Byron, IL In-home Newborn Photographer | Craig, Elizabeth, Annabelle, & Evaleen

Byron, IL In-home Newborn Photographer

YOU GUYYYYYYYYYSSSSS!!! I’m happy to introduce to you all the newest member of our family: MY NIECE EVALEEN!!! She was born back in October and is such a little sweetheart!! Here are some of my favorites from ner in-home newborn shoot!

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Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL Family Portrait Photographer | Tom, Lauren, Ethan, & Isabel

It’s been about 4 years since I last photographed this crew, and man have these kids gotten HUGE!!! What really makes me feel old is that I photographed Isabel’s newborn pictures. IN 2011. I don’t even know what to do with that. I just fell down a rabbit hole looking back at those pictures, and then I remembered that I photographed Isabel’s newborn pictures the day after I found out I was pregnant with my daughter (who is my second born). I remember not feeling the best, and also being a little emotional seeing new little Isabel after just finding out I was going to have another baby. It’s funny how pictures of other people’s families and life events can bring up so many of my own memories! And I’m floored that that was SEVEN years ago! WHAT IN THE WORLD.

I met up with Tom, Lauren, & the kids at Nachusa Grasslands, which I had never heard of before Lauren suggested doing their shoot there. Have any of you out there heard of this place??? There are legit bison there! It’s so cool! And speaking of cool, it was FREEZING the day of their shoot. It was windy and cold and I felt so bad for making them traipse around without their coats on. Thankfully we moved to a more wooded area for the second part of the shoot and the wind-blocking trees made things much more bearable. They were troopers, and I have to say that I’m proud of them because I can’t even tell that they were freezing while looking through these pictures.

ANYWAYS. How ‘bout some pictures?!?

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Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL Family Photographer | Chris, Karissa, Bennett, & Family

Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL Family Photographer

Look who’s back! I’ve photographed Chris and Karissa EVERY YEAR since 2014! (In case you need proof: Engagement 2014, Wedding 2015, Family 2016, Family 2017, and now this year, which I don’t have to link because here you are) It always gives me the feels when a client trusts me enough to have me document their lives year in and year out. Also I just CAN’T BELIEVE how big Bennett has gotten since I saw him last year…he’s practically a grown up! Especially compared to that 2016 family session when he was just a wee little babe!!

We ended up at Chris and Karissa’s house for the last part of our shoot, but we started at Rock Cut State Park, which is where I photographed Chris and Karissa’s engagement pictures, and where we did their family photos last year. It was fun for me while editing this set to go back and compare these to last year’s shoot. It felt like all we did was replace Bennett with a bigger version of himself, haha! It’d be kind of fun to do this every year and make it into a flip book when he graduates high school. I’m thinking of the swinging photos in particular. What d’ya think Karissa?!?! ;) ;) ;)

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DeKalb, IL Maternity Photographer | Derek & Samantha

DeKalb, IL Maternity Photographer

The last time I photographed Derek and Sam was right before they got married allllll the way back in 2012! That was SIX YEARS AGO. (insert shocked face emoji here) Back in October, we met at the same place where we took their engagement photos to photograph some maternity pictures!! Eeeek!! It was so good to see them again and to chat about all things pregnancy and I’m so excited for them to enter this new amazing stage of their lives!!

This shoot was interesting for me creatively because we planned the session for the early morning, which comes with a type of light that I don’t get to shoot in that often. It was fun to play with the light at a different angle in a location that I shoot in frequently (and 95% of the time I shoot there it’s in the evening) and to embrace some of the harsher light that comes with a quickly rising sun. In previous years I’d be all about running to the shade in a situation like this, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, I really felt like challenging myself to step outside of my photographic comfort zone and see what I could get with the full sun for some of the images. I’m really pleased with the result!

Getting back to the main reason we’re here, here are some of my favorites from my time with Derek & Sam, who I just know are going to make great parents!!

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Pheasant Run, St. Charles, IL Wedding Photographer | Joe & Missy

Pheasant Run, St. Charles, IL Wedding Photographer

I maaaaaaaay have gone a bit overboard for this post! It was so hard to narrow down my favorites because Joe and Missy’s wedding day was filled with so much love and emotion! From Missy’s first look with her dad, to the 6 heartfelt and touching speeches, to their rockin’ dance floor; their day was jam-packed with beautiful and fun moments! And I think we need to pause and take a moment to talk about how darn cute Missy is!! She’s the kind of person who can’t stop smiling when she’s happy and who wears all of her emotions right there on her face. It should go without saying that I smiled a lot while editing these images because her joy is so contagious! Like, if I’m having a bad day I’m just gonna come back here and look at this post because I’m sure I’ll cheer up right quick seeing her smile! I know I’m not the only one who feels this way after seeing the way Joe lights up when he looks at her. One of my favorite memories from their day was Joe watching his new bride dance with her dad during the father-daughter dance. He was completely transfixed and it melted my heart.

