Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kara and Gail

You get that phone call.  The one that instantaneously leaves your knees feeling weak and you questioning if this could actually be happening.  It hits you out of no where.  And you're left to think.
To question why.  To realize how precious life is.  And how short.  And to throw it all out there with God.  The good, the bad and the ugly...
And somewhere in that whirlwind, you start to see more clearly.  You realize what matters.  You know in your gut that there's hope and that kind of hope can change the world.  You realize that God is there.  Listening.  Aching with you.  Walking every step right with you.  And He isn't just there to comfort.  He's there to work.  And to do crazy amazing things.  And bring lives even closer together.

It's at these times you realize some of the most important things in life.  Creating memories.  Living to the full. 
And pictures, to hold in your hand or hang on your wall.  To remember.  To laugh at that moment again.  To create new memories.  To document that bond.  To look and see that you survived that.  To capture those emotions instead of just holding them back.
When Kara emailed me, tears formed in the corners of my eyes.  She wrote that her mom had just been diagnosed with cancer.  She knew her mom would fight it.  But this made her realize how important it was to have pictures.  Just the two of them.  To remember.  To laugh.  And to see the beauty in even this moment.
After I finished reading, I was full-on wiping away tears.  This.  This is why I wake up and I can't believe this is my "job."  I get to be a part of beautiful moments like this.  Of mothers and daughters who will walk through anything together.  Of composing images that take my breath away because of the beauty of the people in them.  Of being entrusted with such a precious moment.

Kara and Gail, I don't have words.  You two are so precious to me.  Kara, thank you for thinking of this.  And for inviting me to be a part of it all.  You probably know, but I'll say it again, I positively adore you.  And Gail, thank you for sharing this part of your journey with me.  And thank you for sharing your faith in all of this.  I cherish my time with you guys so much.

And one other thank you to the AMAZING Nicole Roby.  Thank you for giving up the day after your birthday celebration to bring your unbelievable make-up artistry to these two.  Sure you had gorgeous ladies to work with - but girl, I nearly fell over when you were finished.  Thank you, Nicole!  (And yes, any future clients out there - you simply must use her.  I'll be talking about her more soon...)

So without further ado, meet Kara and Gail as they got ready with the ever-so-awesome Nicole...
(And if you'd like to see more from their session, just check out their SLIDE-SHOW)

Did I mention that Gail is stunning?  Because it's a true story.

And her daughter, Kara?  Oh.my.goodness.  Hello and welcome to STUNNING.

Kara was so wonderful and agreed to find some old things she had made her mom back in the day.  So great!

I adore these two.

I made them do a staring contest.  Of course, they made it ridiculously cute.


To see more from their session, check out their SLIDE-SHOW.  And yes, the music is courtesy of the amazing Devin Bustin

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to take better pictures of your kids - or at least my ideas

I've been MIA.
Life has been...well, crazy.  Curve balls and all sorts of fun.
So, I promise, I'll be back.  With pictures and everything.  But in the meantime, for all you moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and picture-taking people, I thought I'd share an article I wrote a while ago for Dupage Mamas about taking better pictures of your kids.  Maybe it will be helpful for someone out there!

Here you go:

They’re adorable. Ridiculously so. And you just want to capture the precious moment that is unfolding before your eyes. So you grab your camera and you press freeze (AKA: shutter button) hoping to remember this forever.
You excitedly press the playback button. You look at the photo, but somehow it’s not quite as great as what you had seen before pressing the shutter.
I totally understand.  That’s actually how I started in photography.
So today I want to give you a few tips for how to take better pictures of your precious little ones.

1. Turn off your flash
I know. It automatically turns on with your camera.  And who can forget your best friend – red-eye reduction? (Which may have given some of our poor children nightmares…)  I’m telling you. Turn it off. There are some instances where you may not be able to get around it, but whenever possible, find another way to grab light.
Here’s some possibilities…
Natural light:  It’s got it going on.  It’s yummy and when there’s enough of it, it can lead to images that melt hearts. And it is way better than anything our cameras put out.  So become friends with your windows. (Besides – I could always use motivation to actually clean mine…) Or shoot  outdoors. Just keep in mind that too much of a good thing won’t work out so well. So if it’s noon and the sun is blaring down and your in an open field – you’re probably going to get a harsh picture with squinting subjects.
(side note: garage light ROCKS. Open up your garage, turn off your flash, hang up a black sheet or a white one and see how wonderful the light can be. Added bonus: it might motivate you to clean your garage!)
Grab a lamp:  Sometimes it’s dark. And there’s just no getting around it. (Especially here around Chicago where it likes to stay gray for weeks at a time in the middle of winter…not that I'm bitter...)  Just grab a lamp. Especially those ones that have a spotlight head you can move or bend. Play around and see if by using that steady light you can get a better picture than if you blinded your poor child with the flash.

