June 3, 2013

Portland Photographer // The Gemmers // A Northwest Portrait Session


This was more than just a portrait session to me. And don’t get me wrong, with every couple I photograph, it becomes very personal. I always strive to become close to my subjects and develop a relationship, that way our session transcendes that “photo session” feeling and turns more into a couple of friends hanging out. One of which, has a camera. It becomes very real and honest. I crave it. When I met the Gemmers for the first time, I felt like I was reunited with best friends I hadn’t seen in 28 years. Their infectious charm just has a way to warm up your spirit and make you smile. They’re already married but were looking to have some portraits done, especially to celebrate the fact that they’re bringing a new human into the world soon. Congrats you two! I don’t know if it’s Adams burly beard or the fact that they had a hand stitched wood hoop themed from the movie “UP” but they totally remind me of the couple from the movie. I thought I’d see a glass jar of savings that said “Paradise Falls” on it.


So we started in their house, to capture their home life. Shot a few frames of them in the room where their child will be in a matter of months. Then we set out on our adventure and headed to the gorge. It started pouring rain but we didn’t care. We just put up the back hatch to their volvo and let the sound of the rain set the mood. After a little adventuring we drove to the summit of the gorge where I had them read letters to each other explaining what it meant to them to be heading on this new journey with the other. I loved catching this on camera. It’s a wonderful moment to document, this time right before their first child is born and have them explain that to each other, it was beautiful. I didn’t listen to what they wrote each other but judging from the photos, I think it’s pretty clear. I love these two humans, a friendship from an old life that has been rekindled. Adam+Heather my friends….   [audio:http://www.philchester.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/firstaidkit_emmylou.mp3|titles=Track 3]

in home portland portraits 01in home portland portraits 02standing in the soon to be nursery loading up the volvo driving to the columbia gorgeportland portrait sitting in the back of their volvoportland portrait photographer columbia gorgeportland photographer documents couple in their volvoportland photographer documents couple at the gorgeportland photographer documents couple inside their volvoPhil Chester Photography 01Phil Chester Photography 02Tattooed Couple standing by their volvorad car stickerskeep portland weird bumper sticker on volvoa couples hiking boots on the columbia gorgephillip chester photographyrad couple overlooks the summit of the columbia gorgeportland photographer photographs couple at gorge summitportland photographer photographs laughing couple at the gorge



Beautiful as always, my friend.

13:11 June 3, 2013


Beautiful work. Makes me long for a return trip to Portland.

13:16 June 3, 2013


wow, really gorgeous. Love this. ~Jennifer

13:20 June 3, 2013

Lisa Lupo

Phil, you completely nailed it! I can seriously feel how sweet this couple is. The song made it even more perfect <3

13:31 June 3, 2013


So good. And her ink is killer.

13:31 June 3, 2013

Igor Demba

Right in the core.

13:34 June 3, 2013


Well I just love these. <3

13:35 June 3, 2013

Luke Hayden

Love it man.

13:47 June 3, 2013


Love love love these! The scenery makes me pine for Oregon :)

13:50 June 3, 2013

Tuomas Mikkonen

Great set! Love those Volvo shots, hahaa!

13:59 June 3, 2013


Awesome. Just awesome!

14:12 June 3, 2013


so quality.

14:18 June 3, 2013


Nailed it Phil... So so so lovely.

14:36 June 3, 2013

Briana Morrison

What a beautiful session. I love that they chose to do couple's portraits before expanding their family. These photographs are beautiful, I can really see their personalities shine through. :-)

15:34 June 3, 2013

Jade Sheldon

Oh my goodness. I can see why you connected to them! They seem like an amazing couple full of charm. Super huge congratulations to them on becoming parents! Ah! So exciting. Can't wait for you to photograph me and my fellow someday... :)

19:30 June 3, 2013


Great post! I love how you document people in cars. It's all great, I just always notice that about your work. ;)

21:40 June 3, 2013


HOLY. SHIT. This entire set fills every corner of my heart and warms my heart. Phil, I want to tell stories like you sir.

21:42 June 3, 2013


Staaaaaahhhhhhppp... For real. You made the right decision moving to Portland. It suits you and you suit it, friend.

21:47 June 3, 2013

The Gemmers

oh, phil. gosh...how can adam and i even *try* to put into words what it meant for us to have you capture this day. we were pretty bruised and untrusting after some unhappy circumstances, but we felt an instant old & dear friendship with you also when we first met! it was from that moment that you became a friend! we felt like you really knew us...like to the core! and, gosh. it's an absolute honor. the photographs seriously brought me to tears. the night we looked at them...and now on the blog. especially to my favorite song! {smile} perhaps it's the pregnancy hormones, but i am just so overcome with emotion at how lovely these photographs are. thank you from the very soul of us!! we look forward to a long & lovely friendship with you! and..thank you to all of the lovely people that made such kind comments!! {{hugs}}

22:19 June 3, 2013


My favs: green shoes, and the two in the back of the car shot from inside the car. Love your photos.

03:55 June 4, 2013


Beautiful set! Adam and Heather seem like two wonderful people, bonded deeply. Congrats to them for soon welcoming another member to the family!

02:41 June 6, 2013


Oh my! You did an incredible job of capturing the spirits of my dearest friends. It has been awhile since I've seen them in person as I live on the East coast and they on the West, but these pictures made me feel close to them again! They are so stunning and perfect!

13:39 June 7, 2013

Kathleen Stachniak

Oh my word. This collection is utterly amazing.

14:52 June 13, 2013


Phil, these are absolutely outstanding. I'm speechless.

18:15 June 13, 2013

Maryanne Gobble

I love all these portraits so much I can hardly stand it. Someday I will move back to Oregon... These have such a great sense of place and culture.

09:30 October 9, 2013


I am so very happy I stumbled upon your site! This shoot moved me to tears. It's that beautiful. I can't get over it. The mood, the frames, the emotions... bloody well done! And the pair of them and their story - just beyond lovely xxx S. from Austria.

09:38 October 9, 2013


I don't know you, and I don't know these couples...yet I sit here at my desk with tears in my eyes. This is perfection, the photos, the music, all of it. Can you please tell me what the music is on this page? I adore it.

15:42 October 16, 2013

The Gemmers

Hi Kate... You're so sweet! The song Phil attached to this post is my favorite song. It's by a Scandinavian sister-duo that will blow your mind! They're called "First Aid Kit", and this song is a remake the song Emmylou! {smile} Enjoy! They will surely become your new music obsession!

16:09 October 16, 2013


Oooh thanks so much for the reply! I just purchased the song and will listen to it endlessly! Such a sweet, sweet sentiment, which is why it was so perfect for your shoot. Best of luck with your new babe.

16:21 October 16, 2013

Julie Marie

Really awesome photos! They're perfect couple and their house looks amazing :)

13:10 December 19, 2013