Skip to content

Interview with Summerana Resident Instructor Rachel Opdahl

Introducing Rachel Opdahl inside the Summerana Membership! We are lucky to have her as a resident instructor at Summerana, and we also got to sit her down for an interview.

“Hi there! I’m Rachel Opdahl. My passion for photography began when I was living overseas in a beautiful little country called Denmark. The thatch-roof cottages and awe-inspiring castles quickly caught my heart as I lived among the people there for almost 2 years. My ancestors surely loved it there, as I did. I grew to even love the language as it is music to my ears now.

But, now all I have to remember that short time in my life are the photographs I managed to get. So, the importance of preserving our memories was burnt into my soul as I pursued a Bachelor’s in Fine Art and Photography. My studies didn’t stop there though, because as many of you know, photography is constantly changing. The dark-room was replaced with the digital era and I couldn’t be happier! I owned the very first Canon Digital Rebel ya’ll! It got me through college and the beginning of my career.

I have dabbled with many types of portraits, including Weddings, Families, Children, Seniors, Pets, you name it. But, currently I seem to focus on Fine-Art and Couture Photography.

I have been a professional photographer, off and on, for 15+ years. What I get most out of my love for photography though is the fact that I can take these skills, which I have honed and practiced for years, and use them to capture the most wonderful moments of my very own children and loved ones. That is the best feeling ever. I remember how good it felt the first time I realized that I could pretty much produce anything I wanted, any vision I had in my head, if I kept practicing.

I have so much more to learn though, admittedly, and am constantly trying new things and trying to better my craft. I’m pretty sure I still learn something just about every-time I shoot. I love to teach and help others achieve their dreams as well. I am an open book and want to see you grow too! Come visit me and our West Coast beaches in Oregon anytime!”

If we asked your family, who are YOU, what would they say?

If you asked me, I’d say “Wife, Mother, Photographer. In that order”. ha But, I just turned and asked my 11yr old son this question and he replied, “I love how you always still tuck me in at night.” And then his younger brother chimed in said “And you let us play Fortnight!” So there is that.

What was your first year as a professional photographer like?
This is when I learned, the hard way, that if you don’t value your work, other people won’t either. Also, I had to learn to be patient with myself. Sometimes we think we can just snap our fingers and learn something overnight. Quality photography skills take time to cultivate. You have to be willing to put in the time it takes and be humble. I also learned that my family and friends will forgive me for taking such horrible photographs of them while I was still learning. 😉 I am always still learning though, so ….
How would you describe your photography style?
Fine-Art and Couture photography.

What are some techniques that members should look forward to learning from your resident instructor tutorials?
I hope to present the idea that “if you can envision it, you can make it happen.” The first time I felt that feeling was really empowering. When you feel like you can create a vision you have, in the way you envision it, it is very rewarding. There are so many ways to accomplish the same things, when it comes to photoshop especially. It is my goal to show you how to demystify seemingly impossible images. You want to know how I create a certain look? Let me show you how.

If you had unlimited funds and you could go anywhere in the world, what would your dream photoshoot look like?
I would go to that place where it looks like people are walking on water! Where is that? Seriously, I want to go. That or Africa. Oh man. Or China. Okay, there are a million places I want to photograph.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a photographer?
To be kind. Seriously. There are so many butt-head, self-aggrandizing photographers out there. Mean people suck.

If you could have dinner with 1 person (dead or alive) that made an impact on the photography industry, who would it be?
Hmm. There are many I admire, but wouldn’t want to have dinner with. lol But, I would probably say Dorothea Lange. Her “Migrant Mother” photo from the Great Depression stirred my heart in college. I believe this is what turned me toward photography. That photo still makes my heart burn every time I see it.

What inspires you to create?
A lot of things, I think. At times, when I see another artist create something magical, it inspires me. But more often than not, I yearn to freeze my children in time. I don’t want to let go of those fleeting moments. Sometimes I am just bored and yearn to be creative though.

Favorite Quote
One of my favorite scripture quotes from Matthew is “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This quote is really freeing to me. We shouldn’t hide our talents or be ashamed of them. We help and inspire those around us, when we let our own lights shine. Another favorite quote is “Just Do It.”

Watch me edit: 

Family Portrait – fine art editing workshop
Want to watch me edit this image in Photoshop from start to finish? It is available to watch in the Summerana Membership here.

In this editing tutorial, Summerana instructor Rachel Opdahl shows you her step-by-step process for an elegant family portrait fine art edit.


You will learn things such as:

  • How to retain highlights when back-lighting
  • Body and clothing re-shaping for smooth lines
  • Learn compositing and how to extend your background
  • Change clothing colors
  • How to color tone and reduce noise
  • Create a Creamy Matte Vignette
  • Skin contouring & Dodging and burning
  • Light & color manipulation
  • Create your own actions
  • Use of Everyday Essential actions from Summerana

and more… all through hand editing!


Rachel Opdahl
Opdahl Photography 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *