Seniors getting married

I first met Arin when I did her senior pictures 6 years ago. Now she's all grown up and entering a new chapter in her life. Arin and Zach were married at the Chapel in the Pines in Sycamore. As she walked down the aisle Stephanie Quinn played violin for them.The Chapel opened up a new banquet facility where Swing Assembly played big band music for the night. All of this was coordinated with the help of Amanda Burdick at La'Di Events.

Pomp and Circumstance

Thirty one students walked across stage to receive their diploma. Friday at Paw Paw High School. We heard stories of how some would continue off to college and some into a career in the military.

We can't see each other

Troy and Lauren talk around the door Saturday before the wedding at the Clocktower Resort. Everyone says it's tradition not to see each other before the wedding, but they don't know where the tradition came from. It comes from cultures where the marriages were arranged and the groom literally didn't know what his wife looked like until they were pronounced man and wife and then he could lift the vail. Right now they are taking their honeymoon at Niagara Falls.

Posing in the park

Matt and Nichole were married Saturday at Crossroads Fellowship. Afterwards they stopped at Sinnisippi Park and had their reception at the Venetian Club.

Last minute seniors

Austin came in for senior pictures this week. To talk to moms you would think it is more traumatic for the moms who fear their sons won't smile than for the kids themselves. Part of it is just finding out what the kids like and working with them.

Different ways to pose

Arin and Zach met me at Rotary Gardens for their engagement photos. It was fun to break Zach of his picture stance which included standing tall and putting his arm around Arin. We found the day enjoyable as we talked about how mom might get to help with the lighting again like she did for Arins senior pictures. They will be getting married later this year.

Wedding clients return with their family

Caridad and Horacio were the first couple to visit me 3 days after we closed on our house. At that, they came to have their engagement photos done the day after a wind storm took out our power for 3 days. Now their family is growing.

Just plain fun

George and Mindy met me at Sinnisippi for their engagement session Saturday. Joking could be Georges middle name, and at one point I asked him if he was serious about having another session. They will be getting married in a canyon at Starved Rock later this year.

Saving the date

The first time I was asked about Save the Date cards, I said sure, we do that and then went straight to Start Page to see what this was. Patrick and Heather wanted to go to Belvidere park for their session. We talked about raccoons and the best places to fish. It didn't even feel like work they were such a pleasure to hang out with.

A-maze-ing places for pictures

Brad and Krista are getting married next Spring. They spent the afternoon with me at Klehm Arboretum for their engagement session. The pun I must admit came from one of their friends on facebook.

A calm before the storm

William and Elizabeth planned an outdoor wedding at Anderson Gardens by the waterfall. An hour before they were told it was being moved under the pavilion. At the time it looked like clear skies, but by the time the bridesmaids were walking in it just started to sprinkle. It was a complete downpour before the wedding was done and they ended up having to go to the basement during the reception for storm cover. Needless to say it will be a wedding to remember.

Putting her best face forward

Jazz Keyes has made a recent career move. After being in management and selling cell phones, she has made the move to Liberty Mutual. Good luck in your new endeavor.

A part of the family business

Kyle Anderson first photo was taken in the office against a plain wall. Today he came in for something more professional looking. He has grown up with his family in the insurance business at A.W. Anderson, and after college found he really enjoyed helping others. As a full service agent, Kyle works with peoples auto, home, business, health, and umbrella coverages.

Yes even I make it in front of the camera

Sara wanted some photos to send to her favorite patients as she is retiring to become a stay at home mom. So even though the jeans weren't solid blue and Katherines shirt was a boys shirt and Adam never goes barefoot we made it.

Setting the engagements before they booked the wedding

When Tricia called me I could tell that she had done some looking around and that she knew what she wanted. The first time she called she set up the engagement session and the time to talk about how the wedding day might flow. These were taken in Baumann Park in Cherry Valley. They'll be getting married later this year.

Ready for anything

Biff and Whitney were full of surprises. The biggest was hearing Whitney cry out in surprise seeing Biff waiting for her at the end of the aisle. See Biff had decided to wear his fireman's boots to the wedding. That's just the kind of guy he is.

Let it snow... in April?

Jaci and her friend look out the living room window to watch soft little flakes fall from the air. Outside you could see that dad had arranged to have fresh mulch put around the plants for pictures. You just never know what kind of weather to expect.

