“’If you could sit across the table, having a cup of coffee with your adult great, great, great grandchild, what advice would you give them?”
Owner and operator of Braaten Productions, Rachel Braaten has been in the photography/video business since 1980, producing short commercials for websites, educational films, wedding and love story films, as well as athletic video resumes. Yet the most rewarding films, she discloses, are “capturing a lifelong story, with their own voice, photos and old films.”
Rachel’s passion for life-story films is the result of personal loss. Her mother, Evelyn Braaten, had a massive stroke at 73 years old, which left her unable to speak or write during the last three years of her life. “Sadly, many of her stories were untold and will eventually be forgotten,” says Rachel.
This left her with a desire to capture the stories of others, in their own words, adding photos and old films, along with cinematic soundtracks and favorite songs.
“Some worry what to say or coming up with the right words, but we make it [comfortable and relaxed], like sitting down with an old friend, and help you recall all those wonderful memories that will never be forgotten,” Rachel adds.
Having produced many memorial films, Rachel quotes families who say: “’They would've loved to have seen this.’” And with that being said, Rachel encourages people not to wait until they are in the late winter of their lives but in the autumn of their lives.
“I have come to realize this invention of a video camera is an actual time machine,” Rachel confides. “My greatest reward is having the opportunity to watch the expressions of my client when they view their life film. They often look at me with tears in their eyes and whisper, ‘Thank you.’”
Through her work as a videographer, Rachel has been able to give back to the community in other ways while utilizing her talents. “I've had the privilege to produce films for the amazing Leslie Mayne and her foundation, Permission to Start Dreaming, for returning soldiers with PTSD—Race for a Soldier, Swing for a Soldier and Pull for a Soldier.” Rachel has also done films for the Homestead Community, which provides hope and home for homeless youths in Tacoma.
Rachel moved to Gig Harbor 20 years ago, renting a little cabin near the Fox Island Bridge then purchasing a cozy home in the Sylvia Lake area in 2001. “I love the people, the quietness and the artistic environment that it offers,” she says. “Many artists need to be a little reclusive to tap into that creative source that our Creator gives us, and Gig Harbor-ites understand that.”
"The Pleasure of seeing glimpses of my life in living color, with my voice telling my story, is a priceless gift that I can pass on to generations present and future." - Alma Gray Martin, Gig Harbor
"I can't thank you enough for the kindness you showed to my Dad! He loves his ‘story’! I will treasure this for all my days!" - Anne Brandt, Fox Island