Mini Sessions for Jenny!

Most of you read on my facebook page last week, the news that my assistant, Jenny Swanson, has recently been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  As I type that sentence, I realize that still doesn’t quite seem real to me.  Many of you have had the pleasure of working with Jenny when you book a photo session with me.  Several years ago, as my business was taking off, I realized that I LOVED taking and editing the photos, but simply dreaded dealing with all of the emails and scheduling nightmares.  Jenny was a friend of mine, who I had hired to do some editing in the past, and I asked if she’d be interested in the job.  I thank God for her every single day.  She keeps my calendar organized and responds to emails with such a sweet spirit, she makes it nearly impossible for clients to get mad at me.  🙂  If I need to tell a client I am booked, or (ahem…) you forgot to pay me, Jenny to the rescue!  

But of course Jenny is WAY more than just my assistant.  She and her husband, Jeff, have three great kids and their youngest is just about my Alita’s age.  She is a home schooling mom and pours her heart and soul into her family.  She and Jeff love Jesus like no other, and their faith is such an inspiration to me and those around them.  As you can imagine, a cancer diagnosis can test anyone, but they remain steadfast and strong- using this opportunity to share their faith openly with others.  

Please take a minute to read their blog- they both post there and do a fantastic job of giving specific prayer requests for all of those prayer warriors out there.  They manage to write beautifully about this time in their lives and give updates on how Jenny is doing, especially since she started her chemo treatment this past Monday.

Here is a recent shot of Jenny and her family that a neighbor took of them.  I’m hoping to get in a session for them soon, we were supposed to have a session together last weekend, and unfortunately poor Jenny was stuck in the doctor’s office and ER dealing with a problem with the port in her arm.  But I’m not giving up yet- I’m determined to get them in front of my camera as soon as Jenny feels up to it.   

Her kids (from left to right) are:  T.J., Mia and Toby.  Seriously cute kids, I always love when I get to photograph- total photographer’s dream.  🙂


While I wish there was so much more I could do, like wipe that darn cancer right out of her, I want to start by helping their family raise funds towards their mounting medical bills.  They have a long road ahead of them, starting with her first rounds of chemo that will last for the next three months.  That will be followed by surgery, then another 9 weeks of chemo.  I hope to do several fundraisers in year ahead, but I would love to get something in the works right away.

So- I’d like to start by auctioning off the ever-popular mini sessions!!  🙂  I plan to auction off three sessions (so better the chance of you winning!) and will add more if we get over 100 donations.  Here is how it works…

1)  Donate $20 for every raffle ticket towards a free mini session, which will include all of your edited full resolution photo on a disc.  If you don’t need a mini session for yourself right now- save the certificate to use anytime next year or give it to a friend as a gift.  Perfect Christmas gift for a family in the area, don’t you agree?  

2)  Send your donation to me via paypal using my email-

EVERY PENNY WILL BE GOING STRAIGHT TO JENNY.  I’ll be sure to update everyone on the exact amount we are able to raise and I can’t wait to present her family with a check from all of YOU! 

3)  Double your chances of winning by posting this blog or my Facebook status on your Facebook page.  If you “share” on your page, I’ll add another raffle ticket for you in the drawing.  Just let me know you’ve “shared”.  Please help spread the word!

4)  We will be doing the drawing on this WEDNESDAY evening, October 30th.  So all entries need to be in by 7:00 pm on Wednesday.  I’ll video the drawing and let you know if your name was chosen by playing it on my facebook page.  I have three daughters here ready to choose the three winners and they can’t wait to announce who won!  I am choosing a winner rather soon because I’d love for you to be able to get your mini session in this coming weekend if you’d like.  Great fall colors right now and the temps are supposed to be in the 50’s.  So you can still get those Christmas card shots in that you were kicking yourself for missing.  😉

O.K.- that’s it.  Simple, right?  Now- please jump over to the paypal site and let’s get this started!  I’ll keep updating you through out the week to let you know how it’s going.  Thanks for helping provide a bright spot for this family, I can’t wait to drop off her check from the greatest clients in the world! 🙂





Fall Mini Sessions for 2013

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It’s that time of year again! Fall mini sessions are always a client favorite- we work hard to make them quick, painless, and most of all- beautiful! I’ve found a gorgeous spot in Long Grove; lots of trees, a rustic bridge, and a wooden fence- all the makings for some pretty fall photos.

