Janachione Family Newborn Session

I was just so excited to document the Janachiones’ first days as a family of 3 :) Though, when I am not excited about photos?? In my last post from the O’Malley newborn session, I talked about how this year was the year of babies. And so far little boys! Everyone I know is having a boy and I am so so freaking happy for them!

Dan was just the sweetest little guy with some crazy hair. Insert all the heart eyes! I loved that it could not be tamed and cannot wait to see what mane he has when he grows up. I just find it so fascinating how babies change. When you look back on baby photos from adults, you can sometimes see characteristics or facial expressions that immediately point you to them. Like they really were just a miniature version of themselves all along.. And other babies go through this wild transformation where they literally could have grown up to be any adult!

Arlington Heights Newborn Session

I digress. Something really neat we did for Dan’s newborn session was incorporating all the baby blankets Torie and Mike had, baby blankets that were made for or gifted to them, blankets that were in the family. We did several shots individually but one of my favorites from the session is where he is laying on most of them. Its amazing the things people hold on to and hopefully Dan will pass these on to his children some day.

I also have to point out the R2D2 hat Dan is wearing! I had a Yoda hat made for him as well. Torie and Mike are big Star Wars fans so bringing that in to their session was a must. I’m sure he will grow up with a love for Star Wars too :)

Congratulations to the Janachione family!!

O'Malley Family Newborn Session

2019 is the year of babies! I declared this the other day after shooting my 3rd newborn session the last few months with a few other baby related shoots on the calendar coming up. And I am not mad about it at all. Especially when the sessions are with adorable little guys like Liam.

In a mentor session I took a few years ago I was told to focus on one type of photography. If I wanted to be a wedding photographer, than I should only show that I shoot weddings. If I decided to be a family photographer, I should only show families. It made sense with that dang Instagram algorthium. But to me, it didn’t. I have always just loved shooting PEOPLE. In all stages of life with all sorts of reasons for a session. I am a LIFE photographer with a nontraditional spin. I like to focus on the real moments of your life whether that be on your wedding day or with your baby or when you are gearing up to find a new job and want something a little more fun for a head shot. So with that being said I am so incredibly excited for all the babies I get to work with this year. And couples. and anyone else I get to meet along the way :)

New Lennox newborn in home photography

Now on to the O’Malley’s. I do not take it lightly when people let us into their space to capture these moments and am always so honored. Especially when we are all having a party on their bed to get these photos! Emily and Lex used to work together so I was thrilled when she reached out for newborn photos. She was all about the real moments that is newborn life. While there were some tears, being a week old is rough. There were also lots of snuggles and a maybe smiles. I am just so happy I could document these moments for you two!

Teresa + Nick Matthiessen State Park Engagement Session

You know when you meet up at a winery for some pre session wine tasting that its going to be a good day. We meet Teresa and Nick at August Hill winery before heading to Matthiessen State Park for their session. After hanging out with them for about an hour and half sipping on Rose, it was clear just how excited they were to be getting married. Nick proposed exactly one year after sending Teresa the first message on a dating site and now they are eagerly counting down the days until they say I do.

Teresa-Nick-Mattheissen-EngagementSession_0991.jpg

Like most couples I meet up with they claim that they are super awkward and will need help. And that couldn’t be further from the truth every time. They rocked it! Teresa and Nick were so much fun and just so easy to work with. We came up with a game plan for their wedding day and I am so excited to run around Springfield with them again! I love couples who are up for whatever goofy ideas I have :)

One of the funniest moments that I wish someone had gotten on video camera was at the very end of the engagement session. We thought we could make it down this hill that was covered almost entirely in a sheet of ice. Crazy, right? Since it is March and its been a rough winter, Matthiessen was pretty frozen. Which was gorgeous but proved to be a little difficult to get to some parts that we might have normally been able to. We decided to brave the descent and make our way to these rocks and I about died laughing. We are all scooting our way down attempting not to break a bone. At one point, because I am just so clumsy, I opted to slide on my butt part of the way until I could make it to some sand. Teresa and Nick are sitting on these rocks and Lex is holding onto me so I don’t slide down another hill while taking photos. Helping me inch one way or another so I could get various shots. After we were done we realized the way back up was going to be harder. We started off holding on to the wall of rock but ran out of grip making out way to the middle. I swear this must have looked like the scene from Parks and Rec where Leslie has one of her campaign meetings in the middle of a hockey rink. One thing for sure is that sessions with me are never dull ;)

