As summer is nearing the end, I am finally getting back to my blog after a bit of a hiatus from my son's birth. Just a few weeks after Shea was born I was back work. And it all started in one of my favorite parks in the city: Palmer Square Park. I love this park for a few reasons, it's very whimsical filled with trees and green grass, the charming animals sculptures for little ones to play and it's kind of a hidden quiet gem within the busy urban surroundings of Logan Square. When Beth first contacted me I was kind of laughing inside because her husband's name is also Brad! And of course we share the same name too. So when we met for their Maternity Session, we realized we had a few other things in common. I remember asking her if they had any names picked out she mentioned that they were thinking about an Irish names as well. One of my favorite things about being a Lifestyle Photographer is seeing the excitement in the eyes of my couples that are expecting their first baby. Brad and Beth were adorable!
Almost 3 months ago, my little Shea was born on May 15, 2018. It's been a busy summer, so I am finally sharing some of his first photos and birth story. It all started on Mother's Day when my water broke at 1 o'clock in the morning...
I was super shocked to have my water break since I had heard this only happens about 10% of the time. Unfortunately, I was not really in labor yet. I spent the next 24 hours at home, waiting to go into labor. That never happened. So Monday morning we headed to West Suburban Medical Center. I never thought I would need to be induced for my labor, but it happened. I was hooked up to an IV and had to have continuous monitor, which was not my birth plan at all. So around 10am it all began. Or so we thought...
I was on Pitocin for about 12 hours, contractions were definitely stronger, but nothing strong enough to be called active labor. Then, at around midnight on Tuesday I finally was starting to have real tough contractions. 6am Tuesday morning my Midwife checked my dilation. I was 4cm! Doesn't seem like much after 2 days, but it was progress. By about 10am I was kind of losing it and thinking about pain relief methods. So I ended up using Nitrous Oxide aka Laughing Gas. I was on board with this method especially since it can never reach or affect the baby.
Right about this time, two of my sisters showed up at the hospital and it was the best thing ever! With the Nitrous Oxide, Brad and my sisters I was able to relax and be distracted for a bit. A few hours later at 5:30 pm my Midwife check me again and I was 10cm dilated! Finally, after 60+ hours my son, Shea Gaynor Smith was born at exactly 6:40pm on Tuesday, May 15th and was 8lbs 20". And he was born completely healthy! And he actually came out clean, haha. I could not have done it without my husband and my sisters!
Photos below were taking by my sisters, Sarah and Annie Neurauter, my doulas during Shea's birth .
The morning after Shea was born during our stay at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, IL. Photos above of Shea and one with his Aunt Annie.
Shea's first few weeks at home.
As wedding season is about to really start, I have to share this lovely engagement session. I met Lauren and Sagar at Architectural Artifacts in Chicago's Ravenswood Neighborhood. Walking through this vintage warehouse you will find a collection of antique objects and architecture, making a beautiful indoor and outdoor locale for an engagement shoot. Lauren and Sagar where simply adorable as we strolled through the shop and found some cozy corners. I am super excited to be shooting their wedding this fall ♡
A new baby, a sweet big brother and a lovely family. It is always wonderful to see my clients' families grow. Almost two years ago, I photographed this little guy's mama and daddy as they waited for the arrival of their first born little Matteo. And now the darling Gael has joined his big brother! Growing up with a older sister just a year ahead of me, I can see these two becoming best friends. Baby Gael was such a sleepy and happy baby and it was joy to visit and photograph Gael and the sweet Cruz Family ♡
On a snowy April day, I am looking back on a cozy session in-home Newborn Session from this winter. There was so much to love about this session. At just a week old, this little one was happy and alert as can be, smiling and giggling. Two older pup siblings, a beautiful mamma and dad you can see already how much this little one is loved. And finally one of the most beautiful nurseries that I have captured filled with the neutral blue colors of nautical sailing decor ♡
This past week, I was feeling blessed to be present capturing this very sweet marriage proposal at Millennium Park. Bryan and his girlfriend of 6 years had come to Chicago for a week-long vacation from California. Little did Jessica know that this would be more than just a spring trip. As I camouflaged myself among the few everyday tourist visiting Chicago's Cloud Gate or as most people call it "The Bean", I saw Bryan and Jessica walk up to the park. And within seconds of their arrival, Bryan got down on one knee and surprised Jessica with his proposal and of course a gorgeous ring! As I walked up to congratulate Bryan and Jessica, the two were glowing. We then proceeded to stroll through Millennium Park, as I photographed a Mini Engagement Session for the newly engaged Jessica & Bryan: It was truly heartwarming to be there ♡
As winter winds down, I traveled back to one of my favorite indoor shooting locations in Chicago: The Crystal Gardens. Located in one of the most tourist places in Chicago, Navy Pier I always get a little tickled heading to this favorite location. As a city dweller, I always try to avoid this area on warm summer days when I know many tourist crowd the pier. However, I a cold winter morning it is one of the best hidden locations in the city. At 10am you will find a mostly quiet warm, sun-lit garden, perfect for a portrait session with one of my favorite families.
