A few weeks ago, I photographed my friend Lara’s boudoir session. During the session, we talked about what it meant to her, why she was doing it, and everything that she did leading up to it – and I was so inspired. I get a lot of people asking why would anyone shoot a boudoir session? Or why do I do it. Hearing Lara talk about what it meant to her was amazing so I asked her to share some words with all of you! All the love and props to Lara for speaking so candidly about this experience, and for being open to sharing the photos with everyone! Here’s what she had to say…
“I recently reached out to my friend and photographer, Jill Tiongco, to book a boudoir photo session. Leading up to the session, I began to get nervous because this was something completely new, and to be honest, my selfie game is far from strong! Some may ask why I would want to do a boudoir photo session…it’s not like I’m getting married or have a significant other to share them with, or maybe people view them differently than I do. All I can say to that is these photos were 100% for myself and I have worked my butt off (literally and figuratively) over the past year and I saw it as a way to celebrate everything I have accomplished at this point in my life.
I’ve come to learn that there is no better feeling than when you completely love and appreciate the
woman that you have become. When Jill sent me the email that my photos were available to view, my self love reached an all time high as soon as I started clicking through them. I never knew the strength and confidence this session and photos could bring me. Some might think that sounds shallow or conceited, but for me, it was a reminder of all the work I have put in to taking care of myself and falling back in love with who I am. I’ll always have these photos available to remind me of how far I’ve come, the confidence I’ve built, and how beautiful our bodies truly are.
We all have pressures in life and situations that can keep us from focusing on what is most important. I remember hearing something about how we spend our entire life with ourselves, so why wouldn’t you want to love being around that person. After 30 years, I began to understand that in order to be the best version of myself, I needed to come first. Through some deep soul searching, appointments with my life coach (I recommend everyone have one at some point in their life!), endless hours at the gym lifting weights, and lots of alone time shared with my puppy, I found a self care routine that brought me to the happiest place I’ve been in life. I can look in the mirror and love the person I see in the reflection. I’ve learned that living in the present by practicing gratitude is the key ingredient to my daily happiness.
While my steps may not be what works best for others, there are a few things I promise will make
positive changes in your life:
- Take care of your mind – My life coach has helped me identify the importance of practicing gratitude every day. I created a gratitude jar in which I wrote down one thing that made me grateful that day. You’ll start to notice the little things that are beautiful in your life and make you appreciate what you have.
- Take care of your body – Lifting weights 5-6 days a week has been a healthy outlet for me to release stress, celebrate the wins in life, challenge myself, be excited when I reach a new
personal best, all while seeing my body change. Maybe lifting weights isn’t for everyone, so find a fitness routine that works best for you and be proud of the effort you put in to taking care of your body. More importantly than fitness, be mindful about your nutrition! Pay attention to what you are putting into your body and give it the proper fuel it needs to feel energized and strong. I’ve tried different “diets” but what I’ve found that works best is balance. Allow yourself “treat meals” when you might need or deserve them. Take time to learn about what is healthy fuel for your body and get in that kitchen and cook! Also, let’s eliminate the whole “cheat meal” phrase. Cheating has a negative connotation and having some cookies, pizza, etc. every once in a while is needed and deserved!
- Don’t be afraid to say no – Too often I felt the need to go to every party, event, etc. when I was invited. I wanted to make sure my friends and family knew I cared and felt my presence. Turns out, saying yes to every invite is extremely exhausting. If you want to stay in on a Friday night vs. going to that work happy hour, don’t hesitate to say no! We all need time to unwind and if that means a Friday night in ordering your favorite food and watching a movie, then you go for it!
- Cut out the negativity! – One of my favorite quotes is “When things in life aren’t adding up, start subtracting.”. This applies to negative and toxic people, relationships, situations, jobs, etc. If something or someone is bringing you down, don’t be afraid to walk away from it. My hope is that all women take time out of their day/week/month to practice self care and find a routine that makes them feel confident and love who they are. Don’t forget to practice daily gratitude as you’ll find that it’s easier to be present in your life. And although the practice of self care and loving yourself is never over, celebrate the wins! Maybe a boudoir session isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind, but to any women out there looking to celebrate who they are and appreciate their body, it’s an experience I whole heartedly recommend!
Seven years ago, when I started on my photography journey, I needed to practice. This girl, my bff since we were 13 – stepped in as my model. That was the first time I photographed her. Now, as we’re both approaching 31 this week – I photographed her once again, this time – with a little baby boy on the way. We started off with a few portraits at her home, and then we went to random parking lot that had tall grass, and I kid you not, about three square feet of usable shade. We were legit in the parking lot of Food 4 Less. But we made it work, don’t you think?