De'Airius Founder of Rigo Litter Control Chippewa Woods

De and I ran around the park before the grounds crew even got there one morning. He had sent me a message saying how he started a new company called Rigo Litter Control and needed photos for the website. De is a product developer for US Foods and has created some of my favorite products for Scoop including the Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream. Which is TO DIE FOR.

As we were walking around De explained that he was passionate about keeping the planet clean and it all started one day while he was swimming last summer in Lake Michigan. He usually picks up litter when he is out anyway but one piece of trash in particular caught his eye, a styrofoam cup floating in the water. He knew something needed to be done. From there the desire to keep our earth clean and the idea for the business was born.

I absolutely LOVE meeting up and discussing goals, business plans, and our passions with other entrepreneurs. I was so impressed that he not only works on creating delicious food products for US Foods but he is also working towards this business as well. De mentioned he liked to have his hands in multiple things so there may be more he is working towards! I am so excited to see all that this company can do :)

If you are in the need for residential and commercial property clean up, definitely check out Rigo Litter Control.

You will find that not only are we passionate about helping to revitalize Chicago, but we also take pride in knowing that our work helps to decrease the amount of litter that ends up in our sewers, which ultimately lead to the Gulf of Mexico. Such litter not only creates an eyesore along our world’s shorelines, but it also can lead to damage of marine habitat and wildlife harm via entanglement and ingestion. There is no better way to show our appreciation to Mother Nature than to take responsibility and accountability for our actions, and willingly and systematically help to maintain its components.

Dylan + Sydney Starved Rock Engagement Session

I am slowly but surely catching up on blogging! I love to blog so that is never the issue. Right before we went to Italy, I had about 4 or 5 sessions I wrapped up and couldn’t blog all at once. So if you are waiting to see your session up here, no worries it is coming soon!!

We are about 5 months away from Dylan and Sydeny’s wedding in Iowa and I am SO excited :D Dylan is one of the best people I have had the privilege to call a friend. He has such a big heart, is so goofy, was always there for me in high school and college, and just a blast to hang out with. Dylan and I only went to University of Iowa for a semester…while I didn’t continue going there I loved my time with him. We had so many adventures! Mostly eating burritos. And I am beyond happy that he found someone who is equally fun, adorable, and just as smitten with him and he is with her.

I got to meet Sydney the summer before they got engaged at another’s friends’ wedding I was shooting. They were in the lobby when we checked in to the hotel. Watching them interact the whole wedding was just about the sweetest thing and I knew they would be getting engaged soon!

For their engagement session, we ran around Starved Rock! Man oh man does Starved Rock’s stairs remind you how out of shape you are haha I was trying to keep my cool the whole time we were exploring and made it back to my car and chugged some water. Session learned, when it is September and in the 8-’s maybe don’t wear a jean jacket and not bring water to your shoot ;) Regardless, we had an awesome time catching up and talking details of their day.

I cannot wait to spend the week celebrating with you guys in a few months!!

Our Honeymoon in Oahu, Hawaii part two

If you read my blog post the other day about part one of our honeymoon, you would have seen we went to San Diego to start our trip! Our second part as you can see from the title was Oahu! I am not sure if Hawaii was always on my list of places to go but over the last few years it had become more magical to me. I knew Jurassic Park was filmed somewhere in Hawaii so I thought how awesome would it be to go see where they filmed? And just have a relaxing time. While Lex and I agreed we probably couldn’t live in Hawaii we definitely want to go back someday.

