Chicagohenge 2017. An Ode to Chicago.

I tried my hardest to get to Chicagohenge last year but as it turned out, my Boudoir Day happened the same day and we ran late & I missed it. So, I made it a goal to see it this year and I may have been a day or so early (I'm not sure which exact date it was) but it was close enough for me!

What is Chicagohenge?? When the sun's rays and the city's grid align perfectly to create an enchanting wonder of light. This city is always beautiful to me, but this was astonishing to watch! I walked all over the north Loop, looking for what I thought would be a great spot to see it and ended up at the corner of State Street and Randolph with the Oriental Theatre directly in view. I was shooting and dodging traffic, waiting for the sun to do its' dance, and suddenly it inched its way around a towering building and it took my breath away. See my Instagram shot that I grabbed with my phone to see some sun flare trail. Below are just a few of my favorites from the evening. Next year I'll find a different spot and bring a model along and see what I get! You know I love a pretty photo but let's get a human(s) in there and I'll melt! 

Speaking of melting... I have never been so in love with a city in my life. Excuse me while I get a bit philosophical. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and that we are meant to be where we're at in life, but I can't help but wish I'd moved here sooner. Although, had I done that, I may not have experienced it or appreciated it the way I am now. Chicago, I love you and how you've opened my heart & helped me feel more alive than ever.

Merchandise Mart looking glorious in that delicious golden light. The L went by at the right moment. 

Merchandise Mart looking glorious in that delicious golden light. The L went by at the right moment. 

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I love a good reflection!

I love a good reflection!

Be still my heart.

Be still my heart.

Girls and the Goats

I had a quick photo shoot with my nieces and some friendly baby goats when I was last in Wisconsin. It was the hardest thing I've ever photographed! A sick baby, an un-napped baby, two uninterested girls and some jumpy baby goats made for a huge challenge! But I still love these photos and have now fallen in love with goats. 

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Baby Charlotte has arrived!

One of my oldest, dearest friends of all time had a baby last week and I headed to the hospital to photograph her when she was two days new. I was ecstatic to head to the hospital for her newborn hospital photos and I'm so excited to introduce Miss Charlotte Grace, welcomed with love by her adoring mom, dad and big sister. 

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A Morning in Chicago

A while back, I spent the morning of a beautiful summer day exploring downtown Chicago, scouting for locations for portrait sessions. I made it a point to take my camera with me because whenever I'm in the loop, I never have it and I always regret it! I took some of the pretty shots that make Chicago shine but when I was going through them, my favorites were the ones with people. I have a soft spot for street photography but I hate being observed and have a tough time being discreet so it's tricky for me! Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of my favorite photographers who excelled not only at street photography, but in documenting a decisive moment. His work is so inspiring to me and makes me strive to really observe and wait for moments to happen. He is definitely someone on my list of "People I'd like to have dinner with (dead or alive)."

I had been meaning to check out the Chicago Cultural Center for months so I made a quick stop inside to see how beautiful it is. It did not disappoint. It's right across from Millennium Park and it definitely is gorgeous. There was a music concert going on as well as several art exhibits and I'd recommend checking it out. Plus, it's FREE! 

Here's a glimpse of Chicago, from my eyes. I think it's pretty majestic and I am in awe every day of this lovely city.

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Bubble Run!

My sister and all of her little ladies participated in the Bubble Run back when I was in Madison this summer. I went to watch them (even though it meant crawling out of bed way before I usually rise!) and you just know I had to bring my camera. I had no idea what to expect, but was enamored by the whole thing! I thought I'd just grab a few photos of my family finishing the race but I had a blast taking photos of different parts of it. It was fascinating to me, but my younger nieces hated it and I couldn't help but think it was a little funny. To be fair, though, the bubbles were higher than them! At the finish there was a DJ and a "cannon" of bubbles that people could dance around in. Those ended up being my favorite photos, watching the girls be wild and free. Summer at its finest. 

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My nieces. Avianna didn't love it!

My nieces. Avianna didn't love it!

That's my sister and she's pushing a stroller under alllllll of those bubbles!

That's my sister and she's pushing a stroller under alllllll of those bubbles!

Peek-a-boo! Look who was under that blanket of bubbles and was clearly thrilled!

Peek-a-boo! Look who was under that blanket of bubbles and was clearly thrilled!

Aurelia hated every part of this morning! 

Aurelia hated every part of this morning! 

Wray bubblers unite.

Wray bubblers unite.

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Favorite photo! She looks SO happy!

Favorite photo! She looks SO happy!

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I normally prefer portrait sessions over event photography, but after photographing a 5k earlier this year and taking these photos at the Bubble Run, I have to say that races are extremely fun to document. There's so much energy, emotion and positivity and I get caught up in all of it. 

