When Mustang married Cowboy…

I love weddings!  And, while I am not a traditional wedding photographer, I have photographed quite a few smaller weddings where having just one person doing the shooting works.  So when Kim contacted me about the possibility of my being her wedding photographer….well….I jumped at the chance.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-23The first thing she told me was that this was not going to be any old ordinary wedding….it was going to be a biker wedding….no white dress, no tuxedos, no bridesmaids.  Sounds right up my alley!Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-4  This wedding did not disappoint…it was full of powerful emotions, loving friends and family, and one of the sweetest love stories I have ever encountered.  Sadly, Kim was involved in a motorcycle accident just prior to the wedding date so she was in a sling for the ceremony and was in quite a bit of pain but you would never have known it to look at the photos.  All that shines through is her love for this man and her joy at finally becoming his wife.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-6Ron & Kim go way back…20 years ago they were actually engaged to each other.  Of course, not everything works out the way it is supposed to and they parted ways. Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-9 Fast forward 20 years….they reconnected…..the spark was there and it took fire.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-8If you spend any amount of time with these two you can feel the deep connection that they have.  Their love is tangible….it can be felt by everyone around them and it brings a smile to your face.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-7Their wedding was a blast!  Seriously….these people know how to have fun.  They lift each other up, make each other laugh, and are not afraid to let me photograph them doing it.  Love these ladies….Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-17Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-16Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-13I wanted to capture some of the more traditional wedding photos…Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-11Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-12Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-WheatonBut then I just went with the party….lots of special moments like when the bride was dancing with her new father in law while the groom watched from the side.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-10And, of course, when ‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy’ came on…all the ladies were crowding around the one ‘Cowboy’ in the room.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-20It rained the day of the wedding so no one rode their bikes (my biggest disappointment was no cool Harley photos) but the weather cleared up in the evening which gave us a chance for some beautiful outdoor sunset shots.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-19The Punishers were out in full force for their club president.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-22And you know I had to get one of the groom’s cool rings!  These guys have the best hands for photographing…ever.Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-18Thank you for choosing me to be a part of your special day! Becci Hethcoat Photography-Wedding-Wheaton-21Here’s to Cowboy & Mustang!

XO

 

Belmont Village…Hands of Love Project

(This is me trying to get caught up with the many weeks of not blogging…)

Recently I participated in an amazing project for Belmont Village, a senior living community that offers varying levels of care for our aging population.  I was on their radar as a photographer because my Mom lives in one of their neighborhoods geared toward residents with dementia.MaryWhen they approached me about being the photographer for their “Hands of Love” project, I was thrilled!  The project was a great way to combine my love of photography with my art background.  We discussed the parameters of the project and they gave me complete creative control of the photography which was wonderful.Frank Cummings 2I wanted to wait until the show had taken place to share some of the images and stories from the residents.  I love that this project really highlights the lives that they had prior to coming to Belmont.  People forget sometimes that these seniors who can’t remember things or get angry easily once had careers, families and hobbies. Eleanor 2I spent quite a few afternoons visiting with the residents and taking lots of photos.  They were excited to share their stories and to show me their ‘props’.  We even hosted an event where the families could come and take photos of their hands together with the residents.  This was a huge family who was very excited to have this photo as their loved one was just entering hospice care.Shirley TrudeauEvery person had a story…some were simple and some tugged right at my heart.  Here are some of my favorites…

Meet Bob…Bob HOlm 2Bob used to play baseball.  In fact, he once pitched a no hitter during a very special game.  This is the game ball which was signed by all of the participants.  This ball has been one of Bob’s most prized possessions.  Bob has a grandson who is also a pitcher on a baseball team.  Right before our session, Bob handed down the cherished baseball to his grandson. These are their hands.

Meet Merle…Merle 2Merle is 110 years old.  She has written 11 books, all in long hand in spiral notebooks and all since she turned 70.  She is a prankster with an amazing sense of humor.  My daughter was completely smitten with her when they met and often asks if we can go back to visit.  These are her hands.

Meet Christine…Christine KChristine is a fun lady who painted her nails just for our session.  She used to be a model in her youth and brought a photo from one of her sessions along.  She even offered to model for me, if I ever needed a “more mature lady”.  These are her hands.

