peoria illinois family photographer

The Future of Photography- Central Illinois Lifestyle Family Session

You know what’s better than fighting over outifts, threatening your kids, bribing them, doing the same thing with your husband, all to get a bunch of fake smiles? Not doing that.

As an artist it is important for me to do “creative projects” a.k.a projects that are unpaid, are completely my own, that inspire me, challenge my creativity and come straight from my heart… And that’s EXACTLY what this session was.

I approached my friend Shannon about doing this for me with her 2 year old son Judd and she was willing!

At first her objections were those that I hear most with these types of sessions… I don’t have a headboard… my house isn’t finished… my comforter isn’t “pretty”, etc. I told her that I thought headboards were distracting anyway. And that it would be perfect! I just told her dress comfy and maybe get a couple of throw pillows. (Which, shoutout to Walmart for having these AMAZING throw pillows below!) So she complied ;). Thanks, Friend.

The results were amazing. Pure joy, no frustration, playfulness, connection, interaction, bonding, gratefulness, and NO bribing!!!! WHAT!?!?! I know right. In fact, Judd didn’t WANT to stop playing with momma on the bed to get pictures.

My whole experience boasts of being a holistic one. Everything from the process before the session to the session itself, to photo delivery is designed to make you reflect, bring you joy, remind your heart to be grateful, and give you endurance to keep investing in these special relationships day after day.

I think this… lifestyle sessions--in your own home…  is the FUTURE of photography. Outdoor pictures are beautiful and you absolutely CAN get amazing and playful shots that highlight your connection while outside in these environments. But there is something about being in your home, not a studio, in comfy clothes that makes kids happy and bonus: cooperative. The whole vibe of the session is relaxing and truly fills you with an overwhelming thankfulness. I hope this session inspires you to do one of these for yourself. I would love to show you the beauty that exists in YOUR everyday life.

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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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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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Locations: the good, the bad, and the ugly

When you book a session with me I send you a personalized Portrait Session Style Guide. In this valuable resource I talk about some things that I look for in a photo location as well as outfit selection, color choices, etc. Today we are going to talk about the location selection process for your session (If you want to know more about outfit selection, check out this live video I posted on Facebook where I actually choose an entire family's wardrobe for a photo session located HERE. ). 

Here are a couple of tips when considering location:

1.) LIGHT! Light is THE MOST IMPORANT aspect of photography. If you are wanting your session toward the middle of the day, try to choose a location that has open shade. If you have an early morning session or evening session, location selection is a bit more flexible because of the sun's placement.

2.) Think outside the box!  Brainstorm unique locations that you might have special access to that most people don't. Maybe it's a private estate, country club or resort, family ranch, upscale hotel, airplane hanger, or a rooftop view. The sky is literally the limit! Spend a few minutes thinking about it and you'll be surprised what you can come up with. When you feel connected to the location of your session, your images will become that much more special!

3.) Multiple Spots! I like to choose locations that have multiple different picture points within the same location that way you get a variety of different images. 

4.) Texture!  Whether that's Wood, Brick, dirt roads, fences, old barns, rust, chipped paint, flowers, moss, vines, sand, rocks, stones, etc. All of these things translate to BEAUTIFUL photographs! 

5.) SPACE! This is something that is vitally important if you have littles that wont sit still. Think kids age 1.5-3. It is nearly impossible to take these littles to a location where they have to sit still whether that's a downtown busy street or a studio. I always recommend an outdoor spot with lots of space that is not busy (not tons of other people around), and not surrounded by other houses, buildings, or other distracting content. That way, I will be able to chase them around, play with them, get real genuine smiles without having to worry about other people, distracting background stuff, etc. 

Remember, while there might be a few exceptions, there is never really a wrong place to shoot.

Enjoy some sneak peeks from this photo session. This sweet couple has been married for 33 years. To commemorate they booked a photo session at the exact same spot they got married. This time they had their children and grandchildren join in. The results are beautiful! 

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What your photo session and paw patrol have in common...

Paw Patrol... Paw Patrol... we'll be there on the double.... 

If you are a parent, you know what Paw Patrol is. Talking about Paw Patrol (or whatever their favorite child's show is) is one awesome way I get your kids to warm up to me. Singing the theme song does get me some pretty good laughs and smiles from everyone while behind the camera. But Paw Patrol and our Photo Sessions have more in common than that!

1.) Fun! Just like each episode of Paw Patrol, I want each of my photo sessions to be fun for everyone involved! Relax! Come into the session with a good attitude. If you have a "happy heart," as I tell my 5 year old, everyone else will too. Don't worry about your kids. I've seriously seen it all and I promise your kids are not stressing me out or acting as bad as you might think they are. The photos always end up wonderful! 

2.) Short & Sweet! Each paw patrol episode is 20 minutes long and is typically comprised of two different 10 minute story lines that center around the same theme (WHY DO I KNOW THIS??? *insert crying face here*). Much like the quick and painless episodes of paw patrol... my photo sessions are also quick and painless. Something your kids, your husband, and you will appreciate. 

3.)  Musical. Bet you didn't think this one would be in here, huh? Silly songs and noises and acting goofy is one way I get some amazing smiles and laughter out of your kids (and even you parents). So once you arrive at your session, prepare to be serenaded. Ha! 

4.) Problem Solving! Each episode of paw patrol has a problem to solve. Similarly, each photo session has problems to solve as well. Not only with getting kids to smile, posing each individual family member, etc. But also solving the problem that each and every one of my clients have. That is... forgetfulness. We as humans are naturally forgetful. We try to remember but it really is hard. That's why we all agree to have more than one child (child birth hurts, ya'll, can I get an amen!?!). It is my job to help you remember. Not only to remind you right now of how incredibly blessed your life is, but remember how you and your kids looked at this time in their life, what made them giggle, the big belly laughs, how much they loved that bunny stuffed animal, or whatever it may be. It is my job to help you remember today, tomorrow, always. 

5.) Teamwork. The paw patrol team is comprised of multiple pups each serving a different purpose with their different strengths and talents. This is just like me in the sense that each client is unique. I strive to catch that individuality on camera. I do this by putting in a lot of time BEFORE each session. I have all of my clients fill out a short client information form about you, your kids, your family, your likes, dislikes, etc. Why? Because once I know who you are and who your kids are, that is where the magic happens. I can only photograph your beauty once I have discovered it. Therefore, TEAMWORK, (you filling out the forms, picking out awesome clothes, etc.) (me studying your forms, finding perfect locations, perfect light, capturing smiles, editing, etc.) is one of the most VITAL things that makes our time together successful. 

Enjoy some sneak peeks from the Curry Family Session where LOTS of paw patrol songs were sang! 

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