Shoot & Share Contest Results

This was my second year submitting to the Shoot and Share photography contest and this was my second year of making to the top 10%! This year there were over 400,000 photographs submitted by photographers from all over the world. This year one of my favorite engagement session photos made it to the Top 10%! I had 4 photos in the Top 20% and 7 in the Top 30%. Needless to say, I'm pretty ecstatic with those results.

I really enjoy this contest because it's fun and completely fair. It's a free global contest that anyone can enter. There are 25 categories and each photographer is allowed to submit up to 50 photographs. When voting opens up voters are unaware who submitted the photos therefore resulting in completely unbiased and fair voting.

 

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Jeanna & Josh | Lifestyle Session | Bradley, Illinois

So what is a lifestyle session? That's a question I often hear. A lifestyle session is as real as it gets. It's a photography session with more of an organic documentary approach but in an artistic fashion.

Typically, a lifestyle session would be done in the client's home, outdoors, a park, you name it. My favorite is in the client's home, especially if my clients have small children. Way less stress, you guys! I never pose but rather suggest starting points such as snuggle, play a game, or tell silly jokes. I prefer this type of approach no matter what session I do. But a lifestyle session is so much more laid back. Less pressure = more relaxed clients and genuine smiles. This not only works with families but works great with couples too! 

For this particular lifestyle session I visited Jeanna and Josh in their beautiful old home (I'm a sucker for old houses) on a foggy Monday morning. I was happy to meet baby Hazel and see silly Hattie again! If you've ever dealt with a toddler you know that they rule the show. Since I was on her terms she was much more relaxed. Same goes for mom! She just had a baby for crying out loud! I remember those days. The thought of leaving the house with my new nursling gave me anxiety. I sat back with my camera like a fly on the wall photographing their family just doing their thing. Every once in awhile I would make a suggestion to read a book together or play blocks. No posing, no asking anyone to look at the camera and smile. Just genuine interactions and giggles. 

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Arriah | Portrait Session | Lowell, Indiana | Part 2

It was a warm day in the sun. Arriah's beautiful complexion glows in the sunlight while the dress and location give off a vintage vibe. On this particular day we photographed in an urban setting (see Part 1) and a more rural setting, Buckley Homestead. I absolutely love it when clients give me free reign for ideas. I own a lot of vintage gowns, some of which were my grandma's. This particular dress Arriah is wearing was my grandma's and there's a good chance she may have even made this dress. 
 

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Arriah | Portrait Session | Lowell, Indiana | Part 1

Part 1 because we crammed in a conceptual session in the same day. Boom! Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 because it's quite different!

It's January 2nd and -2°. Yes, NEGATIVE TWO!

I'm cozied up under my electric heated blanket, snuggly sweater, and fuzzy slippers while updating website when it hits me that I never got around to blogging one of my favorite portrait sessions of 2017. It was very warm and sunny day, unlike today. 

So if you're freezing your toes off like me, enjoy the sun and warmth in these photos of Arriah! You may recognize her from other another session that I blogged last year. Arriah wants to get into modeling and I highly encourage her to continue this dream, along with all of her other goals! She's strong, has a pretty incredible personality, is a beast of a cheerleader, and has a smile that's contagious for days!

 

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Joe | High School Senior Portrait Session | Beecher, Illinois

I recently had the privilege of photographing Joe for his senior portraits. Joe, like myself, enjoys nature so we made sure to include as much Fall scenery into his photos as possible while still making him the focal point. Congrats Joe! You'll go far!

Caty + Ryan | Collaborative Conceptual Session | Joliet, Illinois

I’m pretty in love with this session. I rounded up my friend Caty, her model pal Ryan, and my good friend Moe who is also a photographer. Together we met up at an abandoned building I frequently use and together we shot for over three hours. My idea was to bring Moe along to shoot the same subjects and compare the drastic differences in our shooting styles. It was pretty awesome! I envisioned a photo of the two of them with antique sickles and smoke bombs - they nailed it! Aside from that we didn’t really have too much direction and were rather spontaneous. I love their chemistry in the images and Caty’s dominance is pretty phenomenal! 

Be sure to check out Moe's work hereYou can see more of my shots from this session featured on The Babetown Collective here

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The Nutter Family | James' First Birthday | Beecher, Illinois

I truly adore this family! I've had the honor of photographing their wedding, their maternity photos, and their family photos, and now their son's first birthday photos! Meet James! He's a spunky little guy who loves to dance and scrunch his nose. Happy 1st birthday James!

Anaya + Will | Beach Wedding | Kemil Beach | Indiana

Beach wedding goodness.

I recently had the honors of photographing a small intimate wedding at Kemil Beach in Indiana. I highly recommend checking out Kemil Beach if you haven't yet. It's definitely my favorite Lake Michigan beach yet. It was an early Saturday morning wedding right on the shore. With the bride and groom's closest friends and family they exchanged vows and rings. Congratulations and a happy forever to these two!

