Favorite Moments of 2017 - Year in Review

2017 was an amazing year for me and I'm so grateful for all of you for trusting me with your most precious/intimate/honest/real moments. I love what I do. For real. I get to document some of the most meaningful moments in people's lives. As well as the more "everyday moments" but I love every second of it. I like to do an end-of-year website update so I go through all of my sessions from the year and pick my favorites. It helps me see how far I've come, and how much I've grown. This year, I got out of my comfort zone. I took chances. I pushed myself to photograph from my heart; to photograph what spoke to me and to tell more honest stories. In addition to updating the website, I wanted to do a re-cap of the year, highlighting my favorite photos & moments but then this post got crazy long. If you know me, I couldn't narrow it down any further than what I've come up with and this isn't even all of it! So here goes. A selection of some of my favorite sessions, moments and personal treasures from all of last year. Druuuuuummmmmroooooooooolllllllllll, please.

I love love love love love LOVE so let's start with the beautiful couples! 

Photographed my beautiful friend getting ready on her wedding morning on a steamy July morning in Chicago at the Langham Hotel

I second-shot with Jennifer of Angelic Angles Photography for a beautiful Milwaukee wedding. We photographed the wedding party at Villa Terrace Museum and I was BLOWN away by the beauty. I can't wait to go back there and photograph! I really miss shooting with Jennifer. We used to be the dream team when I lived in Madison. She's amazing - seriously, the best.

Second-shot with Melissa Ferrara of Iron & Honey Photography this fall. So much fun to work with a fellow Chicago photographer.

Babies! So many friends had babies this year!! 

Boudoir - a few of the ones I can show!

I photographed a few events for PAWS. Also made some portraits of my friends' dogs while they were vacationing because I can't help myself!

High School Seniors

My Family. I went home a handful of times this summer for many birthdays! My sister and her littles did the Bubble Run so I took my camera for that. After that, it was Skyler's first birthday and then Avianna's SIXTH birthday. Squeezed in a quick shoot with all of my nieces with some goats... it didn't go as planned but we still got some beautiful photos!

Photographed all season long for Vintage Garage Chicago. If you're in Uptown Chicago on the third Sunday of the month from April through October, you must check them out. Must!

Grabbed some quick family photos for the best people on earth to celebrate them becoming a quartet!

Purposely took my camera down to the Loop a few times this summer. Normally I'm without it but made a point to take it, especially for the Chicagohenge

Much love friends! Thanks so much for following along - you have no idea how much it means. Here's to 2018 - I can't wait to see what comes!

xoxo - Courtney

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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! 

Super Bowl 51, Lady Gaga, Beauty and Being You

Confession: I did not watch the Super Bowl this past weekend. I did, however, watch Lady Gaga's halftime performance and loved it! She's the epitome of a strong, successful, beautiful woman who doesn't give a damn what others think of her! She's so inspiring to me in so many ways and I think she's an exquisite role model. So when I started seeing all of these headlines about her body being a topic in negative ways, I was quite upset. I mean, she OWNED that performance and looked fantastic! And people were saying she was "fat" and shouldn't have been wearing an outfit that showed her stomach like that... Please! I could understand expressing opinions of her performance, music, etc since we all don't like the same things, but to attack based on appearance alone? What message does that send? Think about every woman in the world who doesn't look like Lady Gaga, and how that makes everyone else feel. Think about the message it's sending to young children. That it's ok to verbally attack someone for no reason. It is so sad that there are so many bullies in this world that are so full of hate and anger within themselves that they need to tear others down to feel better.

It saddens me to think we live in a world where young girls, and women of all ages for that matter, are taught to believe something is wrong with us if we're not physically perfect. My heart aches at the thought of my nieces, and all young girls, growing up having to constantly compare themselves to society's version of perfection and how damaging this can be to self-esteem. It's setting them up for failure so early on, at a prime time when their sense of self is developing and being shaped.

We are all unique, and we all have different bodies. No one is perfect and it's something that needs to be celebrated, not criticized. THIS is why I do boudoir beauty sessions. To help you see yourself the way I see you: beautiful, just as you are. To show you that the way you have been taught by society to see yourself is not accurate. It's not just about pretty pictures of you, it's about a sense of empowerment and owning yourself, so-called flaws and all. We all benefit from each other when we let our light shine and recognize our own value. Celebrate you!

Imagine if we all focused on lifting each other up instead of tearing one another apart. We are all beautiful in our own ways. Let's re-define "society's" definition of beautiful and start accepting EVERYONE exactly as they are.

Be you, exactly as you are, just like ^Lynnea^ does every day! This girl is gorgeous on the outside, but her inner beauty is equally stunning. Killer personality, talented, loyal, musical dancing queen with an infectious smile, killer eyes and a giant heart full of love. She welcomed me into her tribe with open arms and I am eternally grateful to know such an incredible human being. Thanks for working with me, Lady!

We can all learn from Lady Gaga and Lynnea: that it's better to be authentic than to dim your inner light to conform to a sense of "normal." Be your weird self, my darlings!

XOXO, Courtney