Meet Fred & Carol…Fred Hoyum & CaroleThey live together here as they have for many years.  Their wedding photo was up on a high shelf and when I asked them if I could take it down to photograph it with their hands they said “I don’t know why you would want to take photos of these old ugly hands.”  These are their beautiful hands still holding on to each other.

Meet Rute…Rute 3In her youth she was a pianist.  When we asked her to play for us she informed us that she wasn’t sure how any more.  We told her that it was OK, just pretend.  But when she placed her hands on the keys they just seemed to know what to do all by themselves.  These are her hands.

Meet Jim…Jim z 5Jim was a pilot.  His son is also a pilot for the exact same airline.  The bond between them was obvious just in the short time we spent together taking photos.  The son holds his father’s hands because he was too shaky to hold the hat himself.  He is also wearing his father’s watch.  Such a powerful image of their hands.

Meet Mike…Mike JeswithMike was an architect in his younger years.  He wasn’t even going to participate in this project but I happened to see him reading the paper and I started up a conversation with him where I learned that he used to design buildings.  He shared that he had some cool photos of himself in front of a building that was special to him so I ran up to get them and he agreed to pose for this photo for me.  These are his hands.

Meet Bob…Bob MBob brought out his dog tags along with stories about his time in the military.  I love this photo as it speaks to an entire generation of men who were defined by their war time service including many of my own relatives.  These are his hands.

Meet Herman…Herman KampfHerman was a basketball player.  You can tell he is tall even though he was sitting in a wheelchair.  He even pretended to shoot the ball for me.  His love of the game was evident from the moment the ball was handed to him.  These are his hands.

Herb JSo many great stories…too many photos to post them all here.  A few weeks ago they hosted an opening where the photos were on display for both the residents and their families to see.  After the show ended, the framed photos were then gifted to the residents (or family members).  I was sad to see how many of the people that I had just met were already gone to higher level care…even my friend Bob the baseball player.  Much to my surprise…Bob and his family organized a visit to attend the photography show.  He is currently in rehab after an amputation but he begged them to let him go for the evening to see his photo with this family and they finally said YES!  It was touching to see them there.  Barbara DThis is my Mom’s hand holding the hand of my daughter.  This is the hand that changed my diapers, prepared the food that nourished me and taught me how to be paint.  And this is the hand of the child that I have done the same for.

Hands are a powerful thing.

XO

Benjamin.

One of the most wonderful parts about being a photographer is watching families grow and change and this family is no exception.  I first met this couple when they hired me to capture their maternity photos.  These are some of my favorites from that session.  IMG_1890IMG_1807IMG_1953Of course I was so excited to finally meet this little cutie during his newborn session.IMG_0072IMG_0200IMG_0304In a blink of an eye they were reaching out to schedule his 6 month session!  I couldn’t believe how big he had gotten when he came by the studio for his photos. IMG_9438Look at that smile!IMG_9456IMG_9474He wasn’t quite sitting up on his own yet so we had to be quick and creative with poses.IMG_9518 I love this shot!  And black and white photos of course.IMG_9449I love this shot.IMG_9610IMG_9598-2It’s always special when families bring along props that are meaningful to them.  Like this name puzzle.IMG_9842IMG_9812And Sophie the chewable giraffe.IMG_9763We even attempted one in my new vintage suitcase.  Tough when you aren’t really sitting up well yet but we did manage to pull out one cute shot.  Maybe for the one year photos!IMG_9680I am already looking forward to our next session when this little guy turns one!  Cake smash anyone?IMG_9568XO

