Portraits in Paris

When I found out my friend Brittany, of Brittany Marie Photography, was moving to Paris, France last fall I was a bit bummed because we had just gotten to know each other and she was second-shooting weddings with me & I adored her. But I knew she was moving for the best reasons and I was incredibly happy for her. We were sitting at Eva’s Cafe in Old Town, having coffee and saying our goodbyes before she left Chicago and she told me I should come visit. In my head I thought, “Yeah, sure, I should… Someday.” Then I realized that’s the kind of thing I ALWAYS tell myself and then never do! Paris, and in spring time, has always been a bucket list destination for me so I made it a personal goal to get to Paris before her visa was up. After all, how could I not go when I knew someone living there?!

I am happy to report that I went! And it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I have SO many photos it’s overwhelming, but I did get to see Brittany for a day and we took photos of each other for a bit in Paris. Here are a few of my favorite of her. I can’t stop smiling from these and will always cherish this trip. Isn’t she stunnnnnnnnnnnnning?! Not only is she gorgeous, but she’s also incredibly talented and has a heart of pure gold. If you’re in Paris, you must check her out.


When Should I Book My Lifestyle Newborn Session?

I get asked this question very often! Since I started focusing on lifestyle newborn photography sessions instead of sleepy-baby super-posed sessions, it's become a bit more relaxed in terms of how long we can wait to do photos after your baby has arrived. I still believe that the sooner we do your newborn photos the sleepier they tend to be, and the easier the session flows for mom and dad. However, I typically photograph newborns in their homes up to one month old. Every baby is different, of course, and it also depends on how early or late your baby made their debut. 


Newborns are best photographed between 4 and 14 days old.


Lifestyle Sessions -babies can be photographed up to one month old.


Pro tip: I recommend keeping the heat cranked in your home, or if it's summer turn the A/C off, during your in-home newborn session. 


As tempting as it may seem to be all about the baby at first, I believe it's not JUST about the baby! While I love nothing more than a super-adorable babe wrapped in a swaddle blanket with her hands on her cheeks, all cozy and cute, I think you must be in the photos too! This is a time that goes by SO fast and you're going to want to look back, when the moments may be a bit blurred. Your baby will love looking at the photos while growing up, and will greatly appreciate those photos when they are all grown up.


Chicago 3-Year Anniversary - What I Learned From Being Cracked Open

I’m sitting in a coffee shop called Sip of Hope in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, on the brink of my third anniversary of calling this city home. I can’t believe I just typed that and also cannot believe how it feels like I JUST got here. So much has changed and things are so different than I thought they would be from when I first moved here. This post really has nothing to do with my photography but more of a vulnerable post on how I ended up here. I’ve never exposed my heart as much as I’m about to do and I’m terrified, but not as terrified as I am of living an unauthentic life.

My heart is bursting, my eyes on the brink of over-flowing with ever-present happy tears about to spill onto my cheeks, and I’m full of gratitude for this moment. The premise of this coffee shop is “It’s OK to Not Be OK” and never has that been more fitting to me. I came here 3.5 years ago, but my official year 3 is in 3 days, and I was so hopeful for a fresh start. In hindsight, I was running from things that had left me feeling broken in Wisconsin. I was cracked open, lost, sad, empty and feeling hopeless before I moved here. Then I moved here, and to say it was hard is an understatement. So hard, despite my pretty Instagram feed. Exciting at first, yes, and new, beautiful, incredible & amazing. But it was challenging. Turns out I was still cracked open, lost, sad, empty and feeling hopeless - but in a city where I knew about 3 people, one of them being a toddler! Once the newness faded, the things I was running from eventually ended up catching up with me in full force and what did I want to do again? You got it - Run! Flee! Go back home to familiarity? Go somewhere new? I didn’t know but I knew in my heart that running didn’t seem right, and that I had to look DEEP within. Know what the best part about being cracked open is? That’s where all of the light gets in within. 

