Chicago Wedding Photographer | Kari + John | Downtown Chicago, IL

There are these moments in your life when you meet someone and it just makes sense. For lack of a better phrase… it just is the way it’s always meant to be. That’s how meeting Kari and John was for me. I felt like within 20 minutes I had known them my whole life. We were dancing and playing. We were teasing each other and almost getting run over while running across the streets of downtown Chicago. I felt comfortable to be myself and fully engage in getting to know them.

I know the Lord completely set our paths to meet. After messaging for a mere 48 hours over Instagram, I was waiting at Wabash/Adams L Station for Kari and John.  I think my heart and mind were just overwhelmed with inspiration. The lights, cars, sounds, and skyscrapers surrounding us- it was perfection. I feel like John and Kari are such a combination of personality, humor, and culture. I mean the way they laugh together is just beautiful. Their smiles are gorgeous, and you know their home is filled with joy. I can tell they have encouraged each other to pursue different goals and dreams. They are passionate about people and bringing life to the party! I’m gonna STOP typing and let you get to know them for yourself!

With all this said, a huge thank you to Kari and John for getting downtown and slaying the modeling game! I cannot wait to see you guys again, because some how I just feel like that’s going to happen.

Bridals in Lyon, France | Kelly Ford

Kelly, just a babe in Lyon, dressed in her wedding dress, gallivanting through the city with a photographer. So thankful for Kelly’s giggles, and her excitement for this shoot. Props to Kelly for getting back in her beautiful dress from her wedding I also shot back in 2015. She was as radiant this day as she was that day.

I wanted to share from Kelly’s perspective and she was so gracious to write up just that:

“So your friend and wedding photographer is coming for a visit and she asks you if while she’s there you’d be up for getting back into your wedding dress to take some pictures. Obvious answer: “um…HECK YES!”

I knew that it was tucked away in the guest room, having made the trek across the ocean still carefully wrapped up in the box from the dry cleaners that I hadn’t touched since getting it back after the wedding. Thankfully I could still wriggle into it, despite now living in the land of delicious baguettes!

“Honestly, I’d anticipated feeling a little funny being all alone in front of the camera – not being a part of a pair, having someone to interact with – but rather just me, alone and exposed. But that was not the case at all! I’ve loved watching through social media as Emily has been learning, growing, honing, stretching her craft, and I’d already been able to experience it on her visit as I played being her “assistant” while she did shoots with some friends of ours. And her skills were equally evident as she guided me and put me at ease for this solo night —

Our wandering shoot itinerary was taking the funiculaire up the hill to the Roman amphitheatre, playing there for a while, walking up to the Notre Dame de Fourvière basilica, playing there for a while, walking down the hill through the gardens and stairways, playing along the way, and strolling home through Vieux Lyon’s cobblestone streets. And “playing” is the best word I have to describe the night – just climbing onto and off of and into and around all sorts of old stone pieces at the amphitheatre; twirling and running around the courtyard of the basilica; smacking myself in the face after trying to look artsy with some branches…it was all just such fun, playing and laughing with my friend – who, by the way, was giving me great guidelines/instructions/suggestions so that I could know what to do instead of getting lost in that “alone and exposed” funny feeling that I’d anticipated but that never materialized.”

“I didn’t have bridal portraits done before our wedding – just wasn’t really my thing or something I cared to do – but I will say that, whether or not you did portraits beforehand, I highly recommend something like this after the fact! Now we have all of these beautiful photos of me that involved doing all sorts of things that would certainly not have been as fun and playful if I’d been thinking about keeping my dress clean or unmussed, etc. Heck, my dress still has a tear in the floofy-under-dress part from the grand ol’ time I had at our reception 😉 What a joy it was to get to wriggle back into this dress full of great memories and then play in it to make some more, worry-free.

And, certainly, it’s something that is to-each-their-own, but I kind of love looking through these images and seeing the differences from the wedding day itself… We didn’t do everything exactly the same – my hair is cut so it is different, we decided not to worry about my turquoise heels and some of the jewelry, it was chilly so we added my leather jacket…

You can see the passage of time and, for me, even more so the passage of life: that night was in a different piece of the world than our wedding, I spoke a different language to the people we bumped into, I had different things on my mind…

“So I am grateful to have had this fun silly night with Emily, and now grateful to have these images. Time is passing, life is changing, I now own a leather jacket(!)…but I am still Dave’s bride, covenanted to him in joy, dancing and twirling that night before an audience of only the One who witnesses each of the moments of our marriage when Emily isn’t around to document them…

Just precious to have these images to remind me that, while I don’t wear my wedding dress every day (alas!), I am daily a bride – to my Dave and to the Lord.”