Having never been to Oahu I found a hotel in the Waikiki area of Honolulu. This was definitely the more touristy area FULL of shops, malls, people, food, etc. Our hotel was great and had just as amazing views as our hotel in San Diego did. While we enjoyed our stay at Hilton Waikiki Beach we ended up driving out to the North Shore of the island the majority of the time! That area was definitely more us. I am glad though we stayed in Waikiki, if we had stayed at Turtle Bay (which is pretty awesome, we walked through the hotel quickly) we probably wouldn’t have rented a car since there was so much to do there. We could have gotten a ride to our ATV tours at Kualoa Ranch and walked to the stables on the resort for horseback riding. We probably also wouldn’t have ventured to Waikiki because the North Shore was so awesome. So this gave us a great opportunity to explore and drive all over the island. Plus we were able to get a jeep which was pretty fun to drive around in. We initially only planned to rent a car for 2 days but we decided to book it for the whole week. Definitely worth it! We drove to the other side of the island almost every day.

One of the best things by far we did was do a session through Flytographer. We added it to our registry so we could hire a photographer in Hawaii and it worked out perfectly. Reese from Reese and Renee Photography was the photographer and just nailed it. It was so nice to take an hour to just hang out together and let Reese do the capturing and documenting of our trip. Now we will forever have these beautiful photos from our time there. I would 100% recommend doing something like this on any trip. Selfies are great but these photos are special. Feel free to bring me along to any trip ;) Or reach out to Reese if you are in Oahu and tell him Mackenzie and Lex sent you!

As I mentioned before, another favorite part of our trip was just exploring the North Shore. There were TONS of roadside stands and food trucks to stop at, it was amazing. I am all about supporting small businesses and just loved how excited they were to have us stop by. Some of my favorites include the Sunrise Shack which has a second location in Waikiki, The Mill, which is basically a dirt parking lot full of food trucks, and Kahuku Land Farms stand ( I got amazing banana bread there). If you go The Mill, for sure check out Seven Brothers. I had one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life there.

I promised Lex we would get to go horseback riding if we got to go to Hawaii! Lex LOVES horses so I was so happy we got to do this. There was a bunch of different options of places but I felt like Turtle Bay Stables was the best choice. And it was awesome. We did a 45 minute tour but probably could have done the 2 hour one. Initially I thought 2 hours sitting on a horse might be painful but 45 minutes wasn’t enough. We got to ride through the jungle and by the beach, see where Lost, Jumanji, The Hunger Games, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall were filmed. We would love next time to maybe stay a few days at Turtle Bay so we can do more exploring there.

Another of my favorite things we did in Hawaii was the 2 hour ATV tour at the Kualoa Ranch. It was worth every penny and the hour and 20 minute drive from our hotel. Riding ATVs is pretty awesome to begin with but when you get to do it where Jurassic Park, Lost, Jurrasic World, Kong Skull Island, 50 First Dates, etc were filmed and its one of the most incredible views its basically the greatest day ever. We had SO much fun and are very appreciative to those who gifted us money to do this (and the horseback riding) on our trip. I bought a Jurassic Park t-shirt from there and now its the only thing I want to wear. So don’t be surprised if you see me wearing it. Funny thing is though that the only scene filmed in Jurassic Park at the ranch was the scene where they hide under the log. Our tour guides were laughing. Most was filmed in Kauai but don’t let that stop you from going if you are a big fan! Most of the Jurassic World island scenes were filmed here.

We’ve only been home a few days but are dreaming up our next adventure! Stayed tuned to see where we go next.

Caleen + Ryan Libertyville Independence Grove Winter Wedding

Where do I even begin with Ryan and Caleen? I cannot put into words how truly lucky I feel to have been a part of the last year of their life. These two are some of the best people we have had the privilege of working with and true reminder of why I love my job so freaking much. Seriously, I just want to take a moment to appreciate them and how wonderful they were.

Independence Grove Libertyville Wedding

You may remember them from their engagement session I shared a few weeks ago. I was counting down the days until we returned to Independence Grove for their wedding and it did not disappoint. It was a day full of SO many beautiful moments, sentimental details, and so much love. These are two of the kindest people so you can just imagine what their friends and family were like. The entire day everyone was so just beyond welcoming. It was brought up numerous times just how awesome these two were. They were known for giving selflessly and being there for the people they love. If every Saturday was their wedding I would be so happy :)

Caleen and Ryan love to travel so it was important that it was incorporated into their wedding. On each table they had a frame with a place they have been together with a story on the other side. I think one of the best things you can do with your person is travel. Some of my all time favorite moments with Lex have been during long car rides on our adventures. It was so cool to see how traveling has played such a big part in Caleen and Ryan’s relationship. I hope their love for it only continues to grow!