Here are a bunch of my favorites from their day!

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Check out there engagement session here!

Invitations: Homemade

Florist: Town and Country Gardens

Wedding Dress: La Sposa from Magnolia Bridal St Charles

Bridesmaid's Dresses: David’s Bridal

Tuxes: GQ Formalwear

Getting ready, Ceremony & Reception: Pheasant Run

Cake: Oak Mill Bakery

DJ: An Enchanted Evening

Videographer: Burlap Events

Second Photographer: Gisselle Creech

Favorite wedding day memory:

Our favorite memory is the ceremony.

Joe: My favorite part was watching Missy walk down the aisle with her dad.

Missy: My favorite part was feeling like Joe and I were the only ones in the room during Pastor’s message.

What they would have done differently:

Missy: Known how to bustle my dress! ;) but that was out of our control at the point that we got the dress so no big deal.

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Get things done early and do not procrastinate. We did many things ahead of time and felt comfortable and calm going into our wedding weekend. Also, don’t let the little details cloud the big picture. Little decor items and details do not change the outcome of marrying your best friend. That was the best advice we had been given, and so glad we kept it in the forefront of our preparation!

Honeymoon:

We went to Alaska! Anchorage area, and rented a car to get around. It was not only fun and adventurous, but it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Final Reflections:

Taking a 5 minute break with each other before the cocktail hour was wonderful. Definitely would recommend this to new brides and grooms! We also reminded each other to remember the moment and paused often to reflect and take it all on.

Sycamore, IL Family Photographer | Matt, Laura, Livvy, Grace, Madelyn, & Jane

Sycamore, IL Family Photographer

Matt & Laura and their kiddos just moved up to Illinois from New Mexico back in June and they wanted to commemorate their first season in the Midwest with a photo shoot. In Laura’s words from a text that literally made me snort with laughter, “We’re having family pictures taken because I have my doubts we’ll survive the Winter coming from New Mexico.” Haha! I probably shouldn’t be surprised that we’ve had some unseasonably early snow and cold this year (it’s in fact snowing as I type this post)! A good ‘ole Midwest welcome to these newbies! XD

I felt so refreshed by this session in a lot of ways. First of all, I was in awe of how well these four girls got along! I’m sure every day home life is different and they have their moments like any siblings do, but I really got a sense during the shoot that they generally have a good time together. They laughed and joked with each other during our shoot, and if any of them suggested something for a pose they all were on board without any apparent annoyance at the sibling making the suggestion. This inspired great hope for me with my kiddos, who are all young enough to still like each other, that when they’re in their teenage years they can still be good buddies. Another thing that stuck out to me was how much Matt and Laura genuinely enjoy their kids and just let them be who they are. I’m fully aware of how stressful photo shoots can be for families (especially when very young kids are involved), and I’m all about letting kids be themselves instead of forcing them into happy, smiley, perfect pictures. I really felt like Matt and Laura embraced this without me even having to say anything. They let the girls be silly, entertained their posing ideas, and even joined in with the joking. I felt like I was receiving a lesson in parenting…that it’s okay to let your kids be kids EVEN during times that you’d normally consider “serious”, and it’s okay for us parents to participate in and enjoy their kid-ness. The final thing that I really loved about this shoot was being able to see the Midwest through fresh eyes. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve taken for granted how beautiful this area is. But hearing from Laura’s perspective, who has spent a good portion of her life in the desert, how much she loves the landscape around here has really made me pause, look around, and notice just how lovely it is. Thank you guys for all of these little insights and inspirations!

Now for the pictures. :D

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Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach, Chicago, IL Maternity Photographer | Jaden & Cassandra

Lincoln Park and North Ave Beach, Chicago, IL Maternity Photographer

When I last photographed Jaden and Cassandra back in April 2017, they were just getting ready to embark upon fostering to adopt and had traveled to Chicago from Missouri to celebrate the life change with a photo session (which you can check out HERE!). Earlier this year they finally began to foster, and within a few short whirlwind weeks they were caring for a two babies AND a teenager. They hadn’t even adjusted to their new chaotic life when they were faced with an unexpected surprise…Cassandra was PREGNANT!!! WHAT?!?!? While they’re still caring for the teen, they've taken a step back from fostering in general until they get settled after their baby boy is born in January, but then they plan to continue on with their original plan of fostering.