Our honeymoon is almost over

Josh and Amanda were married last July. I have often told couples you honeymoon lasts until your first child is born. Right after they married they found out they became pregnant. Little Raina will be here soon.

Should have bought stock in Kleenex

Jimmy and Amanda were married Saturday. I can't remember the last bride who went through so many tissues. While Amanda did live in the area with her parents for a while, they are now live in DC. I told them as part of the contract, they had to invite me out to a friends wedding. It's been years since I've been to the Smithsonian.

Why I don't shoot on cheap lenses

Emily came in for senior pictures but didn't want outside photos because of the lack of color. With a Canon L series lens that can adjust the background of this photo of the barren trees complements her hair and outfit.

For the black and white images they are both straight out of camera. The lighting has been adjusted and the lens changed to give it more of a fashion look. It is the same background in both images. See how much change can be had with good equipment in the right hands.

Mary Kay, Maurices, Windsor fashion... oh my

Every Monday night at the Hilton Tandy invites new ladies to learn the Mary Kay story. For herself it started just as a part time thing until her husband wanted to go back to school. It was at that point that she decided to get serious about the business. One thing that they stress is that you can't advance in Mary Kay unless you take ladies with you. About twice a year they hold a fashion show.

Save the date

Jake and Tegan came in Sunday for their engagement session. I usually start with a traditional 50th anniversary look. From their I told them to get down on the floor and interact. They kind of forgot about the camera and the photos showed. They were more relaxed.

What did you say?

So much of life is interaction. To see two people interact is fun and each couple seems to have their own way of communicating. This was no different for Paige and Derrick. They are planning their wedding for later this year.

Letting dad tell the story

There is always the couples story, and the story dad likes to tell about how they met. This was no different as he described the events that lead up to him realizing he would be getting a son-in-law.

Real men wear yellow

Cory like many guys want to wear their football jersey for senior pictures. As I have asked many linemen, do you take more hits or give more hits, the answer has almost always been. Give more! The one senior who couldn't answer the question really was a second string player.

Our wedding won't be going down hill

Brian and Kendra are planning a wedding for this coming fall. Their ceremony and reception will be held at Chestnut mountain. While there won't be snow to go down hill, there will be sled tracks. We'll see if they will want to go down on sleds on their wedding day.

When the office wants a uniform look

Cheryl at Aqua Aerobics called to find out how hard it would be to take a couple public relations photos. After sending out the memo, she realized it was more than she thought. Some were photographed on site at her facility and some came to me later at my studio. The goal was to give them all a similar look.

5 years in the waiting

Noahs mom is not a fan of new born photos because they either sleep or cry. Once they get a little older is when they can start to smile better. Noah was very responsive and that was enough to make mom smile also.

The pillow fight

Dan & Sam had a pillow fight while over at a friends house. The next day he asked her out. They plan to have pillow fights for the next 50 plus years.

Our wedding won't be going down hill

Brian and Kendra are planning a wedding for this coming fall. Their ceremony and reception will be held at Chestnut mountain. While there won't be snow to go down hill, there will be sled tracks. We'll see if they will want to go down on sleds on their wedding day.

A Christmas surprise

When the Uchacz family called me, they were looking to have a portrait made for Christmas. The 12 of them got together a week before and they had to avoid phone calls from their parents who were looking for them during the session. Apparently they were wanting to confirm lunch plans and wanted to know where they were. Everything worked out well and the grand parents had their portrait 6 days later.

Fun together

Matt and Betsy are planning a wedding next October. Sometimes people like their serious look and sometimes they are more at home just getting down on the floor together. This is a page of what will be their guest book.

Just the 2 of us

Gene and Sharron are empty nesters. They were wanting to get portraits taken for their kids.

Up for promotion

Monica was up for promotion and with that had to get a new portrait taken. The list of guidelines from the Navy was fairly detailed, but not above possibility. As an extra setting I placed the flag in with her for a traditional look.

Pretty in any color

Part of being ready for a portrait session is to realize what people are going to wear and to complement their portrait with that outfit. And when this pretty little girl showed up in a satiny purple color, I knew just the background to use. I've got over 50 colors, which some might see as overkill, but it makes for a nice complement.