This year I’m running things a little differently than usual, so please take note of the changes. As most of you know, I’ve recently had our fourth daughter, so I’m making some intentional changes in the way I run my schedule so I don’t have to be away from her too long. (hey- she’s my last one, I gotta make it count!) 🙂
So, please take a minute to read through the details:

1) I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of my loyal clients and I want to be sure they get “first dibs” on the ever-popular mini sessions. So this year I’ll be allowing them to take their pick of dates first, and anything that doesn’t get filled within a week, I will open up to new clients. If you are a repeat client- yay- great news for you! If you are a new client, I sincerely hope to have room for you or see you in the upcoming year for a full session.

2) The price this year will be $150 per family of four or less. Additional fee of $25 per extra person. As always, the price includes all of your digital files on a CD with full printing rights. These photos make the perfect Christmas cards and you are allowed to have them printed wherever you wish.

3) BIG CHANGE this year…. in order to secure you spot, you must mail a $50 deposit within 10 days of booking your session. Sadly, I’ve had too many “no shows” in the past, or clients who have cancelled at the last minute and it causes me to miss being able to fill the empty spot. The $50 is refundable up to 48 hours before your session. If your schedule changes, or someone is sick, just let me know within 48 hours and I’ll be happy to send you the refund. As always, if the weather does not cooperate, I will be offering times to do a make-up and will work with each family to be sure we complete your session.

4.) Instead of packing in 25+ sessions in one wild and crazy day- I’ll be working for just 1-2 hours and scheduling just 4-8 families each of the mini session days. This will allow me to shoot during the best time of day for lighting and gives me the freedom to get back home to my sweet girlies without being gone for a marathon day.

Please note the only way to sign-up for a mini session is to click on this link and fill out the form:

There are way too many ways to contact me and I end up losing track of all of the requests through emails (both business and personal), Facebook (both business and personal), voicemails, text messages, Instagram comments and clients running into me at the grocery store! 🙂 I always think I’ll remember to get your name in a spot, and sadly my memory just isn’t what it used to be! So please, take a minute and fill out the form so I make sure to remember.

Looking forward to another great year of photos!


Summer Mini Sessions…

In the hopes to meet so many client’s needs, I’ll be offering (nearly) weekly summer mini sessions starting July.  Instead of doing one or two long days (to save my sanity!), I’ll be shooting just four a day, so I can race back home to my nursing baby.  The location is perfect for evening light, making for soft warm tones on a sandy beach with pretty tall grass behind, ideal for a summer shoot.  I grabbed my oldest daughter last night and spent literally less than 10 minutes there to grab a few shots for my own walls.

summer mini sessions

Mommy confession time: I notice I often dream (read: obsess) about getting lovely photos of all of my kids together. Those certainly have their value, but I forget how beautiful shots of each of my kids alone can be. It allows me to focus on just them, their own individual personality and look. Emma and I had an awesome time at the beach, and instead of my sweetly asking (read: grumpy pleading) of her to hold her sister a certain way, or sit still while I situate her younger sisters, it got to be all about her. It made for such a fun night. So if you haven’t gotten any individual shots of your kids lately- keep that in mind. It can be such a peaceful experience. 🙂
That being said (or typed in this case)… families are welcome for mini sessions and we will certainly work to grab that fantastic sibling shot. These particular mini sessions are geared towards families with older kids since they are photographed later in the evening and involve water.
Here is a little peek into my super fast shoot with Emma. She is literally growing up before my eyes these past couple months. She enters middle school this fall and I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady she is becoming. Beautiful inside and out and navigating this new world of “tween” life better than I could have hoped. So glad I took a bit of time to capture this sweet age…







IMG_5518Shoot me an email at: to set up a summer mini session for your family!


Winter- the good, the bad, and the beautiful

Winter time in the Chicago area for photography brings good news and bad news.  The good news is that business slows down a bit, giving me a chance to breathe, catch up the rest of my life, and dream of new ideas for my business before things get busy again.   And best of all, I have a little time to get some shots of my own girlies, although never as many as I’d like.  Here is sweet Alita trying out the snow for the first time…

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The bad news is that gone are the days of heading to a pretty park, enjoying the gorgeous outdoors, and using soft sunlight.  Instead I find myself shlupping (I think that’s a real word) through ice and snow to a client’s home, carrying lighting equipment, reflectors, and anything else I can use to help produce any extra light that the sun isn’t providing me.  Truth is, I mostly despise it.  I’ve never been a winter girl.  No amount of hot chocolate and snowmen can change my mind.  I’m always dreaming of the long days of summer, when flip flops are the only thing sitting beside my back door, instead of the current mess of wet mittens, hats, coats, and boots.  I’d take a 100 degrees outside anytime- I swear, I really never ever complain about the heat (you can check my Facebook status this summer to confirm).  Plus all three (and soon to be four) of my daughters were born in the summer, so it continues to be a happy and celebratory time of year.

