Jan 27 2016

A Pie-Filled Peek at Smarsh Week 2016

We were pretty pleased to return for Smarsh Week this year, to capture some of the happenings during their activity-filled multi-day event! Employees from the many global offices of this tech company converge in Portland every year, to engage in a variety of events and mixers in and around their Downtown PDX headquarters.

A special treat on the Smarsh Week 2016 agenda was a pie smashing event, done to support fundraising for the Movember Foundation, to help them in their continuing fight against cancer. A dozen-or-so employees offered themselves up as tribute–including several members of their Leadership Team–and together raised over $1000 for the Foundation.

We couldn’t resist this incredibly GIF-able moment featuring CEO Steve Marsh, braving his pie-in-the-face like a champ. Big ups to everyone at Smarsh for being all-around lovely people, and for doing good in the community!

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Smarsh CEO supporting Movember fundraising efforts by getting pied in the face.

Jan 19 2016

On Keeping Projects Moving and Shifting Gears: an interview with Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner

Writing a book is no small undertaking, and neither is being a parent. Kelley “Frisky Sour” Gardiner didn’t shy away from either of those things, though–she resolved to write and edit her first book throughout her pregnancy, and publish it before her little one’s due date! Now, she’s created Roller Derby for Beginners, a definitive roller derby resource book for new skaters that’s available as both a paperback and an e-book, and even maintained a companion web site of resources to go with it.

Now, that companion site is taking on a new life: RollerDerbyForBeginners.com has become an ongoing blog of tips, information, and resources for new roller derby skaters, “to help new skaters be better athletes, make sense of their new world, and get the reassurance that though their derby journey is their own, there’s a lot that we have in common.” It wasn’t the easiest decision to shift gears and find a new purpose to the site, but things are looking bright for the new site.

We checked in with Frisky to pick her brain on how to keep a long-term project moving, and on shifting gears and making changes to your original vision.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book.

Kelley/Frisky, after the birth of her awesome roller derby resource book. (photo courtesy of author)

UPSWEPT: Roller Derby For Beginners was your first published book–what parts of creating and promoting it were the most important to you?

FRISKY: I think the most important aspect of me making a product was to make sure that it was worth buying. I mean, I’d rather make zero dollars and help someone than make a million dollars by bilking people $14.95 at a time. My volunteer early readers were absolutely essential to forming the book into something that was useful to all kinds of skaters with all kinds of experiences. I’m just me, and I skated for two leagues. Getting feedback from my beta readers and learning through their lenses was just as important as hiring good editors. (Hire good editors.)

UPSWEPT: Longer-term projects can be tough to manage. What did you do to keep the book project moving, and keep yourself motivated?

FRISKY: I had this kinda big deadline looming over me in the form of pregnancy. Then, I had a successful Kickstarter, so I HAD to finish, or else [I’d] be that jerk. Luckily for all those Kickstarter supporters, Baby Sour came a week after his due date, and I’d planned to take that time off anyway. I absolutely cannot recommend trying to figure out the finer points of formatting and page breaks in Word on four hours of sleep, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

UPSWEPT: Writing a book isn’t easy! What were some of the bigger challenges of creating and promoting your book?

FRISKY: What with the baby and all, my promotion plan became kind of helter skelter. I thought I’d have time to market after the kid was born, but, um, no. No one ever has more time later, least of all when they suddenly get a 24-hour on-call job.

Writing the thing was just work. I had a plan, and just chipped away at it slowly. People are impressed by that part, but it comes naturally to me as a writer to put words on a page, edit, edit, ask for help, and edit again. Knowing how to pitch this book and reach my very particular audience was the problem, especially with a pretty small marketing budget.

UPSWEPT: What made you decide to shift gears and turn your book companion site into an active blog? Is there anything that made the transition from book to blog difficult?

quotation_goal-settingFRISKY: It was a path that should have been obvious [to me] a few years ago, but it was hard to let go of my old roller derby blog. It didn’t even have a roller derby name or URL–it was personal blog that just sort of evolved to being about roller derby. It became a place to blog for beginning skaters, so it only made sense to kill off the old blog and really focus on making one site that served all those needs.