Die hard fans

Steve at first didn't want to take engagement photos. Jennifer told them they didn't have to look stuffy and that they could even wear their jerseys. All of the sudden engagement photos didn't seem like such a chore.

Where we got engaged

Darcy and Justin wanted to take their photos where they got engaged. We met 7am so we could see the sunrise. Being as we were too early and it was 7 degrees outside, we saw the sun but didn't want to stay out and wait 10 more minutes. They will be married in May.

A Spirit of Caring

Fred Muehlfelder stands in front of Lifescape community kitchen on Kishwaukee ready to deliver lunch. The facility was built debt free of which Fred lead the capital campaign. They serve 10's of thousands of meals every year mostly to shut in senior shut ins. He is being nominated for the Spirit of Caring award from Crusader Community Health.

Coming back after the wedding

Ron and Meghan were married a few years ago. Once they had their first child Grant they came back to have his portrait taken.

Dressed in their Christmas best

The Anguilm family called from a promotion with WNTA radio. They came together as a family and then individually. Getting everyone to smile well at once was a little tricky. It was augmented with Photoshop.

Kissing under the tower

Amanda and Jimmy came back for family Christmas. They aren't used to cold weather but at 30 degrees it was nice and warm. They managed to make snow angles and just had fun.

Business crawl

Mary in the BNI group got a free motor coach rental for the day that had to be used by Dec 31. It was too cold to camp so she invited us all to visit the other members of the group and see them in their offices. Here we stopped at Metro Screen Print which is attached to Don Carter Lanes to show off their new face lift.

Peering into each others eyes in stained glass

Shannon and Spencer married at church by the side of the road. This was followed by a reception at Mah Nah Tee See country club.

Loving the fall

Troy and Lauren set up to have their engagement session Sunday. It was a popular weekend with the fall color. 7 had seven scheduled. That being said each couple got their own special location and got to feel like it was their own special time. They will be getting married in June.

Kissing under the tower

Nick and Julia were married at Augustana in Rock Island IL. Traditions says kissing under the bell tower brings good luck. This is the 5th Augustana couple I have photographed.

Out in the park

Heather and Adam came to me after her maid of honor was photographed by us 2 years ago. Their wedding and reception was held at Teballa and they stopped at Belvidere park in between.

Artist in their own right

Michael and Jennifer have been doing video professionally for several years. They wanted the contrast of nicely dressed and less than perfect locations behind an abandoned building. They are getting married in May.

Mary Kay and Maurices runway

Tuesday I got asked by my friend if I could take photos for their fashion show. It ended being a fun night. While most of the girls weren't professional models, they were still able to pull off the look. For inspiration, I went to Maurices web site. The store manager was thrilled with the photos.

Packaging process

Ring Container Technologies installed a new manufacturing line into their Southwest Rockford facility. The new equipment will let them make up to 11,000 containers per hour per machine. Ring Container Technologies is a privately held, multinational corporation focused on finding sustainable solutions for the consumer packaging industry. Through steady growth Ring is now one of the largest plastic container manufacturers in North America. From a photographic process the challenge is to take the photographs and to keep the lines of the machinery straight. The other issue is to keep the machinery in sharp focus and to vary between showing a production line that is blurred to show action, or sharp and stable. I took the photo both ways. They will use the prints as display in their offices and to show customers and outside vendors.

The skies ahead of them

Jeb and Rachel have been dating since they were high school. As their friends would say, it's about time. They are planning an August wedding.

Just a little goofy

Biff and Whitney met me at a wedding earlier this year. They planned their session so they could send our save the date cards.

Much to do at Park Lanes

Park Lanes is planning another calender and asked me to come and reshoot some fresh photos. With a live band, a banquet fund raiser and dozens of lanes of fun, there's a lot to do at park lanes.

Brad lets you light things up

Brad Benedict is a man of many talents. He currently is a realtor and consults with businesses on how to save money on their lighting and preparing for the new lighting regulations

Let it snow let it snow let it snow

Kids at a local day care took photos to be ready for Christmas. some saw the sled and were excited. Some saw it and were scared because going down big hills was too fast for them.

