Hello & assalam-alaikum. I’m Nataliya and I’m so glad you’re here!
I’m a nostagia-filled photographer mama based near Seattle in the US; a storyteller – writer – a creative, running on extra supply of chai (tea made the Pakistani way). My husband and I both grew up in Pakistan & have lived in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State) for 14+ years now.
This blog is a place to share bits of my heart – in photos + words. I love to write about motherhood, home, culture & living a meaningful life.
While this is mainly a lifestyle blog, sometimes I feel things deeply; you can expect me to occasionally be posting about things I feel important to talk about. A few issues close to my heart; infertility & mental health awareness, women empowerment, body positivity, race & minority issues, sustainability and more.
I started blogging 8 years ago when my daughter was 1; paused for a few years when I needed to focus more on my photography business but have gotten back to it again recently. When I’m not posting here, often times I can be found sharing on my Instagram.
SCROLL DOWN FOR SOME COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ANSWERS TO THOSE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW & WHEN DID I START BLOGGING? In 2012 after reading blogs for years (I had been an early reader of blogs when they started getting popular around ’07-’08) and realizing how much strength there is in sharing our stories, I started blogging about motherhood, loss & everyday things. There were hardly any Pakistani / Muslim voices in the blogging world at that time & I felt there needed to be. It was a weird season of my life after becoming a mom & losing my dad within a year. This blog felt like a happy distraction that brought meaning and purpose.
WHY DO I BLOG? Despite Instagram & other distractions, for me there is still magic in sitting down with my chai at the end of the day with my laptop to catch up on my favorite blogs. It feels slow, it feels mindful and it always leaves me inspired in my mothering, in my home or the way I look at life. I write for the very same reason, hoping my blog can feel the same way to someone else.
I also do it as a personal journal, something to look back on when these days are long gone. I also think it’s important for there to be diverse voices, Muslim, Pakistani voices within this lifestyle blogging space so we all feel seen. This is my little part towards that:)
WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO I USE? For photos of my own family, most times I end up using my Canon 6D with my 50mm 1.2 lens. For my business my gear is all linked here.
HOW DID I BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER? DID I GO TO SCHOOL FOR IT? No actually, I have a Bachelors in Computer Science from FAST in Islamabad in Pakistan. I got interested in it after moving to Seattle and it was a hobby that turned into a business. Everything photography related I’ve learned through reading books and Google, trial-and-error, making lots of mistakes and from experience!
CAMERA/LENS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TAKING PHOTOS OF YOUR KIDS? For regular DSLRS, I always recommend any of the Canon Rebel series or Canon 6D if you’re looking to get an entry level full frame camera (more on full frame vs crop sensors) & a 50mm (1.2/1.4/1.8) lens that fits in your budget. Another favorite lens is the Sigma Art 35mm 1.4.
If you’re looking for quality of dslrs but in a smaller size I recommend mirrorless DSLRS, Sony Alpha models look awesome to me. While these work well, I also think the best camera is the one you have so if your phone camera is the only one you own, to figure out how to use it best.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE MOTHERHOOD, HOME & YOUR BUSINESS? I think there is no such thing as balance really! It doesn’t exist – or not for me! And I’m okay with that. Some days my house is clean & pretty, some days I’m all caught up on work, some days I’m the best mom but not all together at the same time usually. That being said I love using hacks for being more productive. I’m always trying to make systems that help me do more in less time. I think anything in your business that you are doing repeatedly needs to be streamlined. This is crucial for me. I’ve tried to use most of the time Anya’s in school on my work. House chores happen randomly mostly with her around, on weekends. Cooking has almost always been with her around. I try to keep it quick and simple. I am trying to define better boundaries with my work now with set hours and conveying this to clients too so they know outside of these I’ll be with family and not replying to emails.
HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED? A few things that help me keep some order: Keeping a planner and a journal, using google calendar and list-making. Simplifying our routines, meals, lives, includes online shopping. Very few after school things for Anya. Limit social plans. Getting help where I can (eg: cleaning). More here.
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT HAVING AN ONLY CHILD? TALK ABOUT INFERTILITY? I’ve written about this not being a choice we made after getting questions about it. BUT I have to say it can be a blessing itself in so many ways. I’ve known only children very closely in my life (my mom and grandma firstly) and they’ve been some of the kindest, most wholesome people I’ve seen and so I’m learning to focus on the positives and to cherish how I’m able to put so much thought and energy into raising her since she’s my only. Of course some days I overthink and it feels really hard! —- While I’m open about our struggle with infertility (we had our daughter through IUI), I also feel it’s not entirely “my” story to share so I try to share in a way that normalizes it and yet I’m able to keep our privacy. BUT if you or anyone close to you is struggling with it and wants to reach out, I would love to talk to them more openly. It can be a very lonely road and it doesn’t have to be this way!
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO LIVE SO FAR FROM YOUR FAMILIES? HOW DO YOU COMPARE LIFE IN THE US vs PAKISTAN? This is a tough one. I never knew when I moved that as the years went by it will break my heart even more in some ways. Thankfully, I’ve been able to go back every year because I happily choose going to Pakistan over things on my wish-list like the home upgrades & the vacations I’d love to do. We do video call every day and stay very connected so I think distance doesn’t affect our relationships as such Alhamdullilah. I recently missed my sister’s wedding though and it hurt a lot. I don’t think one can fairly compare two countries so easily. Every place has positives and negatives and it’s just about what your priorities are at any given moment in time and how you make the most of your choices.
I’M VISITING SEATTLE, WHAT SHOULD WE DO? First, try to come during summer months when the weather is the prettiest. Or just be prepared for grey weather and constant drizzle. A few favorites : Pike Place Market for photos, flowers, handmade vendors/ Kerry Park for the view / Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum + Seattle Space Needle / Alki Beach / Pioneer Square + Occidental Square / Olympic Sculpture Park / Seattle Central Library for the architecture and photos / Snoqualmie Falls / For kids: Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center. // If you have time: Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, take a ferry to one of the WA – BC islands nearby. Food and more: Ivars / Hot Cakes / Lunchbox Laboratory / Happy Lemon / Beechers Handmade Cheese / Molly Moons / Starbucks Reserve Roastery/ Halal places to eat: Saffron Grill / Café Turko / Halal Guys / Burger Hut / Naan & Curry (Issaquah) / Afghan Cuisine (Bellevue). (More recommendations here)
I’M VISITING ISLAMABAD, WHAT SHOULD WE DO? Lok Virsa Heritage Museum for history at the museum + shopping for affordable artwork and decorative items, Pakistan Monument for views + history, Saidhpur Village, Shah Allah Ditta caves / Shopping: Saeed Book Bank & Oxford University Press for book shopping, Kayal for gifts & unique finds, Behbud for artisan made clothing + houseware + gifts, Generation for clothes, Khaadi Home for home items. Centaurus Mall, Maharaja Handicrafts for shawls, rugs and more. Places to eat: Monal restaurant for great views + a variety of food options, Asian Wok for Chinese food, Tuscany Courtyard for American food, OPTP for local fast food + fries, Chaye Khana & Chikachino for snacks & chai. Kids play areas: Fun City in Centaurus, Great Play. // If you have time : Make a trip to Nathia Gali.
WANT TO WORK WITH ME OR COLLABORATE?
Email is the best way to get in touch with me. You can reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on my website here if you have an idea for us to work together. If it’s something that I feel would fit well with my brand & blog, I would love to chat more. Connecting with other small businesses and creatives is my favorite thing! I hope you’ll understand sometime it can take a little longer to get back.