I also have to point out one for my favorite things to happen was during Caleen’s sisters’ speeches. Sheila and Sarah mentioned that they noticed how in all the photos they have of Ryan, he was always wearing a grey sweater. So they got both Ryan and Caleen matching grey sweaters that they can wear together on their adventures and I about died. How amazing is that?? You know what you like :)

I could go on and on but I will end and let the photos and video speak for themselves. Congratulations to the McGraths!! <3

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It is hard to explain just how amazing Mackenzie, Lex, and Zach are! I found them through a wedding website, and am so glad I reached out because working with them has been amazing! One thing you should know is that my husband and I are not exactly the most natural in front of the camera (read SO awkward), yet they made us feel instantly comfortable and we LOVE our photos! From our engagement shoot to the wedding day it felt like I was emailing with a friend and I was so grateful for the suggestions and the detailed planning Mackenzie did. There was never a moment of feeling like we didn’t know what to do. She is also always up for any ideas! From having our incredibly squirrly dog involved in the pictures to being outside in sub-zero weather, they were down! I often read reviews looking for someone to affirm my choice, and if you are reading looking for that, this is it! Seriously, I researched a ton and am SO glad we chose Mackenzie and her team. They made our wedding day that much more special, and we will be forever grateful to them. I will absolutely use them for all future celebrations and moments we want to remember!  - Caleen

Jess + Alex Villa Olivia Winter Wedding

Jess has always dreamed of a white wedding. So when it was 50 degrees a few Saturdays before I was. little nervous that we might have an abnormally warm day. But luck would have it that a snow storm came Friday night and covered the area in a beautiful fresh coat of snow. It was also ridiculously cold and windy that day so a big shout out to Jess and Alex, along with their bridal party for enduring the cold for a few photos. You guys are awesome.

Jess and Alex did everything at Villa Olivia which I just LOVE. Not only is is great for logistics, having more time to get all the shots we need so the couple can get back to having fun sooner, I think its also perfect for guests to move from the ceremony straight to the cocktail hour in the same exact spot. Makes things easier for them! And again, more partying :) One thing I didn’t realize even from their questionnaire was that there was an actual ski hill. You could watch people go up the hill to the left with people skiing right behind the head table! There was even a few skiers who stopped to watch the ceremony through the window!

Fun fact about their wedding, Jess took her mother’s dress and repurposed it to make it her own. Holy wow it was awesome, I was beyond impressed and seriously loved how that she was able to include something so special like that. She also is crazy creative and made all there decor for their wedding. Give me all the DIY couples <3 I know the pain it is to create things on your won but how worth it is to see the final project finished!

One of the best parts of the day was the reception. Boy did this group know how to PARTY. I am obsessed with some fo these dancing photos. The moment the DJ called everyone out to the dance floor to the time we left there were people out there busting moves and I just love that!! One of my all time favorite things to document on a wedding day is dancing photos. When everyone lets loose and just enjoys themselves.

Jess and Alex, I hope your wedding was everything you two wanted and more! Lex and are so honored we got to be part of your cozy winter wedding and bust a few moves ourselves out on the dance floor :)

Drew + Ben West Loop Chicago Riverwalk Engagement Session

I was getting a little nervous we weren’t going to be able to do their session because my weather app kept saying it was only going to be 12 degrees out. I knew they were driving a few hours to get to the city for their session so I checked in with Drew to make sure they were still game no matter the temp. They were! And honestly, you’d never know it was so dang cold out by how much fun we were all having. Drew and Ben felt like old friends we were catching up with. I cannot say enough good things about these two and their session! They were up for all my weird and crazy game and ideas. And basically just the freaking cutest couple. We ended their trip with a delicious dinner at Flight Club (which I highly recommend) where we discussed ghost stories. Drew and Ben are my kind of people!

