Christmas season means Christmas photos for Christmas cards. Here are a few highlights from a photo shoot this past Sunday.

This was such a fun photo shoot. The lights were set up for me when I got there, and the twins had these fun ornaments to play with. If you try to emulate this look/style, make sure they are shatterproof ornaments. These ornaments were, thankfully, since the twins loves smashing them together. It was such an easy set up, and part the part that I loved the most is that it is so easy to recreate in anyone’s home. I brought my off camera flashes with some light diffusers, set one up on a tripod and the other on the floor, and I was able to create this nice soft light in their home.

Now that my wife and I have Logan, we’ll have to send out a Christmas card to our family. Here was our trial run with Christmas light photos.  He was more intrigued by what they would taste like than smiling at us. More photos to come later.

It’s my favorite time of the year. Now the weather just needs to check itself and remember that it is supposed to snow during the holiday season instead of being warm and having shorts weather. I can’t wait to take some more holiday photos for Christmas cards. These holiday photos can be done as mini sessions in your home. Let me know if you want to set something up.

 

When I’m not photographing, I’m teaching high school English. Recently, I wrote this post simply as a class example for Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story.” In his short story, O’Brien gives several elements of what factors go into a true war story. Students had to select at least two elements of a war story and write one as an example. My example utilizes that a true war story is never moral, and a true war story has no end. I have the pictures to accompany the story, so I figured why not just share the story online? This will probably be a work in progress as I continually reflect on this day. It took me this long to share the story for the first time, so I’ll continue to revise it in the future. 

The day he was born, I spent a portion of the first 24 hours of his life with another couple. I will never forget the day that he was born. I hadn’t gone to sleep since Wednesday night, and that night was spent asleep on a hospital sofa. Those are not made for comfort. He decided not to make his grand entrance into the world until Friday morning. The day started off pretty casual with regular conversation and visits from family and friends. As the day progressed, the contractions became more powerful and his mother had to pause from a regular conversation because of what was happening. The in betweens and tantalizing minutes of every contraction that my wife had seemed like they would never be ending, and he was never going to come out. As the day got closer to evening, we thought that he was never going to come out and that our biggest fear was starting to become true. We tried avoiding drugs and surgery at all possible cost, but it seems like he had different plans in mind about how he decided to make his homecoming.

Finally at 11 PM on Thursday night, close to 24 hours since his mother felt her first contraction, we had decided enough is enough, or really the doctor had said that for his mother. He finally suggested an epidural even though he knew that his mother did not want one, but it seems like it was the best choice in order to avoid the biggest intervention that we did not want. The epidural was a godsend. It finally allowed his mother and myself the ability to fall asleep. Her body kept working, but it was all behind the scenes work as we caught up on sleep, or so we thought. At about 4 AM, the nurse came in and woke us up and said, “It’s about time to start pushing.” The next two hours were the most primal, mesmerizing hours of my life. There was so much power in that room behind his mother, and with each push, more and more of my life was being delivered. Finally at 6:08 AM, my true dad story began.

I remember being so tired yet so full of bliss that this had finally happened. Ten hours later, I had already left him to go attend a wedding ceremony that I had already committed to photographing. Some of you might know the bride, and although I was torn that I wasn’t spending time with my newborn son, I was exuberant to see two of my great friends get married and capture their moments together knowing that one day they would be experiencing the same emotions that I did that morning. 15 hours after he was born, we were reunited again as a family for a little amount of time. That first night, we had actually asked the nurse to take him because we needed a break.

My true dad story had just started, I would have literally a lifetime of memories to fill. One more night without a baby wouldn’t hurt him.

 

I’ve had the pleasure of being in homes for my past two photo shoots. Coincidentally, they have both been for baby photo shoots. I love it: I don’t have to worry if it’s going to be too cold in this crazy Chicago climate; I don’t have to worry about rain since we’re gearing up for April showers. All I need is the comfort of someone’s home, my camera, and beautiful smiling faces (a nice big window for natural light helps, too).

I feel as if these photo shoots qualify as lifestyle photo shoots more than they do portrait shoots. Of course I can’t give a baby directions on how to pose, where to look, when to smile, and when to stop crying, so I take pictures of just about every moment that is happening: the crying, the soothing, and everything in-between. I will toss in some posed family photos as well, but then I try to capture the “second shot” or whatever is happening between each photo. Don’t get me wrong: I loved babies being adorably posed that would make anyone coo or say “aww,” but there is something about capturing the natural sleep and being in a baby, especially when I have the pleasure of comparing a newborn to when they are three months old. Before I know it, I’ve left someone’s home with over 900 photos to go through.