2. Move in closer
Chances are you’ll be starting out on your kid(s). I am now giving you an excuse to get even closer to them.  The truth is, sometimes those moments get lost because we’re too far away and the scene clutters the picture so we get distracted from all the cute our kids have going on. So move in. Closer than you think. Try it out. See what happens…

3. Know your subject
One of the best tips in motherhood works really well for photos too: Study your subject!  Learn what time they’re at their happiest. Chances are – that will make for the best time for pictures. Make sure they’re well fed. And watch how they play. You’ll find that you’ll sometimes be able to predict when they are on the verge of doing something hilarious and you’ll know right when to press the shutter button


Here’s an example from my little man. I took him beside the big window we have upstairs and started playing with him. (natural light!) I was within tickling reach of him (moved in close) and I knew he makes the most adorable face ever when he “growls.” So after getting set up, I just played with him and got him growling. I snapped the shutter and this is what I got. And I love it. And him…

So there are some tips to get you started. The main thing is keep trying and keep learning! And if you have any questions or are looking for more helpful books/websites, feel free to contact me. And of course, if you’d like some pictures that you are actually IN, I love capturing the beauty of families and telling their stories.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2 years

He has this deep belly laugh that transforms me into a pile of mush.
He sometimes yells out "Happy No Toes!"  And we have no idea why, but we've all adopted it into our everyday conversation.
He buries his head into the bend in my neck and as I wrap my arms around him, I know life is all about moments like this.
He counts to ten...without ever mentioning the number 7.  Although he does pronounce 6 as "sicky".  So maybe he thinks it's okay.

Little man - you have stolen my heart.  And if it's okay with you, I'll keep you forever. 

Happy birthday.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nicole and Spencer

Her friend had already made her aware of the oh-so-cute guy that worked at her building.  That match-making friend was convinced they would be perfect for each other.
Too bad that the first time Nicole met Spencer, she didn’t even notice him.  He would add (with a mischievous smile on his face) – she was kind of rude.
To know Nicole is to know the exact opposite.  She values people.  She makes them feel welcome.  And loved.  And she has no recollection of said event. 
But sometimes in life we’re given a second chance.
A few weeks later, she found an issue in her apartment.  She called to send someone to fix it.  Soon after, that oh-so-cute guy was knocking at her door and Nicole couldn’t help but notice. 
After that meeting a spark had started.  That led to him offering to help her move.  That led to hour long conversations.  That led to a relationship.  That led to a precious little man named Cameron.  That led to the realization that they wanted all of their days to be spent together.  Loving, laughing and recalling first impressions gone wrong.  And next year these two will pledge themselves to each other.  And thank God for apartments in need of repair.

Nicole and Spencer, I love you two.  (And Cam…)  It has been SUCH a privilege to watch your relationship grow and develop.  And I’m not going to lie – I totally teared up when I heard that Spencer had proposed.  Because you two have that love – that beautiful kind of love that reminds this world that there is so.much.good.  Thank you for inspiring me.  For sharing life with me.  And for being so incredibly wonderful.  All.the.time…

And Nicole – happy birthday…  I’m so glad that you were born!

For a slide-show of pictures from our session, just go HERE.  And the music?  You guessed it - the incredibly talented Devin Bustin.  And yes, do yourself a favor and check out his original music.

Just so you know...these two brought it

I almost melted from extreme amounts of cuteness.

Nicole, gosh you are gorgeous.  And of course Spencer brought the studly.


I warned her to make sure the water didn't go up her nose.  I try to help.

Please, you simply MUST note these SHOES.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Oh so fierce.

Love these shoes.  I cannot wait for her wedding day...

Oh my goodness..

Again with Nicole bein' all stunning.

Spencer - seriously.  Wow.

One of my faves.

I love this beyond measure.

Again, if you'd like to see more pictures, check out their slide-show!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jillian and Rob: Engagement Session

She was beautiful.
And personable.
And she was one of those people that made the room light up when she smiled.  (Don't get me started on her gorgeous smile.  Just wait - you'll see)  She was all things wonderful.
He sat in the interview – and he knew: this girl was one of a kind.
It was an easy choice. 
The restaurant needed her.  She had the job.
The not so easy choice?
After months of working together and realizing that he was already falling for her…did he admit it?  Did he risk his job?
There’s one thing you know after spending time with Rob.  He knows the right time to risk it all.  And he’d probably say it was an easy choice.  She was worth it.
And Jillian?
She started to fall for Rob.
And they started a relationship that was worth the risk.  And in a few months they will declare in front of a close group of family and friends that it was the best risk they’ve ever taken.  And they will continue to risk everything for this love.  For ever.

Jillian and Rob, you two are beyond wonderful.  I could not be more excited/honored to be there to document your wedding day.  I'm so excited.  And Rob, I promise not to call you "buddy" on your wedding day.  Please forgive my social awkwardness.  Somehow you two still managed to rock out our shoot.

And of course, if you'd like to see more of their engagement pictures, just click HERE for their slide-show.  And of course, the music is the ever-so-talented, soon-to-release her album, Andrea Bustin.

Okay.  Here it is.  One of many shots that turn me into mush every time.



This is probably one of the times I called Rob "Buddy" and he couldn't help but laugh at my awkwardness.


Um.  Hello and welcome to stunning.

They are just this gorgeous.

I LOVE this. 

Wow.  Double wow.

Again if you'd like to see more from their engagement session just click HERE for their slide-show.  And thanks to Andrea Bustin for the gorgeous vocal stylings.