Autumn - Class of 2018

Meet Autumn, one of the most kind and thoughtful seniors I've ever photographed. Oh, and she's stunning and has a smile that can light up a room! I photographed her brother two years ago and she was along for the ride that day and was already excited about her senior photos back then. I just knew we were going to have a blast for hers and she came prepared with balloons, bubbles, glitter and outfits galore! I had so much fun getting to know you, Autumn, and can't wait to hear what you do in the world. Best of luck, sweet girl!

Will - Class of 2018

Meet Will! I photographed his older sister Claire a few years ago (before I was even blogging!) and her session was one of my favorites that year. So, I was excited when I got to meet Will and saw they had the same smile! We photographed at the Memorial Union Terrace at UW Madison, one of my favorite spots to shoot in Madison because it's so diverse! You have Lake Mendota, of course, but also the fun chairs & hanging lights, the ivy-covered walls of the old buildings, columns, boats, and even a wooded path. OH! And my favorite spot: the beautiful glass wall inside the Union (and maybe Will's too since it was A/C inside and a relief from the heat!) 

This is the very same wall we took his sister's photo on and we did this as a half-joke to semi recreate hers but I LOVE it! Love this glass wall even more than I did before! 

Best of luck to you, Will! May you chase your dreams and never stop enjoying life.


Sweet session at Heritage Bicycle

When I first moved to Chicago, I quickly discovered that one of my favorite things to do in the city was find unique coffee shops every time I was in a new neighborhood. Not only did it help fuel my coffee addiction, I got to know my way around the city pretty well based on coffee shop locations! However, this little gem - Heritage Bicycle - is in the neighborhood directly next door to mine and I've read about it, but still had not made it in here. Until now! For this adorable, laughter-filled session. Elizabeth and TJ mentioned that this is one of their favorite spots to go to on a relaxing weekend and I knew I had to document them in it! I fell in love with this coffee shop and I fell in love with Beth & TJ. They make each other (and me, honestly) laugh, they're both incredibly thoughtful, real, silly and so genuine. I had the best time getting to know them on a hot summer night in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood. Thank you both for humoring me with this collaboration and for laughing all the way. And thank you to Heritage, for being so delightful and accommodating. PS. Their coffee, and iced tea, is amazing! Check them out if you're in the area. 

My favorite!

My favorite!

Skyler is ONE!

Holy toledo, where in the world did time go?! Seems like just yesterday this spunky girl was born! I love her to pieces and am so glad I got to spend her first birthday with her. My sister and brother-in-law have quite the beautiful character on their hands. She's been noisy since she came out of the womb and she's only getting louder! So much to say and she can't even talk yet. And don't get me started on how she does not stop moving. Ever! This girl is going to rule the world!  

Can I also just gush about the light on the farm for the family part of the photos?! WOW! We waited out a mini rain surge that night just before we started and got the most beautiful light and glistening grass. So worth the wait & wet feet.

Best buds.

Best buds.

They were having a contest to see who's loudest!

They were having a contest to see who's loudest!

Those eyes!

Those eyes!

I love the grass on her feet! Total farm girl! 

I love the grass on her feet! Total farm girl! 

She's smiling at her cows, not me!

She's smiling at her cows, not me!

My Wrays of Sunshine

My adorable nieces! I've been photographing these cuties for a long time and these are some of my favorite images I've ever taken of them. They're growing into such beautiful young ladies so very quickly. Makes my heart a wee bit sad because they're not snuggly babies anymore but it sure is fun being Auntie Coney to my sweet Wray girls. Especially when we have trampoline fun and slumber parties! One of my favorite parts of going back home is walking in the door to squeals and big hugs from these cuties. Love you so much Mataya, Avianna, Aurelia and Ansleigh! 

She wasn't having any of it.

She wasn't having any of it.

Erin and her Getting Ready Story

My sweet, beautiful friend Erin asked me if I would swing by her hotel last week before she got married(!!!) so I could take some photos of her details. If you know me, you know details are my absolute faaaaaaaaaaaaavorite thing to photograph; especially wedding details. The prettier the better. The sparklier the better. The blingy-er the better. I just made up words to prove a point - you get the idea! I showed up to a hotel room at The Langham and was greeted with squeals of delight from all of the girls and a giant hug from Erin. Her girls and her mom all surrounded her and the love and excitement was just infectious. I mean, I was so thrilled for Erin before arriving, but after spending the morning with this crew, I was excited beyond words. Erin's posse is legit! And her MOM... You can just see the pride beaming out of this woman for her daughter. Not gonna' lie, my eyes were welling up in the room with them and did so again while culling through my photos. These photos are some of my favorite wedding moments I've ever captured and I've done this a lot! Enough talking, let the photos speak for themselves!