Family session at Cantigny

IMG_0294I met this young family when the Mom contacted me about photographing their upcoming wedding.IMG_0327IMG_0271While we were discussing the wedding plans, it came up that they had not had family photos taken recently.  A great opportunity for us to work together and for them to get updated family photos!IMG_0601IMG_0640We had originally planned to meet up at another location but, upon arrival, I realized that it was so crowded that taking photos would be impossible. (Prom!)  So we made a quick change that took us to Cantigny.  IMG_0384I love Cantigny!  My family has visited there since the kids were small and I shoot there often so I am very familiar with all of the great locations for setting up photos.  Imagine my surprise when we arrived to find the entire place torn apart!  I knew the museum and tanks were under construction but I had no idea that half of the grounds were also behind barricades and fences.  Oh no!  IMG_0568IMG_0579Add to that many of the same prom goers along with several wedding parties.  Total chaos!  I was nervous about how we would find spots to take photos and keep these two toddlers from getting distracted by the other action.IMG_0542Luckily….Cantigny is a big place filled with gorgeousness so we just moved through the park taking our turn at each popular spot!  IMG_0304IMG_0371IMG_0425IMG_0415And…happily…you would never know that this place was one giant construction zone in the photos!  IMG_0720I even managed to sneak in a few shots of just the parents!  IMG_0759IMG_0790IMG_0792We’ll call these ‘engagement photos’…IMG_0805I love this shot…and the fact that she is holding the skittles we used to keep the little people interested there in the end.  Real life….

Interested in a session at Cantigny?

Contact me today…

XO

Claire.

IMG_9706 copyWelcome sweet Claire. IMG_9777She was a bit older when we got together for our session.  Her Mom wanted a more traditional, soft, baby girl look.  I think we definitely accomplished that!IMG_9769She didn’t want to sleep for me…and I tried all of my tricks….but we finally got her to snooze just enough for some beautiful relaxed shots.IMG_9750I love this…she looks like a mermaid.IMG_9745IMG_9811IMG_9833I love the dramatic black I white shots…especially of those tiny fingers and toes.IMG_9880Just as I was about to shift her pose, she smiled.  I just barely caught it.  I love baby smiles!IMG_9903IMG_9916IMG_9686IMG_9864She did not like tummy time but we got all sorts of sweet & snuggly side poses.  IMG_9694IMG_9960In Mamas arms…the safest place to be.IMG_9750-3And, finally, one with her very special quote.

XO

Ivy.

(I’m departing from my normally cheerful blog posts to talk about a subject that is often not discussed but is in my heart. Shared with permission from the family.  This blog post is about term stillbirth.)

When I first met Sharon it was where we meet so many people these days…on social media.  I had listed some artwork that I was selling and she responded about purchasing it.  She saw that I was a photographer and mentioned that she was expecting soon and might want to get some newborn photos done as this was going to be their last baby.IMG_0149We discussed the process, I sent photo samples, we made plans.  I was excited to capture their newest family member.IMG_0201I thought we would meet prior to the session as she was going to be picking up the artwork but, as things would have it, a fender bender and life in general got in the way until the weekend that we finally had a firm time.  She never showed up.IMG_0005By Monday I was thinking about her so I dropped her a note to see if she didn’t come because the baby had arrived.  I had no idea that my jovial little reminder might be anything but that.  Until I received her reply…

“You have been on my mind to contact! Unfortunately she was born still yesterday morning. 😢