The Harpin Family | Lifestyle Newborn Session | Peotone, Illinois

Who doesn't love a sweet new baby?! Their soft skin, their fresh new baby scent, their warm snuggles, their tiny fingers and toes. They're adorable! As much as I love newborns as much as the next person, photographing them just isn't my jam. That is, unless, my clients want a lifestyle newborn session. I LOVE me a good lifestyle newborn session! So when my dear friend, Jenna, asked me to do their newborn session, I couldn't wait! 
New beginnings all around for Brian and Jenna! A new baby and a new house. Even though their house is still under construction, we decided it was the perfect setting for their session. Plus, I got to see their new house. Or, I should say, old house. If you know me at all you know I have an obsession with old houses. Brian and Jenna bought an old home and are completely rehabbing it. Most people probably wouldn't think of doing their newborn photos in a house that's under construction but I think it's the perfect setting for them. It states their lives at the present moment. A new baby and a new home. I would say it's a pretty exciting time in their lives and I was honored to document it. 

Sarah + Chris | Comic Shop Maternity Session | Champaign, Illinois

Clients - "Do you want to shoot our maternity session at a comic shop?"

Me - "Ummm.....you bet I do!"

Seriously y'all! This was such fun session! We hit up G-Mart Comic Shop, The Blind Pig Brewery, and a brightly colored graffiti wall! And just one week later they had their baby! Congrats Sarah & Chris!

The Blum Family | Forest Maternity Session | Lowell, Indiana

Lori and Kyle are dear friends of mine. They are also expecting a baby boy soon! A baby boy that will, no doubt, be as adorable as their other son. We truly lucked out on weather! If I recall it was 70 degrees, which is warm for February. We were able to take advantage of the beautiful day and take some photos outdoors.

Early Morning Sunrise Playtime

Toddlers are very comical creatures. This is my daughter in her natural habitat. She loves trucks, superhero dresses, and messy bedhead hair. This is my favorite way to capture children, especially toddlers. They're so full of wonder, curiosity, and energy! Do you know what they are not full of? The desire to pose and sit still. And that's perfectly okay! 

Arriah | Modeling Session | Crown Point, Indiana

Look out world! This is Arriah. She's a very talented, strong, beautiful, and charismatic 14 year old. Her mother, who has been a dear friend for many years, said Arriah has shown some interest in modeling so naturally we had to set up a session. I took her to a few different locations and we had a blast! By different I mean an abandoned greenhouse and an alley! Sounds appealing right?! Arriah did a fantastic job in front of the camera and she's clearly a natural! I'm looking forward to seeing what she makes of herself as I have no doubt it will be something spectacular!

Michelle + Pete | Cantigny Park Engagement Session | Wheaton, Illinois

I love engagement sessions! I love getting to know my clients, hearing their stories, laughing with them, and capturing their love for one another. Michelle and Pete have been together for 10 years already! They will be tying the knot next year and I wish them many more decades of love and laughter! 

Angelique + Paul | Convert a Bus

I have some pretty awesome friends, if i do say so myself. Paul and Angelique are an adventurous fun loving couple that are converting a school bus into a RV. I stopped out to hang out with them as check out the progress with camera in tow. Angelique was painting the floor and Paul was painting the hood. I can't wait to see it finished! If you're interested in following their journey check them out here on Facebook.

Films Not Dead! | Michigan City, Michigan

I've been getting back into film lately. I dusted off my Canon AE-1 and purchased a Yashica Mat 124G to add to my collection. It's been fun and I'm really loving the difference between film and digital. My current favorite film is Portra 400 120 paired with the Yashica. Shooting with film really forces you to slow down and configure your shots. I will share a few photos from a film class I recently took in Michigan and a few shots I've taken when just messing around with my cameras.

Lisa + Zac | County Fair Engagement Session | Lake County Fair | Crown Point, Indiana

You might recognize Zac and Lisa from another blog post from last summer! Well, they got engaged! Congrats guys! Of course I was honored when they asked me to photograph their engagement session. And as if I wasn't excited enough about shooting with them again, Lisa said they wanted to do their session at the county fair! Immediately ideas started brewing and I was really excited to collaborate ideas at such a fun location! 

It was a hot and steamy day. 91 degrees and 98% humidity! As if this couple isn't hot enough, right?!!! But we trudged through the weather and owe a big thanks to all of the Lake County Fair workers that didn't mind accommodating us!

Congratulations Zac and Lisa!!!

The Nutter Family | James Lifestyle Newborn Session | New Lenox, Illinois

Is there anything sweeter than a newborn baby? The coos, the little toes, their tiny ears, the unforgettable baby smell....I could go on! Let me introduce baby James. When he was just 14 days old I went to the home of Jimi and Sarah (the two in my previous blog post) to meet James and do a lifestyle session of mama and baby. He slept through half of it and spent the remainder of the time intently staring at his mommy. It was such a beautiful thing seeing the way they looked at each other.