I am even more excited than I already was for their wedding in October! They were gong over some fo the details and I just love how they are staying true to who they are and what they want. Can it be October already??

Chicago Engagement Session

Nina + Tim Venice Beach Florida Wedding

I could get used to weddings on the beach at sunset.

While Nina was getting ready, we were talking about hers and Tim’s big day. She had mentioned when she inquired that they loved coming out here. So I asked if this was something they decided once they got engaged or if they had known. Nina said her dream was to have a wedding on the beach. I know I though it was an incredible day and hope it was everything you two dreamed of and more!

One of my favorite things to do in a wedding blog post is talk about some cool things that the couple did. I hope this inspires future couples to do what makes them happy :) Its also so cool to see how unique everyone makes their day! So right after Nina and Tim said I do on Venice Beach, they exited the ceremony and took a left towards the water. During their ceremony, the officiant had passed around a basket of stones and asked everyone to make a wish/blessing for the newlyweds. Once everyone made it to the water, they threw their stones in! I don’t know if this is a Florida thing or not but I loved it. It was such an awesome way to get everyone involved on their big day AND they were all corralled together for family formals. Its a win win :)

Its always amazing to me how everyone’s day plays out so differently. Nina and Tim were calm and just soaking everything in the whole time. Even when it ended up being the hottest day of the last several days and we needed to take several breaks to sit in the car with the air conditioning on they were just so happy.

You see, Nina and Tim have been together for 10 years. 10 YEARS. They actually met in high school (where we all went!) and have been inseparable ever since. I was so excited to hear they were getting married and then getting to catch up with them, and a few other DeKalb High School Alum at their wedding.

Congrats to Nina and Tim! You two had an incredible beautiful day surrounded by the people who love you in your favorite place. It was magical <3

Nina and Tim soaking up the golden hour after their ceremony.

Nina and Tim soaking up the golden hour after their ceremony.

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US Foods Fall Events

If you remember my post from this past summer, I did a recap of some of my favorite photos I have taken for US Foods. Here is a selection of photos from a few events I did for them this fall!

Revel Chicago Event

Vendor Forum

Talk Shop Live with Marcus Samuelsson

Caleen + Ryan Independence Park Libertyville Engagement Session

Almost 2 weeks from now Caleen and Ryan will be saying I do and I CANNOT FREAKIN WAIT. Caleen and I have been emailing about their big day, getting all of the details and timelines in order and lets just say its going to be one awesome party. She has already mentioned there will be donuts. They actually brought us donuts to their engagement session as a congratulations on getting married the weekend before. Are they not the sweetest?? I also have to point out that there will be some incredibly gorgeous and sentimental details/moments at their wedding and I truly cannot wait to capture these for them.

Caleen and Ryan are actually having their reception at Independence Park! They asked if we could go there in September to get a different view of the place since it’ll be winter and potentially snowing on their big day. I thought it was a great idea :) They even brought their dog Kedzie who was just so adorable.

This shoot was all about breaking the rules… I saw there was a little beach there beside the venue and asked if they would be cool with hopping the fence. I wanted to get just a few of them playing on the beach. We made it about 5 minutes before a woman with a fanny pack on a gold cart came racing over and escorted us to the other side of the gate. Dogs (and horses) were also not allowed on the premise so we smuggled Kedzie in. Don’t worry. I may be known to hop a few fences from time to time but I would never put anyone in danger. Or do something illegal in the name of a photo :)

From the moment we had our initial phone call to the last few emails I have received from Caleen, I have absolutely loved working with these and could not be more excited for them. See you guys in just a couple weeks!!!

Valparaiso Indiana Dunes Weekend Getaway November 2018

Took advantage of the first free weekend in months and rented this cozy little AirBnb in Valpo. The owner stopped by and told us they bought it right after their daughter graduated from high school. They pretty much redid the entire house! It was incredible. Her husband built this beautiful home for them from the ground up up the street so they decided to rent this cottage out and use it for family around the holidays.