I still have to figure out a few details, like whether to transfer some old content to the new site. The only problem is that I’m learning more all the time that I wish could be in the book! That’s the beauty and the detriment of digital publishing. I hope I can just cover the basics in the book, get people rolling, and then bring them to the blog for the details. (Of course, I’m hoping to draw new [book] readers via the blog as well.)

The new blog concept is an experiment at this point, to see what kind of content people want. I want to keep putting out useful information and paying writers for it.

UPSWEPT: Do you have any advice for people who might want to publish or blog in the future?

FRISKY: I’m a professional blogger and writer, and the most common problem I see is starting without a clear goal or focus. Do you want to share your story? Sell a product? Get more exposure? Focus on a goal as early as possible, so you don’t spin your wheels in a million directions. But at the same time, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. There are just different strategies for accomplishing your goals and catching those dreams. Messing up and learning along the way is part of the deal.

Jan 11 2016

Breaking It Down: Setting Goals for 2016

The Future Is In Your Hands! Start Setting Goals and Make a Plan for 2016!

It’s a new year, and everyone has resolutions and setting goals on their mind. If you’re anything like us, you might start feeling sort of anxious or overwhelmed about all the possibilities. You keep telling yourself to floss more, drink more water, go on vacation, catch up with friends and family, do yoga, etc.

Setting Goals for business: physical, emotional, relationalTo help combat the anxiety that comes with having so many options, we like to break our goals up into categories: the Physical, the Emotional, and the Relational. Some of those examples may apply more directly to you as a business owner (seriously, go on vacation!) than others, the basic principle still applies. In what ways can your business improve physically, emotionally, and relationally? Here are a few suggestions:

The Physical

Everyone has something about their office that makes life harder. The printer never works. You don’t have enough space. Where have all the pens gone? Take this time to reflect on your physical space, and come up with some ways that you might be able to improve it.

The Emotional

Have you ever noticed how great it feels to do something nice for someone else? Find an organization that matters to you and give what you can. whether it’s time as a volunteer or a regular donation, you’ll notice your happiness levels increasing.

The Relational

Is it time to expand your network? There’s nothing like bouncing ideas off fellow business owners for feedback or support. Think about joining a network or organization that’s related to your business to spice up your relationships.

Don’t Know Where To Start Setting Goals? We’ve Got Your Back.

We’re growing and changing here at Upswept HQ, too, and that means we can do more for you AND do it better. We have some awesome new team members coming aboard to lend you a helping hand, whether it’s with the small stuff, or the big visions. (you’ll meet them soon!)

  • Struggling with the Physical? We can help you make your business look fabulous on the outside with strong design, attractive and usable web solutions, and smart content strategy.
  • Looking for the Emotional center of your business? When you do a branding and web project with us, we’ll be taking you through a more in-depth Discovery process, so you feel confident in your message and do better business.
  • Feeling disconnected on the Relational side of things? We’re now taking on Social Media Management! We can help you create new content, manage campaigns, and navigate the technical side for you, so you don’t have to waste your precious day-to-day on Facebook.

We can help you formulate an action plan for making your brand image smarter and prettier in the new year. A consultation with us is always free, and we love helping you grow! Click the link below, answer a few questions about your project, and we can take the wheel.

Talk to us! We like you already. »

Hearts, successes, and good vibes to you in the coming year!

Nov 17 2015

Photos from 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball

Photos from the 2015 Swashbuckler’s Ball are now online!

Did you see us in action at the Swashbuckler’s Ball? We were happy to return for another year to capture this “grand night out for pirates, buccaneers and nautical miscreants of all stripes,” and now have candid event photos from the event online!

You can take a look through the online gallery, download your favorites, and even order prints of your most memorable moments. Just click the button to see the full gallery.

View the Full Photo Gallery »

Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's BallPortland event photography - The Young Dubliners at the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball
Portland event photography - the 2015 Swashbuckler's Ball

Nov 11 2015

Who Shapes a Photo: the Photographer, or the Subject?

Portland Headshot Photography - Heather Arndt Anderson

What does an honest photo look like? It might involve looking confident while NOT having a big, toothy smile.

