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One of the hardest things about motherhood....

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One of the hardest things about having kids is knowing that they were never meant to stay in your arms. 

While we will forever be changed by the days they explored the world safely within our reach, they were meant to walk, and run, and discover for themselves. They were created to touch, see and feel. Our arms will always be outstretched to hold them, but a mother also knows that motherhood, with each passing day, is a gradual process of letting go. 

One day they will find it better to sleep in their own bed instead of mama's arms and they will sleep all night long! One day they will have more friends than just mommy & daddy. One day they will pick out their own clothes & take care of themselves. And while we are their voice right now, one day they will have their own voice. 

Time may be a thief but it is also a joyous gift. And as momma's the greatest gift in our lives is the time spent with them. <3

Hold them a little longer today, mama's. As you already know... it goes WAY. TO. FAST.

Above is Murphy as a newborn. Enjoy some of the images from her 6 month session below!!!!

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Avery's First Birthday Photo Session-- Photos by Ariel Studio, Lincoln, Illinois

First Birthday’s are a busy time for momma’s! Trying to plan that first birthday party and then all the emotions that come with your baby turning ONE! I make it my mission as your photographer to make your life easier, not add to your stress! That is why for your first birthday session I provide the cake, the stand, the décor, the outfits, the props…. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. All you have to do is tell me what colors scheme you want and bring your ADORABLE baby! I take care of finding the outfits, ordering the cake, picking up the cake, finding the perfect props, etc. :)

Sweet Avery just turned one and every single image is so beautiful I think I can literally hear my jaw hitting the floor. I am a people-centered photographer. What I mean by that is that I like my subjects to be the focus of all of my images, not the background, not the props, not even the sky (when we are outside). When people look at this image, I want theme to see YOU first. <3 Clean, Crisp, and Timeless is always my motto!

Cake below was made by Emily Jackson out of Mount Pulaski, IL. Enjoy these sneak peeks from Avery’s First Birthday Session!


Staci & Kevin's Intimate Wedding at Lake Bloomington in Bloomington, Illinois

August & September have been a busy month for me. I’ve been in the process of rebranding my business, streamlining processes, client management systems, questionnaire designs and so many other things. Not to mention that August was probably the BUSIEST month for me with number of sessions so far in 2018. Staci & Kevin’s wedding was something I desperately needed. Because when I photograph a wedding, I get to step out of the crazy of everyday life and completely immerse myself in other people which is something we all need sometimes. After being so focused on our own lives, it is such a gift to be able to spend an entire weekend putting two other people FIRST. To wonderful opportunity to forget anything and everything that’s happening in my own world and be invited in to one of the most important days in someone else’s world.

Staci & Kevin’s wedding was so beautifully coordinated. It was held at Lake Bloomington in Bloomington Illinois. They had a rich color palette filled with blush pinks, whites, tans, and succulent greens. Blush pink roses intermixed with white roses and baby’s breath. Hints of lace. Succulent greens vines, over white washed wood. Every single detail of their day was stunning.

The day started at Magnolia Salon in Bloomington, Illinois. Let me just say, that I have been in a LOT of getting ready places and this one was BY FAR my favorite getting ready location I’ve ever been in. The paint colors, the decor, the mirrors, the chairs, the beautiful hard wood floors and gorgeous one-of-a-kind woodwork were just a few of my favorite things. Not to mention the white rustic fireplace and floor to ceiling windows giving the whole entire salon a bright and airy feel. I’m not kidding. This place looks like it was decorated by the actual Chip & Joanna Gaines. Not only that, the owner & bride’s sisters-in-law to be, Jessica Yamada, was sweeter than pie. She was friendly and made everyone feel relaxed and stress-free. Just what you want on a wedding day!

The next place we went to was Ewing Cultural Center. While I have done regular photo sessions here before, I have always DREAMED of doing wedding photos here. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single square inch of this place is jaw-hitting-the-ground gorgeous! It is impossible to get a bad backdrop! This was the PERFECT location for the bride and groom’s intimate first look moment! The groom started the first look by reading a sweet letter that his bride had written him all while his bride came down a set of historic stone steps, making her way toward her groom. Once she tapped him on the shoulder, he turned around and all the hugs, smiles, and joy ensued. After the first look we spent some time getting some bride & groom shots as well as some shots of the bridal party before heading to our next location!