Maybe it’s because I’m gearing up to become a father (my wife and I are expecting our first in June), but I’m in love with these baby photo shoots. It’s incredible to see how precious these little ones are. I try to capture every last detail that I know is going to change: their little toes, noses, eyes, and hands. I know my little boy or girl is going to be one of the most photographed babies in the world. I’ll try not to clog your newsfeeds and timelines with daily updates, unless of course, you want to see those photos.

Here are some glimpses into the last two photo shoots that I’ve had. Feel free to share, or tell your friends and family about me. I’m quickly finding out that having a baby is expensive, especially later in life, so I’m really going to need this photography gig to pan out…😉

 

As I’m prepping the next couple of posts, I’m realizing that there is a common theme even with my last post: I have had the privilege of watching many families grow. The Waters are another family for whom I’ve documented a wedding, baby, and family photos.

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The first pictures of their newest baby boy were taken when he was less than a week old. It is incredible to see the amount of change, physically and personality, that happens to babies from birth to only being six months old. Looking at the two pictures side by side, it’s like they are two completely different babies. Even though there are many photos that are taken of babies on phones between newborn and six months, documenting the growth with a professional is definitely special.

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This late summer/early fall photo shoot produced one of the most adorable photos that I’ve taken. These two sitting down showing genuine smiles are the moments that I love to capture for families. We took our pictures at the Fabyan Forest Preserve. I was drawn there because of a giant windmill that they have, but we ended up not even taking photos there. The park has so much beautiful greenery that you can take several sessions of family photos there without replicating the same backdrop.

Geneva, IL is home to many beautiful parks, and is actually a beautiful town as well. The downtown area is unique because almost everything is owned by a small business owner. You can’t beat the food choices down there either. My favorite places to eat down there are Barrel + Rye and The Burger Local. If you are ever craving some great American Bistro food, delicious burgers, or craft drinks, check them out.waters-74 waters-64
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One of the best aspects of being a photographer is getting to see your clients grow. Watching newborns grow up and document their first steps is beautiful, but watching a family grow can be inspirational. I’m always very humbled and honored when couples take a chance on me to document their weddings, especially for the couples early in my photography career. The Brownings were one of the first couples that trusted me with taking their wedding photos.

Even though they are family, there was no obligation to having me take their engagement photos, then their wedding photos, and then their family photos once they started growing. There are plenty of other photographers that they could have used, but there must have been something in my style that they liked in order to keep using me to document their memories. I almost cringe when I look back at some of the photos I’ve taken early in my career. The quality obviously isn’t as great; I wasn’t rocking a full frame camera with prime lenses at the time. But some of the ideas that I still use are present in my early photos. I’ve obviously grown as a photographer, and the quality of photos that I take are better as well.
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Nostalgia at its finest.

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This past spring, I decided to run the Chicago Marathon for the third time. My wife gave me the idea that I should run for a charity from now on so that the training that I do not only benefits my health, but it can benefit someone else. I honor of my cousin’s baby, I decided to join Team UPS for DownS. The United Parent Support for Down Syndrome is an organization that offers “support, education, and encouragement for parents, families and others who love and care about persons with Down syndrome” (upsfordowns.org). My wife works with adults with developmental disabilities, so this community has always been near and dear to us. I’m still fundraising even though the race is in a week, and I have already reached my fundraising goal, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t help out. Help support this wonderful organization by clicking here.

My cousin, Sandy, has been blogging about her experiences of motherhood, both with her firstborn son, her second-born daughter, and the challenges and blessings of raising a child who has Down syndrome. If you ever want to read about her beautiful perspective on life, need a word of encouragement, or need a reality check on your own life, check out what she has to say here: http://signet223.blogspot.com/

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I can’t get over how adorable this baby is. This photo shoot was sort of a last minute plan that, thankfully, came to fruition. Mom and Dad, who happen to be my sister-in-law and her husband, which I guess is also my brother-in-law, were visiting from Arizona to celebrate their baby’s first birthday with the rest of the family that still lives in Illinois.

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We knew we were going to be in Chicago one of the days because I have an unhealthy obsessions with donuts, more specifically, Do Rite Donuts in Chicago. I had posted something on Facebook a week before they had visited, and they told me that they wanted to get donuts. It just so happened that after we got donuts, we had made plans to do a quick family photo shoot.

Cannon Family-21I love the Lincoln Park Gardens in Chicago. It’s a place that I’ve visited before for photo shoots, and it’s a quiet calm just outside of the rambunctious streets of Chicago. It’s far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city to make you forget about the all the noise and escape and appreciate nature. When I edit photos that I’ve taken at the Gardens, I sometimes forget that they were taken in Chicago. Of course, the best skyline in the world serving as a backdrop for some incredible family photos is a reminder of how beautiful Chicago can really be.
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I’m sure I’ll be back to the Lincoln Park Gardens for another shoot in the near future. Check out some of my other work and see if you can spot other shoots done here. Cannon2cannon-1-4
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