NASHVILLE, TN | ROOMIE ROADTRIP

It is something I could have never prayed enough for, nor known to pray for, but having two of my favorite people in the world be my roommates is beyond a blessing. It is life giving. I thank the Lord these two are in my life every day. Figuring out adulthood with them, taking care of a home, and growing up together has been crazy!

I am so proud of Hope and Kat. We took this Nashville day trip to celebrate the seasons of life we are all in separately. I’ve never known two girls to work so hard and hustle so intense then them. I love how they see the world, how they work for what want, their goals, and their love for the Lord. I’m so exciting for what God has in store for the three of us for the rest of the year. Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hope that weekend!

For this trip, we drove to Nashville for about 10 hours. Fast-track Nash, if you will. By no means did we see it all, but I loved the strange selection of things we did and ate. We weren’t allowed to talk about work for the whole day. It was actually pretty hard for all of us. I also got to wear Amelia, the travel skirt, that is circulating through the nation to different girls. I had Amelia for a week, and got her the night before our day trip! Perfect time to take her on an adventure!

First stop was Pinewood Social for brunch. SO GOOD. Oh my word. We got pancakes, waffles, eggs. It was incredible. HIGHLY recommend

Second Stop: Parked at Nissan Stadium for a good view of downtown. 

Went to the little walkway one of my couples showed me during their engagement session here this spring. <3  Third Man Records.

Barista Parlor.

12. South

Little Octopus for dinner.

Good day in Nashville. <3 Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Solo Travel | Experiencing a City

Experiencing a city is a challenge. Especially when time is short. So why put the pressure on yourself? Why feel the need to be the tourist who sees all historical sites, the instagram-worthy modern coffee shops, the infamous restaurants, and the classic tours.

Forgetting to sit still on a trip can make it all a blur. Kind of like your wedding day. Unless you stop and breathe it in, you will likely say “I can barely remember anything! Still the best day of my life!” Which in the long run isn’t a bad answer, but personally, I LOVE remembering the details, the random excursions off trail. I hope on my wedding day, I can have moment memories that build the day, not flashes of events.

So when you take a weekend, a week trip, or longer, I challenge you to pick and choose what is most important to you. Do you ACTUALLY want to see _____ or do you just want a photo in front of it. Often, I find myself saying “i don’t know, i feel like i’m SUPPOSE to go there cause like I’m HERE?” When in England, I stayed in a northern city with close friends. London is a 5 hour drive from their home. I spent a bit of time asking myself if I should ask to go. I mean, I was in England (right!?) , and 5 hours isn’t even that far! I opted not, because I knew I would MUCH rather spend hours in their home, drinking tea, exploring their stomping grounds. I would much rather make memories laughing while attempting golf, getting brunch down the street, and going to a high tea room in an old hall. Don’t get me wrong, London would be amazing, but this trip, it was just me. I began to lose the sense of urgency to SEE IT ALL.  I plan to go back. I’ve been twice in the same calendar year, so why try to see it all and not take a breather? I hope I can continue to travel often in my lifetime, and I expect I will go back to England with a friend or friends one day who will want to take London on!

There is something so special about not using a map after a few days in a city. I spent around 6 days in Lyon, France this April. I had a European phone plan with quite a bit of data left, so I face timed some friends while around the city. After the first two days, I had gotten to know the area, the short cuts to the rivers, my favorite bridge or two to cross, my favorite spot to sit and read. It was so exciting to virtually tour my best friend around a city that now felt like a new comfortable home.

So my top “planning” tips to visiting a new city:

  1. Instead of booking a trip with the intention to see as many cities in 3 weeks that you can, consider taking on 2 cities and a town maybe. Spend a longer time in one place to truly experience the culture, the set up of the city, the food, and of course, the people!

2. Prioritize your MUST see tourist attractions, and eliminate the ones that you are going to simply out of obligation. Its YOUR trip, right?

