bloomington illinois photography

Where my name came from...

I ask a lot of my clients. I ask them to be open and vulnerable which is never easy. I ask them to tell me about them. Their likes and dislikes. Their strengths and their weaknesses. I want to know their story. I want to be able to produce images that when they look at them, they are brought to tears. For what they are seeing is not just a picture of them but a picture of their soul. 

I realize that telling ones story is not an easy thing to do. We all have doubts and fears. Which is why I'm implementing this *new* little exercise for all of you here on social media. I'm not sure what I'm going to call it... (if you have any ideas let me know 🤣). But every Friday I'm going to reveal little truths about myself. Some will be silly icebreakers, some will be more deep, but all will be 100% honest and true. Because, if I expect you to be vulnerable with me... I realize that I have to do the same! <3

So here is the first one... 

My name. I was, in fact, named after the little mermaid. My parents took my 2 older sisters to the movie theater to see it when my mom was pregnant with me. My dad REALLY loved the name. So he told my mom, "yup! We are naming her Ariel." Before that I was going to be named Alexandria. I am the third girl and all our names start with A's. Ashley, Amber, and Ariel. Did I get made fun growing up because of my name? No... not really. Other than the occasional "mermaid" which didn't really bother me. I've always loved my name. I even considered naming one of my own children after a Disney character just to keep that little thing going. <3 So now its your turn... were you named after anyone special or do you have a special story regarding your name?

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Chris & Kaycee's Rustic Wedding in Beason, Il.

I knew Chris & Kaycee’s wedding would be nothing less than perfection. With her mom, Kathie Richert, being a former photographer and wedding planner I knew the day would be a dream come true for her daughter. And that it was.

It was intimate and personal held at the Bride’s childhood home and it was BEAUTIFUL! Everything from the brides dress, from this little bridal boutique in Bartonville (From Our Heart To Yours), to the receptions s’mores bar was absolutely exquisite. The ceremony and reception were held outside. The guests were brought in to the event in one of the most fun ways I’ve ever seen… on a hay bale ride. Once they arrived, the guests sat on hay bales while snuggling underneath flannel and knit blankets provided for them at the entrance draped across an adorable wooden ladder and in a rustic red wagon. Mums, pumpkins, sunflowers, and all things fall decorated the alter where the bride & groom said their I do’s under a perfect arbor made out of rustic buckets and tree branches inside of a gazebo that was made from the top of a grain bin that they transported 8 miles… built specifically for this event. The reception was held in a white tent, from Tri-County Rentals, and had heat lamps inside to keep us all nice and toasty. The reception tables were dressed with various centerpieces including rustic farmhouse lanterns, candles, and pumpkins made of burlap, from Rustic Love Rentals. The three-tier sunflower cake, made by Diana Hamblen, was so delicious I couldn’t resist having my own slice. The s’mores bar, icee machine, and the open bar were the perfect additions to the fun atmosphere created by the DJ from Woodworth Entertainment. This day was absolute perfection. One thing particularly unique about this reception was the mother-daughter dance. I have never seen this done before and it is something that I will be stealing for my own three daughters weddings. The Bride’s mom had cried off and on all day as she was giving the first of her four daughters away but it was during this first dance that she lost it. The tears of joy, the laughter, the desperate hugging. Ugh… it made my mom heart ache knowing that even though my girls are only 5, 3 and 1… time is deceiving and the years of motherhood are short.

All and all, this day was a dream. And despite the 40 mile per hour winds and BLISTERING cold weather. People were literally moving their trucks on top of the tent’s stakes that were in the ground to keep it from blowing over. The Bride & Groom couldn’t help but smile out of sheer joy. (Also, shout out to the ladies at Hair Plus and makeup artist, Katie Charron, for creating beautiful hairstyles and makeup that withstood this CRAZY weather.) The love between them couldn’t be hidden and was evident to each and every person there. Enjoy some of my favorite moment’s from Chris & Kaycee’s wedding!

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Newborn Photography: Lifestyle vs. Posed

A sweet, nude little babe all sleepy and curled up on a soft blanket wearing an adorable bow or knit cap or swaddled in an adorable wrap. These kinds of posed newborn photographs have become synonymous with the term “newborn photography” over the past five years or so. I love them. We all love them. There is something so serene and pleasing about a brand new life. A baby only days old sleeping peacefully, all curled up and comfy just as they were recently in utero.

