An American flag ripples in the slight Dungeness breeze outside the Staton residence.
Tara Staton opens the front door of her SunLand home wearing a cotton sundress. Her long, straight blonde hair falls freely over her ivory-colored shoulders.
She offers her guest a freshly baked fudge brownie and cold glass of water. Her friendly smile is both welcoming and contagious.
Each crisp, white wall is thoughtfully decorated with both color and black-and-white framed pictures.
Staton, a 23-year-old Florida native, is shy when it comes to talking about herself and her work. But she doesn't have to say a word:
Her photographs speak for themselves.
A mother and child embracing in a loving hug ... A father and son sharing a much-loved hobby ... A brother and sister holding hands ... A high school graduate contemplating the future ...
Staton expertly captures the heart and soul of the subjects she photographs, freezing their expressions and energy in the viewfinder of her digital camera.
Then, late at night while her 3-year-old little boy sleeps and her husband performs his duties as a U.S. Coast Guardsman, Staton perfects each image into a personal masterpiece - one she would be honored to hang from the wall in her own home.
Children are Staton's favorites subjects to photograph. But she does it all: families, animals, landscapes and wilderness.
"I tell parents not to be surprised if they find me hunkered down in the corner with their child," Staton said.
"I have to get to know the child and help them feel comfortable to bring out the best in them."
The Statons moved to Sequim a couple of months ago and will be stationed in the area for three or four years.
"I love the community here," Staton said. "It seems so connected."
When she's not working, Staton is busy exploring the outdoors and reading the newspaper in search of fun activities - most of which she shares on her personal blog that's updated almost daily.
Hiking is Staton's personal favorite outdoor activity - a pastime that keeps her sane and drives her husband "crazy."
"He doesn't understand why we have to hike six hours
for one image and why he has to carry all my gear. He jokes that he's my pack mule but he's a good sport and my biggest fan."
Before moving to the peninsula, Staton's husband was stationed in Astoria, Ore., a town very similar to Sequim, according to the young wife.
"It's been an adventure but I wouldn't trade it for anything," she said about her travels.
"I love experiencing different parts of the country."
Of all the places they've been, Sequim ranks No. 1.
"I think my husband would like to retire and die here," Staton said.
To ensure clients receive her full attention, Staton books a limited number of sessions each month.
"I love what I do and the way I run my business enables me to continue doing what I love," she said.
"When people see my work hanging on their wall, I want them to see something that really represents who they are.
"So, I take the time and energy to make that happen."
For more information or to see examples of Staton's work, go online to www.tarastatonphotography.com.
Ashley Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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