3. Consider wandering around the city without a map (also have a note of your address… and maybe a off-line map app to get home. haha)

4. Read and write where you want to – on a step, on the ground, by water where ever you just want to be. Don’t feel guilty for that time. Allowing yourself to stop and take in your experiences will let them sink and hold. Take note of the little things. Weather, smells, sounds, people you see.

I have loved the trips I remember LIVING in the city, not simply touring it. Take the challenge, give yourself elbow room on your next trip.

Get lost in the city, try some crappy coffee you spent a little too much on, dangle your legs over a river, breath in the fresh air, and let the city settle in your memory.

Sunday afternoon after church exploring the local market for a smoothie.

One of my favorite nights in Lyon. I had eyed a spot on this one bridge a few days in a row. The weather was perfect. I just scooped myself up there and read my travel journal. The bustling city around me while I wrote in more memories I made that day.

Taking an evening off exploring and doing some well needed Friends night. Everything is so new and sometimes just a lot, its nice to have something familiar like netflix.

Take selfies. Haha you won’t regret it. Its the solo-travel way.

Snack away.

Grand Canyon | January | AZ. 17

Pheonix, Arizona.

When you travel, you are in constant hunt of people you can stay with. It’s one of the beauties of networking and friends. Prepping to fly to Arizona, there was a little anxiety. I was headed to see people who I hadn’t seen since I was 9. The Norriss’ were a huge part of my childhood. Even if I don’t remember a lot of our memories together, I do know the moment I walked into their Phenoix home, that everything was going to be fine. I hopped back into the family like we had spent no time a part. Laughing about traveling, telling stories, and working together to get a meal on the table. One day away from their eldest daughter’s wedding, the Norris family was in full swing of slicing bagels for the reception, steaming dresses, planning speeches,     and I felt at home. Even though I hadn’t been in this home. The power of hospitality is unmeasurable. I am so thankful for this family. They welcomed me in with open arms. Letting me play with their children, teaching me how to drive stick shift, taking me on hikes and road trips, and stuffing me with soups and yogurt.

This trip was by far one of the greatest on my record. Kayra and I spent New Years skimming wedding photos from that morning, and when the clock striked 00:00 we ran outside to the block in search for fireworks. The fog was thick but our spirits were high. We might as well had seen a whole show for how full my heart was. If I’m honest, I was not sure what this first week of the year would hold. When you travel solo, stay with friends, and do not have car, you don’t have control over your plans. I shouldn’t have doubted the Norris fam, nor the Lord.

For one thing, a flood of emails started coming in and it was incredible. Wedding inquires from out of state filled my inbox. I was in shock by how quickly the traffic grew. Granted, things have slowed down, and I am in no-means turning weddings away by my bookings.

ALSO after a last minute confession to Kayra that I really wished I could go the Grand Canyon, she leapt into action. Next afternoon we were on the road to Flagstaff, her college home. We chopped and cooked sweet potatoes (just as everyone should.) and feasted on the living room floor with bowls of soup and french press made tea. After some time of stories and laying around, we curled up in sleeping bags spread across the apartment. Possibly the easiest wake up for me (lol of the year). I couldn’t contain myself. It was brisk outside and I was hopping onto snow patches relishing in that crunch sound! Before long we were on the road headed an hour and half up the road to nothing less of a world wonder. After a wrong turn (or two) we arrived. Kayra wanted to give me the full experience, covering my eyes till I was at the very edge of the Canyon. She released her clasp around my face, and my heart skipped a beat, and my brain couldn’t quite fathom what my eyes were seeing. That sounds super poetic and dramatic, but I’m being honest. It didn’t look real. It still doesn’t. It looked like a green screen; there was too much BIG for me to really understand.

We spent quite some time exploring and trying our best at acro-yoga on the edges of the canyon (because what else?) I’m glad I had some time to soak in the wonder. I know I could have spent so much more time hiking down and around, but for another adventure! Trying to get back to the car was hysterical. We saw a bus and sprinted down a hill across some train tracks only to be told “we aren’t a shuttle…” Out of breath, we wandered back over the tracks to the real stop.

The drive back to Flagstaff alone had me in awe. Snow all over the trees. I have never seen scenes out a car window like that. I’m so thankful. What a beginning to the new year. Thank you Kayra, Vilde, and Jake for making this adventure happen. I completed a big check off my bucket list!