I'm so excited to share these with you all and am so honored, Erin, that you asked me to document your special morning for you. I love every detail that you put into this wedding almost as much as I love you and Kevin! I'm so happy for you both and I hope this helps cure your post-wedding withdrawals! I can't wait to see the photos from the rest of your perfect day! Congratulations!

XOXO

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The Counts Family

I went back to Wisconsin recently for a nice, long getaway. While I was there, I filled my days up with photographing clients, family and some of my very best friends. (Prepare to be bombarded with upcoming blog posts with all of the peeks I've got for you!) While I worked a lot this trip, (which isn't really work because I love it so much!) I did have some down time also! Many lunch, coffee, margarita & dinner dates, exploring my old city, a birthday party and just a lot of visiting. Oh, and don't forget the dog & niece snuggling! After 5 days in Madison, Sun Prairie & my sister's farm, I headed to my parents' house and snuggled with my dog for 3 days straight! It was such a wonderful trip home.

This family right here is one of my favorite little families in my world. Bridget is one of my very best friends and I've photographed her wedding day, when her and Chad welcomed their fur baby Dusty into their lives and now their baby Cece, who isn't really a baby anymore! 

We took some photos in downtown Sun Prairie and at their home. I had such a great time catching up with these wonderful people and I love love love their little family. Cece is so lucky to have these guys as her parents!

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Happy 9 months, Miss Cecelia! I really miss living down the street from you guys and walking the dogs together!  

LeaAnne & Raj

You may remember Calvin from when he had his birthday a few months ago... he's back but this time with his humans! I spent an evening recently with LeaAnne, Raj and of course Calvin to capture their sweet little family. I loved hanging out with them, dodging rain drops, the breath-taking views, drinking wine and the sunset that had me in awe that evening! I love the way LeaAnne & Raj look at each other and make each other laugh & the moments between them are so sweet. I'm so in love with their images and couldn't narrow them down any further to these. I hope you enjoy them also!

Warning: A Whole Lotta' Adorableness Below!

A few weekends ago I photographed a 5k for PAWS at Montrose Harbor. Check out some of my favorites of the 1,000+ dogs that were there! If you know me, you won't be shocked to hear that I wanted to take them allllllll home with me! I resisted, though, and figured the owners of all of these dogs would not be thrilled with my idea. Nor would my landlords... Anyway, let the tails do the talking from now on and see these cuties below!

Shannon & Brian - Anniversary Session

My dear, sweet & adorable friends are close to celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary! Before they got married last summer, they lived in separate cities and were long-distance. They got married in Missouri but immediately after, Shannon moved here to Chicago with Brian to officially start their married lives together. These photos are to celebrate their anniversary and to document their love in Chicago. The second I got out of the car at their apartment, this wall is the first thing I saw and told them we MUST do some photos here first!

Isn't Shannon SO beautiful?! The best part is that she's JUST as beautiful inside. She's one of my favorite people! 

Isn't Shannon SO beautiful?! The best part is that she's JUST as beautiful inside. She's one of my favorite people! 

We took a Lyft down to the Planetarium and we couldn't get close to our destination because of the U2 concert going on! We had to walk quite a ways, but we found a few spots along the way to take some photos. This grove of birch trees had the PERFECT light!

Found another spot!

Made it to the Planetarium just in time for some beautiful light, right upon sunset!

I LOVE how much these guys laugh together!

I LOVE how much these guys laugh together!

Quick impromptu dance party to the Lumineers playing across the way at Soldier Field for U2!

Quick impromptu dance party to the Lumineers playing across the way at Soldier Field for U2!

My favorite.

My favorite.

My other favorite.

My other favorite.

Oh, and this one too! Who am I kidding, they're all my favorite!

Oh, and this one too! Who am I kidding, they're all my favorite!

I was adjusting my light and told them it was a test and this is what I got! It's an outtake but I just love how silly they are.

After we wrapped up at the Planetarium and I had claimed The End, we walked toward Lake Shore Drive to try and get a Lyft. Walking through Museum Campus, I saw this view and made them stop for "one more" and I'm so glad they humored me! 

Shannon & Brian, thank you SO much for having me document your Chicago love! I adore you both and love how much you love each other and the people in your lives. 

We asked a passerby to take a photo of the three of us and the girl thought we were taking prom photos! 

We asked a passerby to take a photo of the three of us and the girl thought we were taking prom photos! 

A Day for Moms

Happy Mother's Day! I'm thankful for my own mom, first of all, for letting me be whatever I wanted to be and for always being there for me. While getting this post together, I realized that I don't have any recent photos of the two of us so here she is below with her beloved grand babies. Love you Mom!