But I digress.  Despite all of this, I always forget how much I end up loving the shots I get out of in-home sessions.  It is fun for me to see how my client’s live and decorate, and how comfortable their kids are in their own environment.  They love to show off their bedrooms and playrooms and I get to have fun experimenting with new lighting and angles to make each space work.  I tend to gravitate towards the images of “realness”, not posed, just families being families in their space.  My hope is always that those are the images they will treasure 20 years from now.  I’ve had the joy of photographing so many fantastic families over the last 3 winter months, and since today is a “snow day” in Chicago, I thought this might be the perfect day to stay inside, warm cup of coffee in hand, and update this neglected blog.  🙂  Enjoy!

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Valentine Mini Sessions last chance- this Saturday, February 9th

Last weekend I had the treat of having 25+ families here for their Valentine mini sessions.  Thankfully my clients braved the ice and snow to make it here and I couldn’t have been happier with how all the kiddos did (thanks in part to my amazing assistants who do a fantastic job of getting those giggles).  Several clients have asked if there is any way, pretty pretty please, I could add one more day since last weekend didn’t work for everyone.  Lucky for you I’ve added one last chance, this Saturday, February 9th.

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I’d love to see your little Valentine here!  If you’d like to join me, please sign up for a session here:

And of course, no blog post is any good without some cute pictures, so here is a peek at my sessions last weekend…

4 5 8 17 21 26 28 30 One shot from my attempt to photograph my own girls… and this was by far my most difficult shoot of the day.  I had my friend, Lisa, here to witness that photographer’s kids really are the toughest to get.  Not that I lost my patience or anything.  No, never.  But they redeemed themselves with one picture that I loved. It was NOT as planned, but hey- it worked.  🙂31 46 51 68 75 76Hope to see your little Valentine’s on Saturday!  And if you are feeling extra sweet, would you mind sharing this post on your Facebook page?  It is all of you who keep this business alive and well! 🙂

Photography Classes and More…

I start off each year the same way, dreaming of new things I want to focus on for my business.  This year I’m excited to be offering more “Mommies With Cameras” classes as well as (finally!) a “Mommies With Cameras TWO”, for those who have taken my first course.  I’m also interested in doing more mentoring for those out there who have recently started their own photography business or looking to start one soon.  Being a former teacher, I’ve found I love the chance to work with others and help them discover ways to grow their photography business as well as their photography skills.

So here is a breakdown of my classes with descriptions and dates.  I’d love to see you at one soon!

Mommies With Cameras I:  This course is for women who own an SLR camera (meaning you can remove the lens and it also allows you to shoot in manual setting).  We start at the beginning, learning about the three components to shooting in manual:  ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.   I break them down, making sure you know how to adjust them in your camera, and understand why they are essential to getting the perfect photos.  We discuss difficult photography situations that moms deal with all the time- from the soccer fields to the dance recitals, we cover it all.  The class is four hours giving us plenty of time to practice, photograph kids outside (weather permitting) and inside, and I keep the classes small so I can help each person individually with any questions they have about their camera.  The class includes a workbook filled with information, my recommendations for camera equipment, how to find the best lighting, and my tips for getting the perfect shots of your kids, friends and family members!

My desire is for you to learn to use natural light, in the simplicity of your own home, and create timeless photos all year long.


If you or someone you know is interested in joining me for a class, here are the details you need to know…

Cost:  $100

Location:  My home in Lake Zurich

Upcoming Dates:

  • Saturday, March 2, 1:00-5:00
  • Saturday, May 18 (perfect mother’s day gift!), 1:00-5:00
  • Saturday, August 3, 1:00-5:00

Sign up by clicking here:

Mommies With Cameras II- new course!!

Ok, so you’ve been asking for this one and I’ve continued to promise it will happen.       SO finally I’m ready! 🙂  This course is only for those that have taken Mommies With Cameras 1 and ready to review what we learned and learn some more!  We will address more difficult lighting situations, learn new lighting techniques like backlighting, and working lots more with models.  My goal is to hold these classes at Citizen’s Park in Barrington, weather permitting, so we get lots of experience outside.  I’ll help you identify the best lighting and background spots in a park and how to use those ideas in your own backyards.