It was just two summers ago that I first photographed the Cruz Family, as they were waiting for the arrival of little Matteo. When I first heard he was going to be an older brother, I was so excited! You see, growing up my older sister, Jennifer and I were just 14 months a part and we were tied like a knot, best friends the moment we met each other. It was also wonderful to see how much Matteo has grown in just 1 year. And now I can't wait to see him with his little brother. You might also remember that I first met Natalia when I was in college, studying abroad in Italy. So, every time we get together for a shoot, it is like a mini reunion. When we first met up for Natalia's first maternity session, Natalia and her hubby Jose had so much excitement and love in their eyes for each other and their soon to be new baby. Now as I watch them, it is wonderful to see them glowing and laughing over their love for him and his new little brother ♡
After a bit of a winter hibernation, I am looking back on some of my favorite sessions from this winter! As a dog person, I am always excited for families to include their fur babies in their photo sessions. This adorable couple and their pup, Leo recently moved all the way from warm sunny California to Chicago in the winter. Luckily, we were all able to get together before the winter chill took over Chicago. The three of them could not be any happier to explore a new city together ♡
As many of my clients know, I work exclusively in-home and on-location for all of my photography shoots. For newborn photography, I feel an in-home session is essential for new parents just learning how to care for their new baby, for parents with multiple children under 5 years olds and for your new baby who is just experiencing life outside the protective and warm space of their mother's womb. To start off the new year, here is a simple in-home newborn photography session. ♡
This year, fall seemed to pass by rather quickly, with an Indian Summer that lasted to October and then we were stormed with a lot of Winter-like weather throughout October and November. Luckily, I got a few great weekends for Fall Sessions. I always love discovering a new shooting locations. At this fall session, I visited Keay Nature Learning Center in Wilmette. A charming bridge that goes over a small stream and winding trails that go through a small forest. It is simply adorable especially for little ones, just learning to walk. Over the summer, this little guy just turned one and this adorable family of three has some exciting news! Check out a few of my favorites from their Fall Photography Session.
One of my joys of being a photographer is having the chance to reconnect and working with my clients again and again over the years! I first met Amanda and Nick when they were engaged and we did a fun session at Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk and along North Avenue Beach. Then last year I was honored to work with them again when they first learned that they were expecting their first baby. This time we met on a chilling winter morning at Millennium Park to shoot an adorable Pregnancy Announcement. And finally at the end of the summer, we met once again for a Maternity Session just weeks before the arrival of their son. I feel very blessed with loving couple and family. Here is a little look back at their past and finally their latest session with me 🖤❤❤❤
It finally seems like summer may be coming to an end, so here's a sweet toddler session from one of my favorite city parks, Palmer Square Park. As my nephews named it "Little Bunny Foo-Foo" Park after the charming clay bunny sculptures that are found as you walk through the park. I had some much fun with little Leah as we strolled around.
I first went to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool when I was studying at DePaul University. I was in a super rad bird science course and we actually went to the Lily Pool as part of our lab, caught and tagged birds. I was amazed that their were not only birds native to the midwest, but many birds migrated from South America for the spring. I am always super excited to shoot at the Lily Pool, especially for an adorable 3 month Photography Session. This little guy and is beautiful mamma and daddy were the best, I had to share a few favorites!!!
I love when I am given the chance to photograph a happy family, both pre-baby and then just at the arrival of their new little one! I love seeing and hearing about the excited a couple has at their Maternity Session. Learning their birth plans, the babies room and the name they are planning or maybe just thinking about. For this happy new momma and dad we started at the Logan Square Memorial on a beautiful sunny spring afternoon just a few weeks before their baby girl arrived. They came with their adorable pup in tow! And finally a few weeks later I got to meet their beautiful baby girl for an in-home Newborn Session. I was certainly in my happy place! Check out just a few favorites from both session ♥️♥️♥️
I love first birthdays! I do not just see it as a child growing 1 year old, but it is a celebration for the entire family who have gone through the first year of their baby's life. This Mini Session was also a blessing because Simone was just a few weeks old when I first met her. 1 year later she is beginning to walk, talk and growing into an adorable toddler. It always feels wonderful to see my little clients grow and I hope to continue that with all my clients. For this session, Simone showed off her new walking skills, giggling along as we took a strolled through Lincoln Park's North Pond trail.
With a busy year, comes a Maternity Session that I photographed several months ago. It was about this time last year that I found out I was going to be aunt again! My lovely sister and I had been talking about doing a little session for almost her entire pregnancy. However, being busy with the holidays, working and my sisters 2 growing boys, it did not seem like we could fit it in. I was just 2 days from leaving on a 10 day trip to Hawaii, not to mention my sister's Due Date was just a week a way but I got the call from a sis. I could not ask for a more beautiful momma for this session ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
This past year has simple been a new exciting adventure for me! I have started to offer Birth Doula and Birth Photography, which has always been one of my dreams. Growing up in a big family having three sisters, my mom and her sisters and grandmothers I was surrounded by many wonderful female mentors. It's no wonder I chose a career of working with mostly women. And so it simply was a joy to photograph this little guy at just a day old and later with his adorable older sister, which started as a Doula client and evolved to so much more. Here are a few favorites from two sessions. ♡
January, I was truly blessed to be a photographer. It was exciting to photograph many new babies that were welcomed just at the start of the new year. Here's a few favorite photographs from my session with darling, little Haisley ❤ ❤ ❤
This past spring, my sister first told she was expecting again, but I already had a feeling! There was just something new, exciting and different about her, I knew that she must be pregnant. A few months later I had dream that she had her baby, a girl with dark hair! In my head, I thought that can't be with to older brothers who were both born bald and later grew beautiful blonde locks. Minutes before my nephews met their new little sibling, they were chanting "[It's a] Boy! Boy! Boy! Boy!". And to the surprise of my whole family a baby girl with dark hair was born. My family could not be, more in love. ❤ ❤ ❤
A sprig of Rosemary, holiday leggings and an adorable new little one. There was nothing more exciting than hearing about all the new little holiday babies born last month! I was so excited to photograph this little guy.