Sammie, you are literally glowing. i’ve known you for more years of my life than I haven’t – and I can gladly say – I’ve never seen you happier. You were meant to be a mother. Times like this I remember why I am so blessed to do what I do. I love having this gift that I can give you. To help you remember this time in your life, to document these special moments. You are going to be such an amazing mom and I can’t wait to meet Baby Boy Sabatino!
Priscilla + Ernesto call Chicago home. While they now live in Naperville and have lived in Iowa in the past – they spend a lot of time in the windy city with their families, friends, and especially each other. But in just a few weeks – they’re packing their bags (and their dog Tuka) and heading to the west coast. They wanted to capture a few things in Chicago before they left – so they reached out to me to photograph a sunrise lifestyle session. They wanted to remember the iconic skyline with some pictures, take some fun photos with their pup, and a make a quick stop at Millennium Park where they had their first date. It was a beautiful, early morning for the four of us – but it was well worth it. Priscilla + Ernesto, I’m so glad I got to meet you – I wish you the best on the west coast!
It’s that time of year again where comfort meeting style is a necessity. So I teamed up with Chicago Fashion Bloggers, Ticket & Tag, to get some inspiration on what they’re wearing this snowy season. Here’s what they came up with:
Stacey (pictured below): “Believe it or not this dress is from Kensie’s winter 2015 looks. We tend to wear dark colors in the winter and bundle up in bulky pieces. I wanted to wear something colorful and light in opposition of the typical winter choice. I paired it with a leather coat and fishnets to give the outfit slight edge. I always feel bold when wearing fishnets. I try to get away with it as often as I can. I like this outfit because you can wear it somewhere like Parson’s during the day and also to dinner at night.”
Jess (pictured below): “Each winter I love to have a statement coat. This one felt like a great mix of old-fashioned glamour and modern tomboy. I love that you can change up the style to create a blanket effect or cocoon silhouette for colder days. In Chicago you need to be able to stay warm even when you are trying to look nice for a holiday party and this coat is my solution!”
Stacey (pictured below): “In this outfit I was thinking the opposite as my Parson’s outfit. Ha! I wanted something that was cozy and warm for winter. Fuzzy and textured materials seemed to be prevalent in many Winter 2015-2016 collections. I didn’t want to miss out on the comfy trend. I have so much plaid in my wardrobe and tend to use it as a faithful staple piece year round. The floppy hat can dress up any outfit nicely or any felt hat for that matter. A hat adds a fashionable element to any outfit. This is perfect for brunch and shopping around Logan Square on a cold day.”
I always love getting away from shooting Weddings and Engagements because it refreshes my perspective on things and gives me a chance to work on other skills. This time of year is great for that since wedding season hasn’t quite kicked in yet, so before things get crazy for the year, I decided to team up with the wonderful ladies of Chicago Fashion Blog, Ticket & Tag, once again to feature some fresh looks for this upcoming spring. We’re all sick of the cold winter days, but as Chicagoans, we know we’re not going to get those hot summer temps for quite some time now. But just because we’re in that transitional weather time of year – it doesn’t mean there aren’t any fun ways to mix and match winter and summer pieces for a more inspired look. See what these ladies put together and where they got it. Big shout out to Heritage Bicycles for letting us shoot there. If you haven’t been – definitely check it out. The coffee and muffins are delicious, they make custom bicycles, and the vibe in there is nothing short of perfection.
Where to shop the look // Urban Outfitters Jumper (similar), Ella Moss Ashwin Jacket, Spanx Tights, Steve Madden Boot, Michael Kors Belt (similar), Marc Jacobs Bracelet, Brighton Bracelet, Marc Jacobs Watch
Part 2 of my shoot with Chicago fashion bloggers, Ticket and Tag and crochet accessory designer, Kedrin. These Logan Fingerless Gloves… to die for. LOVE them. In fact, I loved them so much that Ticket and Tag was nice enough to gift them to me!! You better believe I’m gonna be rocking these things all over Chicago – and they’re perfect for shooting, too… keeps my hands warm and still let’s me control my camera with my fingers 🙂 I asked the beautiful Stacey to tell me a little more about her look…
Why do you love the Kedrin Accessory? Fingerless gloves are fashionable, but still provide warmth. Although I don’t typically think of crocheted items as edgy you can still style these to look that way. They are unique and are ideal for tapping away at your smart phone while still staying warm.
What was your inspiration for your look? I wanted to show off the gloves so I chose to wear a sleeve loose enough to showcase them. I also wanted to incorporate a fur vest, which are popular right now. I purposefully chose a darker colored shirt and pant to contrast the color of the glove and vest.