I was a small-town, afraid-of-everything girl that never took chances, always followed the rules (and other people) and lived for others’ approval before I moved here. I was always looking for someone or something else to fill me up. I remember turning 30 and waking up miserable, completely baffled as to why I was so unhappy. I left a comfortable but unfulfilling relationship I was in and started on the path of an unintentional mission of self-discovery. I was 30 and had NO idea who I was and why I did the things that I did or didn’t do. I didn’t realize those first few years of my 30’s would be trying to navigate discovering myself, by myself, and trying to find my place in the world doing what I finally figured out what I was born to do. I felt like a late-bloomer weirdo that didn’t belong anywhere! Can anyone else relate?! It wasn’t until my 33rd year, just before 34, that my soul was shattered to the core and I was jolted to life. I realized I had not been living, but just getting by. I kept getting stuck in the same comfortable & safe situations, but m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e, and I felt like I had to make a huge change in order to see some progress with my life and business. I thought a move to a bigger city was the answer so I went on a “city-tour” across the states to see where I wanted to go. I initially thought NYC would be the most exciting but eventually decided on Chicago (which wasn’t even on my radar) when I found out my baby sister was pregnant with her first baby. I didn’t want to be NYC-far for this, and from the rest of my family, so I packed up and headed to Chicago. 

I’ve spent the last few years searching. Searching mostly outside of me, and still looking for that validation and approval. Turns out, in the year of 2019 at the bottom of a dark hole, I came to the realization that the only person I ever needed that from was me. WOW. I had to let that sink in. It’s not a concept I hadn’t heard before, it just didn’t really settle into my heart and get cozy until the present. What I’ve discovered is way more golden than I ever could have hoped for. Which gives me even more hope for what’s ahead for me. I feel like I have grown and stretched myself so much more than I ever thought possible. 

People came into my life to teach me lessons; the good, the bad and especially the ugly. I’ve had to let go of people that I truly wanted to hold onto, and walk away from things that just weren’t a good fit for me and my future. Tough work for a recovering people-pleaser! Some of those lessons were repeated to me over and over and over until I was finally able to let go of the pain and recognize what I was supposed to learn from it. It’s like the Universe was clubbing me repeatedly in the form of relationship & life lessons, and often with the same textbook until I finally got it. There were days I wanted to give up, days that I just couldn’t grasp why I hurt so much. I used to feel shame in admitting this darkness within me, but when I bring light to it, the darkness isn’t so heavy and I have found that so many other people are going through something also.

If I’ve learned anything the last few years it’s that life is about growing and learning & I hope I never stop. Getting to know me, the real me, has been the greatest adventure of my life and I am so thankful for all of the heartbreak, loss, sadness and grief that it took to get me here. Life has a way of teaching you what you need to know, at exactly the right time.

I’m proud of me. I say it again to really reinforce to myself. I’m SO proud of me and that’s never been an easy thing to accept or admit out loud to anyone else. I am loving me, and my big gooey heart that feels EVERYTHING, and I’m learning to love the dark parts too. The beautiful girl that is love, that lives on sunshine, documenting moments and dancing. I don’t want to hide in the shadows of life anymore and I refuse to settle and live a life where I’m not lit up.

I said this had nothing to do with my photography but now as I’m reflecting, I guess it does in a way. I think by opening up my heart and being on this journey of finding myself, my work has grown and become stronger, just like me. It takes courage to shoot from the heart, and also to show your heart to the world. I have to put myself out there in order for people to be able to open up to me, and let me into their lives. For me, photography is all about relationships and trust. I guess that goes for life, too! When I’m shooting, I feel like I can conquer the world; I feel home.

I don’t think I have everything figured out; I think it’s a lifelong process of discovering & rediscovering yourself, and I’m learning to trust in the timing and the journey & believe that life is happening FOR me. But I’m absolutely certain I am where I belong. I’m grateful for every experience (even the bad) and every person (especially the hurtful) that has brought me to me.

I hope that if you’re still reading this far, that maybe I can inspire or be the kick in the pants that you need to follow your own dreams. And that you can be proud of you too. It’s really OK to not be OK, and to have dark times. It’s the getting through those times and finding the golden moments of truth that make us stronger.



I mentioned Sip of Hope above and you should check them out. They’re the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of proceeds support proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. Something we need more of in this world. Hang in there, friends. We’re all in this together.

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{All cell phone photos in this post}