My heart sunk….my eyes welled with tears…I didn’t even really know this woman but, I immediately felt her pain.  There were no words….I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I hope that I said the right thing.  As a mother myself who had worried about this same thing many times, I couldn’t even imagine how she found the strength to write back to me.  IMG_0048Growing up I never knew anything about stillbirth.  No one every talked about it.  In fact, I distinctly remember a day in my teens when I was talking to my Dad and he casually mentioned that he had had a brother. What?!?!  How did I not know this?  Apparently his brother Charlie had died as a baby.  I don’t know if he was stillborn or not (because no one ever talked about it) but I knew that he had been born and died and there was no record of it.  My Dad didn’t even know what happened to him.  When I mentioned this to my Mom, she told me that she had also had a brother (eerily also named Charlie) who had died as an infant.  Again….no idea how it was that I never knew this.  Somehow the idea that these two babies had been born and died and no one ever talked about it seemed unbelievable to young me.  I asked a thousand questions and got no answers.  Both of my parents told me that their Moms didn’t discuss it because you just didn’t back then…end of story.  IMG_0064Fast forward to my adult years….I now have several friends who have lived through similar losses and I have seen the difference in their experience.  They have openly discussed it, joined support groups, comforted each other and, most of all, celebrated the children that they have lost.  What a difference from my Grandparent’s generation! IMG_0240 Sometimes they would post articles about how this topic is still so taboo in our society and I would read them to learn more.  According to the March of Dimes, stillbirth is the death of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy or during birth and around 23,600 baby are born still in our country every year.  Sometimes the reasons are obvious and sometimes they are considered unexplained.  These parents are left with the difficult task of telling everyone that their happy day has turned suddenly sad, and forevermore figuring out how to answer the common question “How many children do you have?” without feeling a sense of panic.IMG_0140So…what have I learned…unlike other deaths where there are shared memories, stillbirth is different. When a child is stillborn, those shared memories don’t exist, so they are robbed of the opportunity to talk about and remember their child with others.  Death is hard to discuss – particularly the death of a baby before it is even born.  I feel strongly we need to challenge ourselves and be more comfortable talking about stillbirth.  As one mother said…”I found people not mentioning her the hardest thing of all.”IMG_0116Sharon bravely shares her story on her personal blog, where she explores her feelings as she has been moving through the grieving process.  You can read her story here… Ivy IMG_0131 After I expressed my condolences and we talked a bit about how she was doing, our lives went on.  Me, dealing with my own busy family and her learning to cope with her new normal.  But my mind kept going back to her…wondering how she was doing, thinking about baby Ivy.  I wanted so badly to be able to offer comfort, support, anything to this woman that I had never met but felt such a connection to.  And finally, it hit me, I could offer something.  I sent Sharon a note checking in and letting her know that I would love to offer a special photo session for her sweet family.  Something to make them smile, to capture them together, to offer hope.  And she responded with a big YES!  IMG_0241Not only was she excited to do the photos but she also wanted to include Ivy.  I was thrilled.  The hospital had taken photos of the baby while they were able to spend time together and she had hoped to include one in our session.  IMG_0237When the day of our session arrived, I was excited to finally meet in person.  Happy to meet her husband and her cute, feisty children.  To see the love that they had for baby Ivy and each other.  I have to admit to tearing up a bit when posing them with Ivy’s photo.  IMG_0247I hope that my photos will bring Sharon and her family joy.  I hope that writing this article and sharing her story will help others in similar situations and will dispel the taboo that surrounds this topic to this day.IMG_0125I know that I will never forget baby Ivy.

Beautiful girl.

XO

Michael.

IMG_9568Meet Michael.IMG_9395I was lucky enough to meet his awesome wife on a local chat about having celiac years ago.  We had lunch, became friends, and we have shared many dinners, book clubs, etc since.IMG_9392Recently, we were out to dinner and chatting about photography when the subject of head shots came up.  I was sharing my thoughts about how important it is to have great head shots for your professional image when Michael showed me his.  IMG_9449It’s interesting to look at a head shot of someone you don’t know.  You formulate ideas about who they are instantly.  But try looking at a headshot of someone you do know.  IMG_9459Does that shot look like the person they are?  In Michael’s case…the answer was ‘No’.  I suggested that we do some updating and he was in!IMG_9506Anyone who knows Michael knows how appropriate it was that we met in downtown Wheaton at the Starbucks. I thought the urban/vintage vibe would be great for him.IMG_9467Michael is funny, quirky, super smart and interesting.  I wanted his photos to reflect all of those things with a more casual feel.  IMG_9404Of course, we had a few great outtakes….as I would expect with this guy!IMG_9406IMG_9630IMG_9386I told you…he’s a funny guy.  But, mostly, we captured some amazing photos that I think will give someone a sense of his personality long before they meet him.IMG_9631I also put together some photos just for him personally….cool black and white shots that are more artsy than the normal head shot.IMG_9444IMG_9434It was such a fun night.  He discovered a side of Wheaton he never knew existed (including my favorite alleyways) and I enjoyed his interesting and fun company.IMG_9477Thinking of getting new head shots?  Give me a call…I would love to put together a great portfolio of images that will make your LinkedIn page or website a more effective tool.

XO