I absolutely LOVED that they had a fireplace. We made a fire every evening and morning we were there and all got cozy with tea, beers, or wine. We even took advantage of their porch one morning wrapped up in blankets for breakfast. As you can see their view was incredible. How they ever got anything done between sitting by the fire or enjoying the view is beyond me.

It was a pretty low key weekend which was great. We did do some exploring of the dunes but nothing too crazy. I have been to several dunes in Michigan but never to any in Indiana and they were just gorgeous.

I would 100% go back. It was the perfect weekend full of great memories.

Abby + Jeremy Afton Forest Preserve Maternity Session

Because I am a little bit behind on posting blogs these two already had their baby :P And he is freaking ADORABLE. Jeremy and Abby are some of my favorite clients. It has been so much fun working with them over the last 2 years. I started off with a mini engagement session and their wedding and then got to document this special time in their lives. And now they have the cutest baby boy. To say I am lucky to be a small part of my clients’ lives is an understatement. I do not take it lightly that people include me in some of their most special moments.

During their session we joked how it has been ridiculously hot every time we get together for their shoots. One of these days we will have a session during a beautiful 60-70 degree day where no one is sweating ;)

Congratulations you two!! I am just over the moon happy for your guys.

Hoehn Family Newborn Plainfield Session

Is there anything cuter than a baby in a tie? Or a Santa onesie? I think you could put a baby in pretty much anything and they’d basically be the cutest thing I have ever seen. This was definitely the case for sweet Oliver when we went to do his newborn session! He was only a couple weeks old and just so adorable.

Mike, Michelle, and Lex went to Bradley together so I was extra excited when they reached out about newborn photos. I get this questions a lot, “do you guys take newborn photos?”. Heck yes we do! And I love it. We do it a little differently around here though. While I respect that art of the newborn photography that is very popular right now I am more about capturing moments. I love getting a new family all cuddled up together or the goofy faces a baby makes. Getting shots of them in their nursery all swaddled up. Or with beakers in Oliver’s case. His dad is a science teacher :) I love getting photos like these that you can look back and remember this time.

I am a sucker for string lights so I am super in love with all the shots of him under the Christmas tree! Congratulations to the Hoehn family! What a perfect little addition :)

Planfield Santa onesie newborn session

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Adventures in New York City with Nicole October 2018

If you didn’t see my post a few weeks ago about being the official Food Fanatics Live photographer, you can check that out here. Part of the fun is getting to travel to new places! In 2017 I was really motivated to go out and do things but with 19 shows, it got less and less exciting to walk around alone.

I had never been to New York before and who knows when I would have the opportunity to go back soon so at the last minute I asked Nicole if there was any way she could come with me. I also warned her it was going to be the quickest trip. We only had a few hours to explore before I had to shoot a VIP party Tuesday night and then all of Wednesday I would be shooting the last FFL event of the year. But I think it was worth it :)

After lunch, our first stop was Times Square. I am glad we got to go but it was not as exciting as movies or photos make it out to be. Time and time again I think I am proving to myself that the less touristy things are where I love to explore!

Our hotel was super close to Times Square so as soon as we were done snapping a few photos we made out way to Central Park. That was worth it. I absolutely love movies and TV shows and so many have been filmed here: Enchanted, Maid in Manhattan, Gossip Girl, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, 27 Dresses, 500 Days of Summer, and more! I could go on. So I was geeking out just a bit when we got to see some of the places these movies or shows were filmed. Nicole reminded me that A Troll in Central Park was also based off there ;) I kept teasing her that the only movies she could think of when she thought of New York were cartoons!

Central Park was incredible. And we only got to see a little bit of it. If I lived in New York, I would want to go there everyday. There was so much going on, so many beautiful places to hang out, a zoo (which is one of my all time favorite past times) and street vendors! I would happily explore Central Park again.

One of my favorite parts was the Boathouse as seen in 27 Dresses. We decided we would get drinks out by the pond. As soon as we sat down it started to rain a little over the pond where you could actually see the rain falling! It was magical. Then a rainbow appeared about the boathouse. Definitely the highlight of the trip for me besides getting to go with Nicole :) We had an amazing time and I can’t wait for our next adventure!