I recently saw this video experiment (“6 Photographers Capture the Same Person But Their Results Vary Wildly Because of a Twist“) and started thinking about past clients I’ve worked with. Fashion and commercial photography is a different animal than what’s shown here, but much of the photography work that comes through Upswept HQ is professional headshots or personal branding–in other words, a type of photo that is very much about the person being photographed.

One of the biggest challenges of photography (and also one of my favorite ones) is the same goal that was stated by more than one photographer in this little experiment: to say something about who the subject is. All of these photographers are accomplished, skilled in technique, lighting, concept, and all created results that, while different from each other, were consistent with their individual understanding of who the subject was.

A question that I always endeavor to ask, in some form or another, is, “what do you want this photo to say about you?” Everyone has a different answer–maybe it’s about who the photo is “for,” whether it’s the subject or another audience. Maybe they want to reveal or emphasize something that they feel is hidden from view. Or, maybe the subject is fixated more on what they want to hide than what they want to show.

It’s about Trust.

Portland fashion photography - Carolyn Hart

A meaningful moment often comes when we just let go and laugh, instead of being perfectly poised.

Ultimately, there has to be a certain amount of trust. The subject needs to trust the photographer enough to show their true selves honestly, and the photographer has to trust what the subject is giving them is true. So, when the subject isn’t completely truthful (as in this video), that of course has a striking impact on the end result.

A photo is certainly shaped by the person behind the camera, but with a more sensitive and collaborative approach, a photo is also shaped by who the subject thinks they are, and what parts of that they’re willing to share–whether or not that’s who they are deep down. In order to for us to really be photographed, we have to truly know ourselves, to be able to be honest with ourselves, *and* to be willing to share ourselves with our photographer.

Perhaps that’s a tall order for a lot of us. But, if we choose to work with photographers that we trust in, we can find some really beautiful, honest, and moving moments.


Oct 21 2015

Are You Our Next Project Management Ninja?

UPDATE: this position is CLOSED! We’ve found our new team member, but we appreciate hearing from you!

We’re looking for someone who’s interested in project management for the creative industry, particularly in the area of branding and web design. It’s currently a part-time role, but it’s growing into a larger time commitment–the more you bring to the role, the better it is for both of us!

A taste of the things you’d be doing:

  • Communicating with clients and keeping them informed and happy — strong written and verbal communication skills are a must, as is experience working with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and/or Microsoft Office.
  • Gathering and sharing info and assets between clients and our team
  • Setting clear expectations and keeping clients on track
  • Task management — experience with Freedcamp, Basecamp, or similar is a plus!
  • Writing, editing and creating proposals for new clients
  • Building the right team for a client, by choosing and managing the right talent for our photoshoots, and our larger design and development projects
  • Scheduling, photoshoot coordination, and other administrative tasks; keeping calendars up to date, invoicing and receiving payments — Quickbooks experience is a plus!
  • Contributing to our blog — if you have opinions about design, marketing, and creative, we’d love to share them!

This position is flexible, and much of the work can be done from your home or your favorite coffee shop. A fast internet connection is a must, however! We’d like you to be able to commit approximately 1 hour Monday-Friday mornings to the position. Your work hours may vary a bit from week to week, but you can generally expect to work at least eight to ten hours in a typical week. You’ll need to periodically come into the studio, especially during the early stages, and for client consultations, which are often scheduled in the afternoon, so if you have a flexible schedule, that would be great!  We believe strongly in working with local talent, and we want to grow and create opportunities in our own super-gifted Portland-y garden–with that in mind, we are only interested in candidates based in the Portland Metro area.

We’re a young company, and we have a lot of experience producing solid work, but our process is always evolving and improving. We welcome any wisdom/ideas that you can bring to the table.

So, if you’re a good listener and communicator, and this sounds like something you could grow into, let’s talk about it! Or, if you can think of a trusted human who’d be a good fit, we’d love to hear from them, too.

How to apply:

  • E-mail us at ask (at) upsweptcreative (dot) com and tell us why you’re awesome!
  • Include your resume and any professional references you may have.
  • Use the subject line: “I’m a Project Management Ninja” when you e-mail us.
Sep 25 2015

Freelance Web Designers & Developers: We’re Seeking You!

web design and development in PortlandAre you a freelance Designer or WordPress Developer? It’s looking like a busy Fall here at Upswept, and we might just need your help! So, we’re updating our resources and looking for smart, fun, and all-around-stellar people to work with us on current and future projects.


