, I was super nervous and telling myself that I was crazy.  What was I thinking shooting from 25 feet of the ground being suspended in the air.  So when I approached the course, I tried to overcome this fear and told the facilators that I was ready to go through this trial run.  As I was climbing, I remembered thinking how on earth was I going to overcome this height of fear while up there shooting with all these camera equipments?

Something beautiful happened as I approached the top.  This amazing peaceful feeling took over as I stood up there and looked down.  As I was suspended high, I realized that sometimes  fear is our biggest obstacle.  Once we let go of that, once we believe in ourselves, the best reward is there waiting for us on top.  This incredible feeling—-this incredible joy—-we get—- knowing that we can achieve anything that we set our mind to it

Believe in Yourself.  Do not Give Up. You are loved.

These are the messages that I know Joe would’ve wanted everyone to know.

Believe in yourself.  Let go of our fears.  Trust in ourself that we can do it.  The power of our mind is truly unbelievable. 

Don’t give up.  We experience true joy and our true potential when we get out of our comfort zone.  The true reward is there waiting for us.  We just have to “keep on keeping on.”

You are loved.  Joe would’ve wanted everyone to feel the love.  Each one of us, no matter where we are in life, we all want to feel loved.  When we do things for others and become selfless we can feel this love.  Helping one another and working together, is where we can generate this love for ourselves.  This helps us grow.  The love lies here when we become selfless.



*I captured this as his mom was the first one  courageously climbed to the top of one of the high elements.  Do you see a heart up above in the first picture?  And a rainbow surrounding her the second pic? His presence was definitely with them that day!

That day, witnessing how the family worked together and doing the PAC truly was symbolic of the message.  It was truly amazing to capture all that.  Too see the determination and the courage it took for each one of them to do some of these challenging elements, I saw the power of the message and what the PAC represents.  

This will be one of the most memorable sessions ever.  I could feel the love and the spirit of Joe with them that day.  It was such  an honor for me to be a part of this important event .

 Joe, you are loved.  Your spirit still lives on as you continue to touch everyone’s lives with your incredible message.

 In addition to these photos, I’ve provided a session video. Make sure your sound is turned up.



 {By the way, after all that practice run, I did not get a chance to be suspended high in the air.  We did not have time to do the 2nd high element ..maybe next time)







Treasure, Time, Talent


I visited 2 local agencies this week for some upcoming events that I am working on.  What I witnessed this week was the power of our Gifts.

The first stop this week was to photograph “A Day in a Life….” at a center in town.  The mission of this place is “to help young women to choose life for their babies, have healthier, pregnancies, and  ultimately become better parents.”

The second place I visited this week was a place that “provides help for troubled children and their families through residential care, day treatment/ alternative education, foster care, and many other services.”  

First of all, it amazes me in this small town that I live in, the power of the community pulling together to help each other.  This power comes from the Gifts we already have.  


We have these Gifts?  

Yes, out of His great love, God had provided all of us with abundance of gifts. This abundance of gifts has been given to us so that we can be a blessing to others. 


What exactly is that abundance of gifts that we are supposed to have….?

A dear-dear friend of mine stated it perfectly when she summed that we all could help in one of 3 ways.

Treasure, Time or Talent. 

Each component is just as viable as the other.  We can contribute in many different ways.  I think sometimes we are so stuck on the idea that it can only come in one form—-“Treasure”, in other words, money.  In fact it is ONE of the ways, but on its own it can’t survive or able to contribute effectively without the other 2 gifts: Time and Talent.  To me, it is a marriage and it takes all 3 of these components to fully be effective for an agency to truly help those in needs.

The 2 places I visited this week showed that we all can contribute in one of these 3 ways. When the 3 are bundled together –can you imagine what a powerful source that can be for our community?

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,faithfully, administering God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

That sure got me thinking.  Am I truly using the Gift he has given me to serve others, and for His purpose?

Which of the Gift(s) do you think you possess?


Well since I can’t end a Photo Blog without pictures. This definitely fits the topic of Treasure, Time and Talent—-well maybe more in the category of Treasure and Time…Oh yes lots and oh boy they are worth it!!

Here’s a music video of the kids enjoying summer time fun. 

So sit back and enjoy this music video that I put together. Click on blue link below. Make sure your sound is on and up!