My own two sisters are also moms now and I watch them in awe as they go down the path of motherhood. My nieces are being molded by two of the strongest women I know and I see so much of my sisters in all of them. Girl power in this family, all the way! Happy Mother's Day Lindsey & Hilary!

Here are some of my favorite client mom and mom-to-be moments from over the years. I truly adore snuggle moments and the times you think I'm not clicking the shutter. Nothing makes my heart sing louder than moments between moms and their children and I love that I get to document such amazing women in my world. 

I hope this post will help some moms avoid saying no to being in photos with their children. So often I hear moms say they only want their children photographed and I die a little inside each time I hear it. You're beautiful exactly as you are and you deserve to be in photos with your children! Your children will appreciate it SO much when they're older and they won't even notice how sleepy you think you look. They'll just be looking at you laughing/snuggling/smiling with them and seeing just how much you love them!

Although I'm not a mom to tiny humans, I am a mom to a four-legged geriatric pooch whom I love and adore as if she were a human child. 

Emmie Lou - age 10

Emmie Lou - age 10

Here's to all the moms (in every sense) in the world, including my fellow dog moms! 

Flowers for Dreams

If you know me, you know how much I LOVE fresh flowers. And pretty packaging. Put them together and I'm sold. Flowers filling the bed of a vintage pickup truck? Are you kidding me?! So when I photographed the Vintage Garage show last weekend and there were Flowers for Dreams mini bouquets there from the EBTH booth, I felt like I myself was in a dream! Of course, I had to go home with a sweet, tiny bouquet to make my home a bit more cheerful.

I have seen Flowers for Dreams around the city a few times and have seen some Instagram photos but otherwise I'm not all that familiar with them. I did a little digging and am impressed with their story. Check them out; I'm thinking a subscription of flowers would be a marvelous gift for someone lovely in my life. And it's almost Mother's Day! 

Sunshine & Relaxation

Last month I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Ft. Lauderdale with some incredible girlfriends. While packing for the trip, I made sure I threw my camera in my suitcase or knew I'd regret it otherwise. I limited myself to one lens and left the speedlights behind. Less was more because I knew myself and knew that I wouldn't use it all. And creatively, it forces me to take a minimalist approach and work with what I've got. It's a challenge! 

However, I took a lot of photos but aside from my phone, I only took my pro camera out one time because I was too busy enjoying my relaxation time! It was a good reminder for me to just live in the moment and not worry about getting a photo of every beautiful thing I observed. I was able to be present, take it all in and just enjoy what was happening around me with the great company I was with. Sometimes it's nice to just take a real break from everything, including my camera.

The few images I did take were on the beach before all of the spring-breakers bombarded the sandy gloriousness with their fraternity flags and plastic jugs full of Kool-Aid-looking liquid. 

Spring IS coming!

It feels as though we're going backwards in seasons here in Chicago! It's been SO gloomy, rainy, cold and just plain gross out for what seems like weeks. So when I had a boudoir session this past weekend and the sun decided to shine for the afternoon AND my client had fresh spring flowers, my heart exploded! 

PAWS Animal Magnetism

Last week I photographed an event for PAWS, an organization that I hold dear to my heart! If you've never heard of them, go here and read about this wonderful no-kill animal shelter here in Chicago. I started volunteering for them about a year ago when I moved here and couldn't bring my dog with me. Don't worry, she's in good hands back in WI with my mom and dad but I was missing her like crazy. I started volunteering for selfish reasons to get my dog fix, but it quickly turned into something more powerful. Every single time I go there, I cry. Every. Single. Time. It's so heart-breaking to hear some of the stories that these innocent dogs have gone through and I want to bring every one of them home when I'm there. Those dogs have done way for me than I ever could for them and I get extremely happy (and cry happy tears, of course) when they get adopted! I haven't been able to volunteer much lately because of my schedule, so being able to photograph for them was an honor. The event I photographed was called Animal Magnetism and it was SO much fun! Head here to see more photos from the event and read about how you can help.

Below are some of my favorite photos from the night, including the flowers and details of the building. PAWS left no detail untouched. If you know me, you know how much I LOOOOOOVE fresh flowers. Oh, and sharp-dressed dogs! What a wonderful evening.  

It took place at Morgan Manufacturing in the Fulton Market District in Chicago and it is a photographer's dream! Exposed brick walls, fun light fixtures, cool blue lighting on the stairs, walls made of glass blocks behind the bar and the view from the second floor is pretty incredible. Even the ladies' room was covered head to toe in detail. If I had to guess, I'd say the men's room did not disappoint but you'll have to check for yourself! If your'e looking for a venue for an event like a wedding, I'd recommend it. And I'd recommend you have me photograph it!