We have front-end development projects coming up in the very near future, and potentially back-end projects further down the line. You should have:

  • Strong knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP.
  • Experience building WordPress themes from scratch is a must!
  • Experience with coding mobile-responsive sites is a huge plus.
  • Knowledge of Bootstrap and Sass are also plusses.


We handle a variety of projects for independent businesses, including brand design, web sites, photography, and other creative endeavors. Here’s what we’re looking for from freelance designers:

  • Web Design experience is a must, as that is our biggest need.
  • Experience with logo/branding and print design is also a bonus.
  • Agency experience is a plus.
  • Familiarity with 12-column and responsive design would also be great.

Portland is our home. Hopefully it’s yours, too.

We believe in giving back to our local economy whenever we can, so we have a very strong preference to work with freelancers who are located in PDX. We want to be able to meet with you face-to-face! However, there is a slim chance that remote work may also be possible for the perfect person. Individuals only–please no firms or companies. Please no inquiries from outside of the U.S.

Sound like you?

Fantastic! Just e-mail us at ask [at] upsweptcreative [dot] com using the subject line, “Freelancing is Awesome.” Include your resume and a portfolio link, and a brief paragraph about who you are, what you love, and why you want to make pretty with us, and we’ll reach out to you soon. Thank you!

Sep 16 2015

Maker Faire PDX: Making it More Super!

“Hi! Do you want to become a superhero?”


“Well, come on in, and we’ll get you started!”

Maker Faire PDX was a blast this year, and I was so excited that Upswept Creative could be a part of it. I’d wandered around the event last year as an attendee and loved seeing all the amazing forms of making–prop fabrication, robotics, smithing and leatherworking, mechanical wonders, even cheesemaking! So, when I got together with the Alter Egos Society and had the idea to work with their fantastic costume accessories and a Superhero Photobooth, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

We got to spend our time at Maker Faire transforming people of all ages into superheroes, and creating photos that we turned into 4×6″ trading cards! Before we photographed them, each person created their own custom mask with the help of Alter Egos Society, and it was a lot of fun seeing the designs they came up with. The people who visited our photobooth were consistently enthusiastic, open, and ready to have fun, and it was incredibly energizing.

And really, who doesn’t want to help someone feel like a super-powered hero of the people? 😉

These are just a precious few of the fantastic folks who came by while we were at Maker Faire, and a few peeks at the process of planning and putting it all together. We have more highlights posted on Facebook–there’s just too much awesome to share them all here!

Finding the perfect out-of-this-world backdrop.

Finding the perfect out-of-this-world backdrop.

Designing a trading card border and test printing.

Designing a trading card border and test printing.

Alter Egos Society spearheaded the custom mask making!

Alter Egos Society spearheaded the custom mask making!

I wouldn't have made it through the weekend without a heroic photo booth assistant!

I wouldn’t have made it through the weekend without a heroic photo booth assistant!

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Sep 01 2015

5 Goofy Jokes to Lighten the Mood at Your Next Photo Session

We all have rough days. Sometimes, those rough days also happen to be on Picture Day.

It’s the kind of morning when I’ve overslept, had to skip breakfast, and spilled coffee on my shirt. I think that, just maybe, I’ll get to sit down and take a breath when I get to my desk, but then comes an endless stream of interruptions, stressful meetings, frustrating phone calls… and now they tell me I’m supposed to smile for a photo session? Unbelievable!

Don’t give up just yet, though: getting in the right headspace is THE single most important thing you can do to make your photos turn out great. So, when I’m in a photo session and it looks like someone’s having a rough day, I sometimes like to sprinkle in a few jokes. Sometimes, I’ll get a good laugh, and other times, you might just be surprised that I’d tell such a terrible joke, but hey, if I’m doing the job, I’m going to at least try to bring a bit of fun.

If you’re in a funk when it’s picture time, try thinking of a favorite jokes–or even try telling one. Or, ask someone to tell you a joke. Or, think about something that you find funny or heartwarming. Whatever it is, if it makes you feel even a little bit better, it’ll come through on the lens.