I’m beyond honored that they drove up to Chicago once again to have me photograph their maternity pictures! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them and was inspired, encouraged, and blessed by their story of obedience to God and of His faithfulness to them. I’m so excited for these two and know they’re going to be amazing parents!! <3

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Algonquin, IL Wedding Photographer | Daryn & Lillian

Algonquin, IL Wedding Photographer

Daryn and Lillian’s wedding almost felt like a family reunion for me. In the past year and a half I’ve photographed two of Daryn’s cousin’s weddings (Geoff & Stephanie and Erica & Mike!), and now his and Lillian’s! It’s kind of surreal to show up at a wedding and recognize almost half of the people there without actually being related to them myself. It’s something I could definitely get used to!!

Daryn and Lillian did things a little differently and decided to have their reception in their own backyard, which really added to the intimacy of their day. Obviously weddings are special events no matter what, but the fact that you can walk outside to your backyard and immediately relive your reception every single day is a pretty cool experience to have.

One of my favorite moments was doing their first look right out in their front yard…having Lillian walk out of her own front door to her almost husband. Of course I cried because I almost always cry and you’ll see in a moment how sweet it was, but it just felt a little more personal than normal. I know it ended up being a lot of work for Lillian and Daryn with not only the logistics of having a reception in a place that isn’t set up for one, but with fixing up the outside of their home (which looks AMAZING, btw!!), but I really think the memories made it all worth it.

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Such a good-lookin’ group of Chrissy Deming couples!! ;)

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Click here to see their engagement session

Favorite wedding day memory:

This is very hard, because everything was perfect, but having our friends and family there to help us celebrate made it so very memorable.

What they would have done differently:

I can honestly say that I would not have done anything differently. It was difficult putting it all together, since it was at our home. We had to do a lot of the work ourselves that banquet halls normally take care of, but it was worth it!

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Be patient and take time for yourselves. Planning a wedding is stressful. Do little things to relax (e.g. simple dinners at homes, massages).

Honeymoon:

We will be going to Aruba for an all-inclusive honeymoon where we don't have to worry about anything!

Final Reflections

Our wedding was a day we will never forget.

DeKalb, IL Family Photographer | Heath, Katie, Blake, Knox, & Jace

DeKalb, IL Family Photographer

I’ve known this family for quite a long time!! I had the honor of photographing Heath & Katie’s engagement & wedding all the way back in 2011 when they were a family of three and Blake was only 2-years-old (my WORD that was forever ago!!), then a family session for them back in 2015 after Knox joined them, and now they’re back with sweet Jace as a family of FIVE! Throughout those years I’ve also gotten to know Katie a little more because she’s my massage therapist, and a pretty amazing one if I do say so myself (FOR REAL. You need to go see her!)!! Anyways, I’m so excited to have these guys (and gal!) on the blog again!

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Palos Heights, IL Lifestyle Newborn Photographer | Josh, Julia, Elliot, Ethan, & Finley

Palos Heights, IL Lifestyle Newborn Photographer

I know I sound like a broken record, but I just LOVE in-home photo sessions!! It’s amazing the level of comfort that comes with being in your own place and having everything you need right there…especially when you’ve just had a baby!! And I have to say that when you have other young kids in the home as well, it’s also a big help for them! They have so much that they’re adjusting to with having a new little one in the house without having to stand in a stuffy studio and slap on some “perfect” smiles for a stranger. Perhaps one of the things I love most about the in-home shoots is that I’m photographing a family in the actual space in which they do life. The pictures I take there will hopefully hold added significance as everyone gets older because the location itself is so intimately filled with memory upon memory. I could keep going, but I’m gonna step off my soapbox and introduce you all to sweet Finley!!

Finely is such a darling little man and is absolutely adored by his two older brothers. He’s also a typical third child in that he slept through all the yelling, jumping, poking, and laughing his brothers subjected him to (praying that continues for you Josh and Julia!! Not the poking and stuff, but the sleeping. ;) ). And can we please just stop a minute to talk about his adorable little face?!?! UGH!! I can’t even look at him without melting!! He’s just so darn cute!! Even my own three kids were awing over him and this entire family while I edited these!

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