It’s Official….


Wow. Hello. It’s me!! I am still here!  I’ve been quite busy in May and June since I last posted.  There are several reasons why and I will explain it all in this blog …I have so much to share with you!

First of all, JoyfulHeart Photography by Uyen is OFFICIAL.  I have recently launched my website.  www.joyfulheartbyuyen.com  If you get a chance,  please check out my website and give me your feedback. Keep checking back for new pictures that I will be updating on my website and blog as well. I have several sessions I haven’t updated yet and will have more scheduled this summer.

Along with launching my website, I have found a professional photo lab company that I just LOVE.  I have done my research on this one and have to tell you that their products and prints are OUTSTANDING.  I am so excited to provide you that level of quality.  Also, you will love their personalized photo jewelry line, their coffee table photo books, Christmas cards and other products that I will be offering.

I. Can’t. Wait. To. Show. You.

Also, after many months of contemplating how I want to present myself as a photographer, and have each session truly from my heart, I am also launching a new type of session for you to choose.  This new option is the “Life+Style Boutique Package” and the session comes with a choice of Coffee Table Photo Book.  It is a very personalized session catering to Your Life. Your Style. I will work closely with you to find your needs and to make sure this session is catered to your family’s life and style so that I can truly capture your personality.  This is perfect for family reunions, graduation open house, baby showers, family/baby portrait sessions, senior portrait sessions, engagement sessions etc… The session can be done at a beach, your backyard, your lake home, your favorite park etc…

It is more than just a posed session, it is a session that captures life and captures the unscripted moments that truly reflect who you are.

I have received such warm responses for this type format and I know you will find it to your liking as well.   

You have invested your time with me and this way it allows me to creatively display my vision of your session into a beautiful Coffee Table Photo Book. Your photographs are something that you will treasure forever! It will truly allow you to have a memory that you can keep and be proud to display and show your friends and families.  I will also have a personal consultation with you to find out your family personality and style.  This way I can cater the session to what you want. Along with our initial consultation, and the on-location photo shoots, I will also meet with you and assist you in the ordering process. I know this part can be overwhelming and I am happy to help you narrow down your selections. In my digital darkroom, I will carefully hand process each images to give you the best ones from your entire session.

Please feel free to email me for more information on the Life+Style Boutique Package.

The other thing that I want to share with you—-beginning of June, JoyfulHeart Photography was fortunate enough to participate in the CAPs silent auction along with other local businesses.  JoyfulHeart donated  a photo session and along with a gift certificate to be used towards products and prints.  I was surprised to find out that the winning bidder happened to be a family that I know!  That even made it more special for me!  It was an incredible night to see how the entire community pulled together to support such a  worthwhile cause. 

I am working on several projects right now….and I am going to let you in a little secret…..JoyfulHeart is working on a project with another notable fundraiser coming up in August.  Things are not finalized yet and I will keep you posted with more information as soon as I can. 

It has been an exciting couple of months.  In case you were wondering what happened to me in the month of May and part of June, I hope you feel assured now that I am alive and well!!

That’s all the news for now.  As usual, I can’t end this without some photos. 

These are “J’s” Graduation Open House pictures. It was such a beautiful day with this beautiful family. I can’t even begin to describe to you how special this family is to me.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from that day.




Experience Joy|Elkhart Family Photographer


One of the reasons I love photography is being able to capture the little things in life that we often forget.  It’s amazing what the camera sees and how it can just capture the rawness and the beauty of life.  

Twenty years from now, when our little children are all-grown, pictures are the only things that represent our memories and bring these memories back to life.

Material things may come and go… but memories are embedded in our hearts forever.

In twenty years, when we  go through that old pile of photographs, what do our hearts remember?  Do our hearts remember the joy we experienced even in imperfect times? Or do we choose to remember that perfectly staged photograph with everyone saying cheese and smiling perfectly for the camera?

To me, true beauty lies in pictures that show the rawness of the moment and often it is where we can capture that scattered joy.

Joy comes in many forms…

…it’s the memories of our kids blowing bubbles, representing love can be found in simplicity of life.

…it’s holding their little hand through treacherous water,  representing our gentle guidance in their time of needs. 

