Hi, I’m Anj!

Mar 24, 2023 | Personal

Happy Friday, friends!

I started this blog endeavor and never took a moment to introduce myself, so grab a cup of coffee or whiskey and prepare to be amazed (or not, that’s fine, too).


Let’s start with the basics. I have a family of 5 – an adoring husband named Marty and three beautiful boys that fill me with joy and push me to all my limits. Nothing in life could have prepared me for motherhood but it’s led to me discovering so much about myself as well as taught me to see the world incredibly differently. I’m constantly reorienting and finding a new normal! My boys also have infused themselves into my photography style. The thought, “how would I like my boys to be photographed?”, is always at the back of my head. I have an introspective eldest, an emotion-filled second, and a force-of-nature third. The most important aspect of my portrait work is that personalities are truthfully embodied. This means smiles aren’t required, emotions are respected, and having fun is a must!


I love Wes Anderson – bonus points if you can guess which movie this latest family portrait is from!


How did I get here?

I always dreamed of being in the creative realm. Maybe a children’s book author, an illustrator, or a storyteller of some sort. My college life was the perfect blend of science + art. I did a double degree in Nutritional Science and Fine Art with an emphasis in charcoal drawing alongside a minor in Microbiology and Spanish. The main foundational thread of my college life was a love of learning! Charcoal drawing gave me an affinity for deep shadows and directional light, a love for compositional storytelling, and an appreciation for the process behind an artistic work.


My favorite charcoal drawing from college – realistic and detailed yet surreal was my world.


The dark and moody aspect of my portrait photography might have started with slightly sinister illustrations.


Photography was always a part of my life – beginning with my dad passing on his love of photography to me. I would take pictures with my Canon AE-1 and black and white film. Oh, the anticipation of waiting to see what I captured was the best feeling! My high school art teacher introduced dark room photography to me; Mr. Weiss – an amazing teacher and human being. He told me to explore creativity in a world that told me that wasn’t a viable income source.

Fast forward to college dark room days at Iowa State and hours upon hours of contentment – it’s important to pay attention to where you are most content in life decisions, I think. Even at this moment, though, I wasn’t considering photography as a career. After an internship at Kraft (yes, the macaroni and cheese Kraft) in their Microbiology sector, it was clear to me that I did NOT belong in a lab. Another source of inspiration from my college years? Art history. Painters, specifically, of all genres – Mondrian, Dali, Monet, Chinese ink paintings, Angelica Kauffman, Le Brun, and so many more.

The next phase of my life gifted me with my husband, dear friends, family, and an incredible portrait experience working at Jacquelyn’s Photography. The talented women that hired me are now my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and the gratitude I have for that season of my life is immeasurable. They taught me about portrait artistry and so much more, introduced me to my husband, and included me in a beautiful family dynamic that I love to this day.

This picture was taken when Marty and I got back from our honeymoon in India – how old do you think we were?!


After moving to Kansas City for 3 years for the thrill of big city life and then the reality of 3 boys bringing us back home to Iowa, Anj Portrait Studio (formerly Lav & Lime) came to be. Studio photography, playing with light, and fine art were all important to me, so finding this home/studio property with access to an acre of beauty + a separate space for clients was absolute perfection.



Our house and studio on the same property gave me a gift – I’m a homebody, something I didn’t know about myself until later in life. I thought I wanted a life of reckless adventure, travel, parties – turns out I love to be braless and with my loves. My desire for adventure has transferred to the studio and photography, and it’s the loveliest!


Thank you for being here, kindred spirits. Want to know more? Ask away!





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