Of course, as a newborn photographer, I offer this style of newborn photography to my clients in the Central Illinois area and beyond. I do however also offer an alternative type of newborn photo session, which is slightly less common but equally as beautiful and amazing as an in studio newborn session. Lifestyle newborn photography is becoming one of my favorite sessions that I offer to my clients.

I just wanted to take the time to explain the differences between the two.

1.) Time: Timing is everything when it comes to newborn photography. For an in studio newborn baby photo session I try to get the baby’s in my studio before they are two weeks old. When you are looking for those sleepy, posed shots… the younger the baby, the better! Sleepy, posed shots are not always a guarantee at lifestyle sessions for a variety of reasons. However, if baby does sleep, I can still get those ADORABLE posed shots anywhere!

Time is also important for a posed newborn session because it takes time for me to get them settled into that nice, deep sleep before I start to work with them. Typically the posed newborn sessions take around 3 hours while the lifestyle newborn sessions take around 1-2 hours. The lifestyle newborn session doesn’t take as long simply because it focuses primarily on the interaction between the new baby and his/her family and surroundings and is less centered on obtaining the perfect pose. Therefore, having the baby be under two weeks old is less important. This is particularly helpful for mothers who contact me once the newborn baby is over that magic age for the traditional posed session.

2.) Location: the location for your upcoming newborn session might have you thinking about whether a studio photo session or a lifestyle session is the choice for you. My posed sessions typically take place in my studio, however, I can travel to your home for an additional fee. I will say my studio has everything you needed to provide you with the best experience. I have toys for older siblings, live within walking distance of many local attractions and parks, I have all the equipment and lighting I need to provide you with the images you know and love, all my backdrops, and posing tools are within arms reach. Plus, parents have a nice cozy spot to relax, grab some coffee and a refreshment and watch tv, take a nap, scroll facebook, or whatever you want to do on your little break.

However, I know the thought of traveling with a newborn can be daunting for some parents. Lifestyle newborn sessions can be conducted in the studio, your home, or even outdoor. Whether its images of you snuggling your baby in their nursery or big brother peeking over the crib at his new little sister, these images provide a level of intimacy that you just don’t get during studio sessions.

3.) Connection: Of course all of my clients want to capture some darling images of the newest baby with different family members during the session. Whether its photos with mom & dad or siblings, these treasured images can be obtained at both the lifestyle session AND posed session. However the resulting look is completely different. Whichever you prefer is entirely up to you!

4.) Light: It is true that during a studio session the light is controlled. I know what to expect in my studio and I know when the light comes in big and beautiful at a certain time of day. An in-home lifestyle session obviously cannot offer the same type of assurance. Clients often come to me concerned that their home will not be bright and airy or even pretty enough.

When I walk into a clients home, I’m not looking for the most beautiful room. That is the least of my concerns. Haha! I’m looking for LIGHT! Whether its a screened in front porch (if the weather is nice enough) or the master bedroom…. I’m looking for large windows that provide me with beautiful soft light. The other thing I look for is NEUTRAL rooms. White bedding or walls gives us a gorgeous, non-distracting backdrop to work with while making the baby and their family the focus of the session. The fact of the matter is, if you have one or two bright rooms that I can use to my advantage to provide you with gorgeous images, you will be overjoyed with the personalized newborn photos and treasure them for years to come.


So there you have it! A little 4-1-1 with me to help you decide on which newborn session is right for you!

Military Family Photo Session

I've known Heather and her family for two years now but it feels like forever. But even more than that, Heather, has been a part-time Nanny for my family for a little over a year and we love her to pieces. When they announced last year that they were going to be moving because her husband was going into the military, I knew we would miss her dearly. The weekend before she finally moved we met at the train depot here in Lincoln, Illinois to do one last photo session! The results = perfection! 

Enjoy these sneak peeks from this military family photo session! 

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Killian Kemp's Newborn Session!

A couple years ago I got to be there while Jeremy and Emily Kemp welcomed their sweet little girl Kyleigh into the world. Now, I got to be there to welcome there sweet baby BOY, Killian, in to the world. Weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs. 6 oz., a tad bigger than his 4 lb. sister, he was just as cuddly and cute! It is so fun to be able to be a part of growing families! Something that I never take for granted. Two particular poses I did with Kyleigh, I had to recreate with Killian. One, was baby wrapped in daddy's military gear! And the second was the image with the teddy bear. For generations past in the Kemp family, each time a new baby was born the dad picked out a special teddy bear especially for that child. We made sure to include these teddy bears in each of their newborn photos! Enjoy these sneak peeks from Killian Kemp's Newborn Session! 

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