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

Prom.

Meet Kenzie.IMG_8511Kenzie is a young Mom of a cute 2 year old son.IMG_8398Recently she wrote on one of my Facebook Mom groups about her desire to attend her high school prom and the struggle to afford such a huge undertaking.IMG_8363The response was immediate, powerful, and inspiring!IMG_8507  These Moms took time from their busy lives to reach out to her offering everything from a dress (which had to be rush shipped from out of state), to shoes, flowers, hair, makeup, jewelry….everything!IMG_8439  I was excited to be able to offer my photography services to capture some photos of her on her special day.  IMG_8423We met down at the Naperville Riverwalk on a gorgeous day.IMG_8565  I saw the results of so many wonderful Moms at work that day as I shot photos of Kenzie before her prom.  I admit, as a Mom myself, I teared up a bit.IMG_8566IMG_8569I am happy to report that she had a great time at the dance and I hope that our community created lifelong memories for her!IMG_8561I even thought what a fun tradition it would be to do something like this for a special girl every year.  IMG_8456Thank you to all of the generous Moms who came together to make her dream come true.  I am so lucky to be part of such an amazing community of women!

XO

Mia.

IMG_7938-1This girl…IMG_8051She is so beautiful!IMG_8176IMG_8209IMG_7894And, although most new Moms of girls are only interested in pink, her Mom was open to letting me have fun with bold colors!IMG_8225IMG_8263IMG_8240I had never done red before, and I think she might have been a bit skeptical at first, but they turned out so fabulous.IMG_8156IMG_7925IMG_8112I was thrilled to see that she wrote “100% love” about Black & White photos.  I am in total agreement…especially when it comes to newborns.  The wrinkles…the shadows…ah!IMG_7982IMG_7972IMG_7953-2Add one big, strong Daddy and it elevates newborn photos to a whole new level.  Every girl needs her Daddy!IMG_8025IMG_8005And finally….IMG_8137 copyI love, love, love this photo…and this quote.  She looks like a super snuggly hippie girl.

And there is no doubt in my mind, after spending some time with this sweet family, that this girl will be so loved.

Thank you for trusting me to capture these special moments.

XO