A few of our go-to jokes to lighten the mood at a photoshoot…

Q: What do you call the baby of an elephant and a rhino?
A: Elephino.

Q: How do you find Will Smith in the snow?
A: You look for the Fresh Prints.

Us: What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
You: [usually we expect a response of, “…R?”]
Us: No, it’s the C!

Q: Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella?
A: Fo’ drizzle!

Q: Did you hear about the farmer who won an award?
A: He was outstanding in his field!

Have More Fun at Work. Get Awesome Professional Headshots.

I believe that photography should be fun–not just for me, but for you, too. I’m all about making things fun, easy, and as stress-free as possible, and I’ll tell you as many goofy jokes as you want to hear, to make sure you’re having a good time. I’m here with Team Upswept to take the time, energy, and hassle of your company headshots off of your plate, and to make you and everyone in your business look good in, and feel great about, your professional photos.

If you book a group headshot session, you can grab a special offer at the level that’s right for you. The people who make your business special should feel like they’re special, too. Book a group or corporate headshot session now, before they’re all gone.

Get Your Group Headshot Special »

Portland branding design and photography – Upswept Creative

Aug 03 2015

Why Your Corporate Headshots Suck–And How To Fix It

“Is that really what I look like?”

“I can’t believe I’m stuck with this. I look so tired and miserable.”

“I’m just not photogenic at all.”

(image courtesy of photo assistant extraordinaire, Hailey Rose Jones)

You’ll feel better about your professional headshot if you have a professional photographer on your side. (image by photo assistant extraordinaire, Hailey Rose Jones)

I had a photo like that, at one of my first jobs. Someone at the office whom I barely knew quickly grabbed a point-and-shoot, and before I knew what was happening, the oncamera flash fired and there were spots in my vision. I didn’t feel comfortable or prepared, and they didn’t know what they were doing. And really, how relaxed would you feel if someone surprised you with a camera in your face, during your first week on-the-job?

Next thing I knew, that photo was following me around my office: in my e-mail signature, on my work badge, on the company intranet. Every time I looked at it, all I could see was deer-in-headlights eyes, a fake smile, what felt like half-a-dozen chins. It looked like some bizarre, soulless automaton had borrowed my face. The person in that photo didn’t look smart, or competent, or even the slightest bit happy, and every time I looked at it, I felt actively worse about myself.

Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself, and grumbled to yourself that it could have been so much better?

I certainly have, but that doesn’t have to happen to you! There are a few things you can do to make the best of your professional headshot situation:

  • Plan ahead. Make sure you set aside ample time for your photos, and that you arrive camera-ready and on-time… or maybe even a few minutes early.
  • Have your photos taken by someone you trust. Does the person taking your staff photos have photography experience? See if they have samples of past headshot photos that they can show you.
  • Get in the right headspace. Are your photos happening in the middle of your workday? Give yourself 5-10 minutes of chill-out time before your photo is taken, so you can decompress, and clear your head of workday stress.
  • Practice good self-care. Get good sleep the night before, stay hydrated, and eat well. Caring for yourself on the inside will show on the outside!
  • Choose the right lighting and setting. Not sure what good light looks like? A professional photographer can help you make the right decisions.

I know what you’re thinking: professional photography seems like a big step, right?

A professional headshot that you’re unhappy with comes with its own costs, though: do you want to make your co-workers and employees feel sad and hopeless when they look at their professional headshots? Of course not! Keeping your business-mates happy makes your business run better, so their happiness means your success.

Fortunately, I have the perfect offer to help your business break away from bad professional photos for good. I’m here with Team Upswept to take the time, energy, and hassle of your company headshots off of your plate. With my years of expertise with lighting, composition, and making people look awesome, we’ll make you and everyone in your business look good in, and feel great about, your professional photos.

If you book a group headshot session, you can grab a special offer at the level that’s right for you:

Why book it now?

We only have room in our schedule for TEN (10) of these sessions, so once they’re booked, they’re GONE. And, if you’re one of the first three (3) people to book a group session, you’ll save an additional 20% off your package—that means just $180 for five, $319 for ten, or $580 for twenty people in your company.

The people who make your business special should feel like they’re special, too. Book a group or corporate headshot session now, before they’re all gone.

Get Your Group Headshot Special »