My goal is for you to walk away even more confident shooting in manual, ready to try some new lighting techniques,  have your specific questions answered about any problems you are having in your photography since you took my first class, and totally ready to catch those candid moments in your family.


Here are the details for all of those interested:

Cost:  $75


  • Saturday, April 27th, 2:30-4:30
  • Saturday, July 13th, 3:30-5:30
  • Saturday, September 7th, 3:00-5:00

Location:  Citizen’s Park in Barrington, IL  *weather pending

Sign up by clicking here!

And last, but not least…

Mentoring Sessions-  These are for those who have recently started a photography business, or plan to be soon, and looking for ways to grow their business and produce high quality photos for their clients.  These sessions are done one-on-one and normally held in the evenings.  If you are interested, please contact me for specific prices and availability.  Mentoring can be done in person, or over the phone.  Please note this is not open to any photographers in the Lake Zurich or Barrington area.

Sign up by clicking here!

I’m so excited for all to come in 2013… although my first love will always be photographing your sweet little ones, I always get a fresh dose of energy when I get to teach another class.  Looking forward to lots of time with some mommies with cameras this year!


Pssst- want to help me spread the word??  Please share this blog on your facebook page and bring a friend!



Valentine Mini Sessions- booking now!

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It’s that time of year again! I’m offering Valentine Mini Sessions on Friday, January 25th and Sunday, January 27th (afternoon only). Please click on this link to sign up!
The sessions will take place at my in-home studio in Lake Zurich and will last 20 minutes. I’ll have some Valentine props and backdrops, or we can go classic and simple, your choice. Looking forward to seeing some cute little sweethearts in my camera!
*please note, because my studio space is small, these are for children only, and unfortunately for groups of 3 or less

Summer Babies (A.K.A. Baby Fever Warning)

I had my fair share of babies to photograph this summer.  I was feeling extra grateful that I already had a sweet baby of my own at home, so baby fever didn’t kick in to a dangerous level.

But seriously, how irresistible is this guy?

And this little guy snuggling with his mom melts my heart every time…

This sweet girl is the 5th child, after FOUR boys in a row.  Don’t you know her mom is treasuring every little pink moment.  🙂

And I loved my outdoor session with this gorgeous girl, who sure loved her daddy…

And this little man was a photographers dream.  Sweet, cute and smiley.  🙂And the best part about this particular shoot?  Much to his mommy’s delight, he took his very first steps while I was snapping away.  Perfect moment that I’ll never forget!

I love when I get to photograph a baby when he is all brand new.  Loved my time with this precious boy, perfect little model for his first photo shoot.

Love those sleepy shots…

Has baby fever set in yet?  This little one might put you over the edge…

Have I mentioned I love my job lately?  It doesn’t get much better than spending time with new mommies and their pride and joy.  Looking forward to watching these kiddos grow over the years, I’m feeling blessed to be a part of it!


Alita is 1!



So for weeks (er, months) I’ve had that nagging feeling far, far back in my head.  A little voice that says, “you should really update your blog”.  But a louder voices are calling things like, “finish editing, play with the baby, pick out new paint colors and floors, return emails, and for heaven’s sake- do some laundry”.  So the blog always get pushed to last.  Poor thing.  So today, I once again don’t have time to do much of anything on this blog, but I have a new mantra.  I DO have time for ONE photo.  Right?  My sweet baby girl turned one this weekend.  Every parent says it, and it’s always true.  The year went crazy fast.  It was a bittersweet day- excited for what this year will bring, and so sad it is over.  We are waiting to have a “real party” until we move back into our home (have I mentioned we are doing a major remodel and adding a second floor), but we did a small Hernandez gathering on Friday.  Of course Alita had no idea what the fuss was about, but we loved celebrating this sweet girl God sent us a year ago.  

Here she is with all of her cousins.  I interrupted a soccer game (hence the sweating kids) in the backyard.  It wasn’t great lighting nor the perfect location, but a picture I bet she’ll hang on to one day.  (And if anyone can get my nephew to smile for a photo, you’re hired).

Happy Birthday beautiful girl- you’ve brought more joy to our family than I knew was possible.  What a fun year it has been!Image 

New Mommy and Daddy-to-be

I loved my afternoon with this adorable couple… perfect light, great weather, pretty location, and the sweetest couple to work alongside.  They are so excited to meet their daughter, Grace, and since I get the honor of doing her newborn photos, I’m just as excited myself.  🙂   ImageAnd seriously… could this couple be any cuter?


SUCH a pretty mama!Image



Best wishes Kirstin and Will- can’t wait to meet your sweet baby girl!