…it’s seeing how high they can climb up that tree, reflecting our vision for them in life.

…it’s bending over and helping them tie their shoes, showing our unconditional love.

… it’s in their eyes we see their purity and innocence, representing their souls.

These moments  happen every day but we often forget to truly enjoy being “in joy“.

When a dear friend of mine asked me to photograph her children as a surprise gift for Father’s Day, I was so honored she trusted me to capture a special moment like that. 

Deep down inside, I was a little nervous that she puts all that trust in a new photographer like me. Many evenings leading up to the photo session, I said a little prayer so that He opens my eyes to help me capture the true spirits of her beautiful children. I know this is what she wanted and I wanted to make sure I can truly capture her children the way she sees them.  She is such a dear friend to me and she holds such a special place in my heart. I prayed and asked Him to help me see what she sees that day. I know that’s a big order I just requested and placed in Him to fulfill.

I wanted the session to feel as natural as possible and so I followed the children’s lead to where they wanted their pictures captured. 

It had been raining around here quite a bit. The part of the park we were at was more in the “low land” area so this area was heavily flooded.  In some areas , the water came knee-deep and was marshy and almost swamp-like condition. Probably not very desirable to photograph family portraits  and would be the last place a new photographer would ever imagined to do one for her first family portrait session!!

Ofcourse, this area became the biggest attraction for these 5 children the moment they saw it!  And before we all knew it, they all took off their shoes and off to the swamp they investigated!!

As they took off to investigage, I am thinking…what happened to that vision I had of the perfect picture of the kids sitting by the waterfall and a picture standing by the bridge I promised their mommy???? What happened to that request I just placed in Him? A request for that perfect picture?  



It made me realized, when was the last time we as adults take off our shoes and just run free? 

When was the last time we truly experience joy and just live in the moment and feel blessed in that moment? 

Truly experience joy… even if our conditions are not perfect, even if sometimes we are in the midst of swampy and marshy land part of our lives?

Or do we  need to wait for that perfect moment, with our perfect smiles, and our perfect clothes to capture that perfect picture…? 

The spontaneity of that evening confirmed my love for photography.  I love that kids are so free-spirited and know how to stop and enjoy the world and most importantly how to find joy in every day’s ordinaries. Even if these ordinaries are all all swampy and marshy.

Children really teach us what life is all about….it’s these little moments, the “imperfect” moments, these are the ones that make life BIG and really count.

When we look back, these are the ones that truly capture the essence of who we are…natural and all imperfect!


The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.  ~Author Unknown


D Family, thanks for opening my eyes that day and experience true joy with your family! It was what I needed to confirm that this is the part of photography that I love to capture and why I must open my heart to this new journey that He has placed in my path. 

Robbie: Senior Pictures


We’ve known Robbie since he was a little little boy.  We’ve spent many fun camping weekends with this family.  I was so delighted to have the opportunity to photograph him for his senior pictures. 

His family is so proud of him.  He’s getting a full ride scholarship to college this Fall.  He’s smart, athletic, and handsome! Congrats Robbie! You have done well and I know you will go far in life! Keep up with the great work and good luck in college!!

Thanks “B” family for letting me a part of this special time of his life! 

 You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
–Dr. Seuss


Emily: Senior|elkhart senior photographer


Saturday,  I had the pleasure of photographing a dear friend’s son.  Robbie is graduating this year and we’ve known him since he was a little boy!  Actually, the picture below is his girlfriend who came along.  While Robbie was changing into his second outfit, I snapped a few shots of Emily.  She was so much fun to photograph!!!  Iwill post Robbie’s senior pictures in the next couple of days.



Pink.licious Baby S|Elkhart Baby Photographer


This is Baby S.  She was the bundle of joy!! She was so easy-going and warmed up to me instantly during her 4 month photo session.  My heart just melted with joy! I photographed her when she was a newborn at 1 month old.  Here she is 4 months already!! All I can say is she is so pink.li.cious!! Is there such a word? It is now!

A baby has a special way of adding joy in every single day.—Author Unknown







Springtime at Bonneyville



If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.                  

 ~Anne Bradstreet                  


Springtime is my all-time favorite season of the year.  After a long cold winter with very little sun, I say so long-winter and greet the entrance of Spring with Joy!