Job Loss, Coronavirus, Derecho

Wow. Things got a little crazy the last few years!!

Dec. 31st, 2019 was my last day working at my regular full-time job. I had been there 16+ years and they no longer needed me, so time to move on to bigger and better things.

It was now time to delve into photography full-time! (I’ve been working at it part-time since 2011).

I was marketing, planning, photographing, calling past clients, etc. – and then the Coronavirus snuck it’s way into our lives and wreaked havoc!

What a change from our regular lives; and for so many — serious heartbreak and loss. I’ve suffered some devastating loss in the last few years and understand how losing someone who means so much to you can feel like your heart has literally been ripped apart. Not being able to be with them at the hospital, hold their hands and grieve properly with family and friends, has got to be almost unbearable for so many this past year. I am so sad about the pain this virus has caused.

From March until the end of June — I was photographing zero clients (although my dog and cats got some extra time in front of the camera) and hanging out at my house with nowhere to go and nothing to do. But we were healthy and happy and we counted our blessings every day.

To combat the boredom and to keep my business in the minds of my clients I started posting to Instagram every day. I posted images from long ago past sessions and that was actually a blast. Digging through old archives and discovering images I had forgotten about or hadn’t shared before was very nostalgic and quite healing for me. But of course it made me miss photographing my clients even more. But it also made me appreciate photography even more. And ESPECIALLY appreciate my clients!

I started photographing again when restrictions were lifted (end of June I believe) and oh how I had missed it!!!

I’m so appreciative to past clients who found me again – and who also sent new clients my way. I had more referrals last year than any past year and I want to thank you all!!!

I was back in the full swing of things when in August we were hit with a Derecho (a term I had NEVER heard before). We were much luckier than many of our neighbors (who ended up with holes in their roofs!). We had a few broken windows, some serious dings and discoloration in our siding, and lots of damage to our trees (this made me so sad). The city even decided to chop down our beloved Maple tree in our front yard (deemed too damaged to recover).

Most of all though, we were grateful. Grateful to have had some amazing neighbors who helped with cleanup, grateful to have family and friends volunteer to help, grateful that our family was safe. We were without electricity for 10 days and as long as I can remember being alive I had never been without electricity for that long before, but we were safe and secure.

Our internet was down for two months. It’s a little crazy how much being without internet can be so upsetting!

During all of the turmoil of last year I continued to have people call/email/message me to set up session times and I just want to say how incredibly thankful I am that amidst all of the chaos of last year so many of you understood how important portraits are, and chose me to be the one to deliver those portraits to you.

Here are just a few images taken in 2020. Thank you all!

Dylan – Class of 2020 – Linn-Mar High School

Dylan’s mom saw some basketball images I created of a friend of his and she called me the next morning to schedule a session for Dylan! I’m so glad she did. We had an amazing time and created some “Wow” images for Dylan.

Once again – I am truly lucky when it comes to clients. Dylan was so cooperative and I was impressed with his positive outlook!

First a few images highlighting him as a football player.


And then some favorite basketball images of Dylan in the Linn-Mar gym. We had a little fun with posing and dramatic lighting!


I also created a collage for him. I have a sample of it hanging in my office – it’s 10×30 inches and printed on metal. You’ll see it when you come for your consultation meeting. He looks amazing!


If you are a 2021 senior and looking for a senior experience that highlights the “True You” – check out the TruYou Photography website for more information. Now booking for July-November!

Be sure to check out TruYou on the website, facebook and instagram.

Thanks for stopping by!


TruBeauty Session – for a True Beauty

Every once in awhile I like to offer up a complimentary TruBeauty session. Sometimes I ask for nominations — sometimes I ask for referrals — just whatever I think is a good idea at the time.

So I posted that I wanted to offer a session and asked for nominations a few months ago. I received several replies and it was really hard to narrow it down to the most deserving! So I narrowed it down to four – and then did a drawing.

Thea was the winner and OMG – she was so much fun and her images are gorgeous!

First she started her day of pampering with hair and makeup at Inspirations Salon & Spa. Tara is my go-to for this and she does an amazing job and I love working with her!

A few shots taken at Inspirations:


And now to show off Thea’s True Beauty – enhanced a little with fancy hair, makeup and clothing!





When you come for a TruBeauty session you don’t have to know what you’re going to wear – or even bring anything extra. The dress Thea is wearing in the top image is hers. In another image – she simply has on a blank cami and I supplied the lacy piece that covers her shoulders and arms. She also wore a teal blue dress from the TruYou client closet, and some tulle that was used to soften up her arms (I LOVE tulle!). TruYou also has jewelry to match most any outfit!

I think she enjoyed the experience because that same evening she posted this on her facebook page (it moved me to tears – this is why I think EVERY woman deserves to celebrate her beauty with a session just like Thea’s):

“So a dear friend nominated me for a contest of pampering and photos and guess what? I won! I never ever believe I’m worthy of any pampering and I am 100% NOT comfortable on the other side of the lens (props to all my clients I bend, twist, and make uncomfortable during photo shoots…I get it now), but today, Mariellen Youngdahl spent an afternoon capturing photos of me after a fun hair and makeup session.

I gave her lots of grief, was so NOT confident, but on my ride home, I told myself this…my kids think I’m beautiful. My kids love me no matter my size, my shape, or how big my face or my belly is. It’s my heart and soul they love. And this is THEIR image of THEIR momma. So sure, I’ve have been smaller, thinner, and less thick in my life, but in this moment, right now, In my crazy, busy life-this is me. I’m a mommy of 3. This body has carried 3 humans. This body has fed, nurtured and cuddled her babies. This body hasn’t slept well in 13 years. This body gives to her family, her friends, her clients and her patients.

I choose to embrace it for today. Tomorrow may not come. My advice to you….make the memory. Some day, a long LOOOONG time from now, there will be souls that say “THIS is my grandma, great grandma, great-great grandma.”  Make the memory….”


If you’re interested in booking your own TruBeauty session – give me a call – 319.210.5183 or email

I also now offer TruBeauty Boudoir and you can even book a 1/2-TruBeauty/1/2-Boudoir Session if you’d like!

You deserve it. And your family loves you and wants memories of you!

Check out the TruYou Photography website for a gallery of beautiful TruBeauty images.

Be sure to also check out TruYou on facebook and instagram.

Thanks for stopping by!


Complimentary Prom Photos – 2020 Seniors – Marion/Cedar Rapids, IA Area

2020 Seniors – If your school cancels your prom this year because of Covid-19 — TruYou will be offering complimentary outdoor prom shoots to seniors from the local schools (Cedar Rapids/Marion area).

You can choose to be photographed individually or as a couple. This will be a mini session with you wearing your prom dress and/or tux or suit (10-15 minutes per person or couple) in an outdoor venue (to be determined). You will will be able to download (no cost to you) two digital images (photographer’s choice) via download from the TruYou website. They will be shareable and printable up to size 8×10″. Instructions on how to do that will be available before or at the session.

These mini sessions will take place at a date TBA – most likely in June.

Please fill out the the form below to add your name to the list! Time slots will be determined at a later date.

Gorgeous flowers