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The next stop was Lake Bloomington where the ceremony took place outdoors. The view of the lake from their ceremony was breathtaking. The couple was married under a white arbor traced with beautiful green vines and pinecones. The ceremony was quite intimate with a guest list only around 50 people long, filled only with the closest friends and family. The guests sat in white chairs with the end of each row adorned with bouquets of babies breath. After the ceremony, the reception took place in a cabin just a couple yards away from the ceremony location. There were white tablecloths, blush pink and white centerpieces, and mason jar mugs that also served as gifts for all of their guests. The mugs were craved with the couples names and wedding date. The desert table was decorated with a beautiful tiered wooden cupcake stand filled with delicious chocolate and vanilla cupcakes made by Sam Danosky, a baker located out of Lincoln Illinois. After the traditional reception festivities, I grabbed the couple and we snuck outside by the lake to get some last pictures taken in the last 10 minutes before the sun disappeared on their beautiful wedding day.

Staci and Kevin! Congratulations! I wish you two a lifetime of happiness and love! Thank you so much for choosing me to document your wedding day. Enjoy these sneak peeks!

Surprise Proposal at Hill Prairie Winery in Oakford, Illinois

Abigail and Jason are just a couple of high school sweethearts who just didn’t know it at the time! :) They knew each other throughout high school and college but never dated despite the fact that both their moms worked together and discussed this idea. :) After college, Abigail moved back home to Lincoln, Illinois to work as the Program Coordinator at Lincoln Park District. Well, part of her job is to network with other community organizations and then alas her and Jason were reunited at Lincoln Rotary Club. They began dating and the rest is history. Whenever they would talk about their plans for the future, Jason would always tell Abigail… I will not propose until 2020, I will not propose until 2020. So this is always the thought that Abigail had in the back of her mind.

The couple enjoys regular date days together. They love to explore local wineries, go to wine tastings, and enjoy going on walks with their pug puppy, Penny. They are simply the perfect match. In fact, I did photos for Abigail’s family in December and their mom was confident enough to print off a giant family portrait that INCLUDED Jason. When I was chatting with her she said, “Some people though it was presumptuous but the moment I met him, I just knew.” *CUE ALL THE TEARS*

Well, I got a phone call a couple of weeks ago from Jason and he was asking me what I thought about photographing a proposal. I told him I would be HONORED. I had loved working with the Neece family in December and it would be my pleasure to do it again. Well, he began to tell me his plan of proposing to her at “The Farm” In Petersburg, IL. and then heading over to Hill Prairie Winery for what she would believe to be a short engagement session but instead be a surprise party! We planned everything perfectly. Where to stand, where to face, lighting, where to have her turn, where I was hiding, how to dress, literally ALL THE THINGS were thought of.

Well…. as many of you know Tropical Storm Gordon caused a torrential downpour last week. And the beautiful garden at the farm where he planned on proposing got FLOODED… and on top of that, he didn’t find that out until the morning he was supposed to propose!

Jason and I had many back and forth text conversations about what plan B would be trying to be ever so careful that Abigail didn’t overhear or question anything. So, I told him I would get to Hill Prairie Winery an hour before him to scout out a good location and then text him the instructions. So, I got my umbrella, all my gear and put on my rainboots and headed that way.

While he was driving to the winery I was sending him photos of where to park, where to bring her, etc. I was so, so nervous and yet so, so excited! (Come to find out from Abigail that he told her he was “checking his fantasy football draft.” :)

Once they arrived, he headed down to the spot between the two ponds as instructed. I was hiding behind a giant bush. He got down on one knee and asked her to marry him and she said YES! She was shocked! I mean, have you ever seen a happier Bride-to-Be? Her expression was priceless and she just kept saying, “It’s not 2020 yet… It’s not 2020 yet…” Jason did it! He pulled off the PERFECT surprise proposal! A perfect day, for a perfect couple, making the perfect story that they will enjoy telling for years to come! Thank you guys for trusting me to capture this once-in-a-lifetime memory for you!

After the proposal I took a couple photos of them and then instructed them to go inside the winery so we could get some photos inside. Little did Abigail know this was just a little white lie to get her inside so she could enjoy her SURPRISE party that her fiancé had planned for her! He literally thought of everything. And as if that isn’t enough surprises for one day, he gave a toast during the party and announced to Abigail that he had already bought the tickets for them to take a surprise trip to Portland, Oregon together!

Congratulations Jason & Abigail! Cheers to you and the lifetime of happiness to come!

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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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