Three words to describe the look? Warm, stylish, and cool
Where would you wear it? You could wear these fingerless gloves to lunch at Doves luncheonette, a pie date at Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits, or out to a show at my favorite venue Lincoln Hall
Other things to pair with the Kedrin Accessory? A thin sweater for a day of holiday shopping, a leather jacket for a night out, or a winter blazer
About a month ago, I teamed up with Chicago Fashion Bloggers, Ticket & Tag, to feature some killer winter crochet accessories made by Kedrin. The first two pieces were right up my style alley – The Buck Turban and Logan Fingerless Gloves. Make sure to check ’em out if you missed it. These cold January days are only gonna get colder so what better time to feature the Kedrin Pilsen Hat and Kedrin Lincoln infinity scarf.
From Jess: “The Pilsen Hat features monochromatic stripes in different textures which keeps it very cool looking in a not-trying too hard way…. I chose to pair The Pilsen with a bright, structured dress and added a men’s plaid shirt and fur cowl to play with traditional Christmas red, white, and green. When I find a plaid I really like in a men’s shirt from J.Crew, I size down and it works because of the slim fit design. As for the J.Crew dress, I originally purchased it to wear to the office, but I have found so many ways to change it from cocktail party to casual outing. It feels very merry!”
see how she styled it below: J. Crew dress similar here // J. Crew tights similar here // J.Crew Men’s Shirt similar here // Faux Fur Scarf similar here // Banana Republic Boots similar here // Kedrin Pilsen Hat
From Stacey: The final wearable piece in our collaboration with Kedrin is the Lincoln Infinity Scarf. I absolutely love this piece. It is cozy, versatile, and has such a rich color. The scarf, which is handmade out of 100% vegan yarn, can be worn several ways. It can be looped around the neck once, doubled up for a chunky feel or draped around the body like a vest. This handmade piece is another wonderful example of Kedrin’s amazing craftsmanship.
I chose to pair the scarf with a denim top and pleated skirt. You could also try the Lincoln with a plaid shirt, jeans, and booties. While it’s perfect for almost every occasion, wear this scarf for a day of holiday shopping, brunch at Bite Cafe, or a cold-pressed juice date at Owen + Alchemy.
see how she styled it below: Kedrin Lincoln infinity scarf // Kut from the Kloth denim shirt unavailable similar here // Andrew Marc leather coat unavailable similar here // Calvin Klein skirt unavailable similar here // Spanx original shaping tights // Steve Madden oxford shoe unavailable similar here
Last week, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Chicago Fashion Bloggers, Ticket & Tag, and Minnesota-based crochet accessories retailer, Kedrin. I had such a great time shooting with them, and I’m so excited to share the first of four crochet accessories that we styled looks for on those cold Chicago winters. The first is the Buck Turban – named after one of Chicago’s favorite neighborhoods and designed to keep your head/ears warm while staying away from ‘hat-head’. This piece would make a great gift for anyone on your Christmas list, so head over to Kedrin and get 20% off through December 15th with the Promo Code: TandT
I asked Jess a few questions on the super cute look she created for the day //
Why do you love the Kedrin Accessory? In a cold city, I need to keep my ears warm but I don’t always want to wear a hat. The Buck Turban is functional but stylish. It adds to a look instead of covering up a look.
What was your inspiration for your look? Lumberjack meets Little House on the Prairie.
Three words to describe the look? Undone, layered, carefree
Where would you wear it? Breakfast at Longman & Eagle followed by Christkindlmarket to pick up some new ornaments, a tree lighting with Mexican Hot Chocolate in hand
Other things to pair with the Kedrin Accessory?
Wear it with a turtleneck and pencil skirt on the way to the office or with a sweatshirt, sequin trousers and heels to a holiday party
Shooting with the fabulous JordanQuinn Photography has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people. Back in September of 2012, I second shot for JordanQuinn at Jesse + Ben’s Wedding. Both Jesse and Ben were incredibly gracious, fun-loving, adoringly sweet, and oh-so-gorgeous. Dream clients, right? Well it gets even better.
A month or so ago, Jesse reached out and told me about a project that she and her colleague from Teach for America, Kelly, are taking on. That’s right—Jesse and Kelly already work at Teach for America, but are taking on another philanthropic endeavor to help other people—how admirable is that?!
Jesse and Kelly needed head shots to accompany their bios, press releases, website, etc. Being the lucky photographer that I am, I got to spend one of the first warm(ish) spring afternoons with these two lovely ladies at Lakeshore East Park.
Jesse and Kelly are trying to open an early care and education center in a low-income Chicago community–VOCEL (Viewing Our Children as Emerging Leaders). Their mission is to empower all children to attend VOCEL to enter formal schooling with the language, literacy, and social-emotional foundations to be successful in the short-term and compete for opportunities in their futures.
Beautiful weather, beautiful women, and most of all, a beautiful cause—what more could I ask for?
To learn more about Jesse and Kelly’s education center, watch their presentation here.