Hitting the tracks

Jason and Nicole spend a lot of time at the race track so it was a natural to want to go there for pictures. Here they sit at the corner where stacks of tires help cars that go out of control. When asked why Jason didn't bring his car for the session, he said it needed a little body work. Hopefully it will be up and running for a trash the dress session after the wedding.

Together in fall

Tim and Jaci met me at Shannon and Spencers wedding. The idea that I kept going and going and going was impressive to them. They chose to do their engagement session in her back yard. Lots of color and really sets the fall mood.

The home we grew up in

Terry Voss had called me for Christmas cards she wanted an outdoor setting with meaning. We chose to put them in their own front yard. Having the house in the back, you can recall stories and events from each room of the house. It makes for lots of good memories.

Family times

The O'keefes came to me from a WNTA radio promotion. They wanted to do inside and outside photos and these were a couple of their favorites.

Together at Anderson

Anderson Gardens is one of the more restricted places to take photographs. The family had met together for Sunday brunch and didn't want to travel to multiple locations. The parks rules stated no tripods or light stands, and very limited picture taking within the park. We chose an out of the way corner next to their original parking lot to set the portrait.

Finding different settings

Ben and Kristina wanted somewhere nice but didn't know where for outdoor photos. At first I suggested the junior college, but neither of them attended. After the session they were surprised how many different looks they saw and none of it screemed, RVC. They will be getting married next May.

Enjoying the outdoors

Brad and Stacy have a competative spirit about them and it shows in everything they do. One works as a police officer and the other an emergency room nurse. Two places not known for calmness. So whether it's a debate over current events or the bears vs packers, they have a spirit about them that interacts well.

Morning light

Brittany and Luis wanted to have their session at the perfect light conditions. We met at Belvidere park before 7am and waited for sunrise. We never saw the sunrise but saw rain instead. This photo was taken buy the light of the streetlights. something that is only capable with newer professional high iso cameras. They loved the ambient glow of the season.

The Rydells in fall

Dave and Becky have invited me out to photograph their family several times in the last 7 years. Fall is their favorite time of year.

Stone cold pose

Brandon and Shea stopped at Beadie park for their engagement session. Given the chance they would have held their wedding there. The concrete arched steps gives a nice way to show them together, and the blue tone is there as it relates to concrete.

Bright bright color

Kaitlyn brought me sample photos she liked, and one of them was of a building with super bright colors. Being as that was not to be found in Rockford, this was photoshopped to give the same effect.

The time to pass

Chad and Alicia were married at Anderson Gardens. As her dad walks her up the isle, the moment he reaches out to shake Chads hand he passes her over as a woman is to leave her mother and father and cleave to her husband.

Riding at sundown

Steve and Stephanie took a ride around Rock Cut park. They are still thinking (at least Stephanie is) about riding horses on her wedding day. It was a beautiful evening.

Amys sence of humor

Steve and Amy were surrounded by family at their wedding under the gazebo at Midway Village. The day started with rain, but they were quick to dry off the chairs and be ready for their guests. As many couples before them, they wanted to keep their guest list down to about 30 and let it be intimate . They did exceed that but still made for a nice setting just for them.

Portraits with meaning

Charlie and Kari were married Sunday at Anderson Gardens. Before hand I stopped at the Winnebago fire house for a photo. Like many firemen, this is a generational occupational calling. For Kari, choosing her attire from head to toe was important. I took this at the gardens against a white background to give emphasis for your headpiece.

Dancing in circles

Brandon and Kathy stopped by Midway Village between their wedding and reception. For this photo I asked them to kiss (they didn't mind) while the rest of the party went around them. The slower shutter speed adds to the motion.

Ready for new employment

Michael was needing a new photo for his work id. He will be working in the airline industry.

Celebration in silhouette

Jason and Ashley came downtown to Beadie park for their engagement session. They are planning their wedding for July next year.

Love in the Country

Hannah and Jake were wanting to get their engagement session in before winter, but didn't know when they would get back from school. As it turns out, they were able to switch their premarital counseling schedule around so that we could get together this weekend. We roamed through his parents property for a good hour and saw plenty of sun down scenery. They are getting married next June.

A better photo than when going through orientation

Bryan has been working with Edward Jones for several years. The corporation likes to see each agent get an updated photo every 5 years. Bryan is was overdue and when he came in, made a comment of how the first photographer told each person to take a shot, turn and take a second. After he chose his favorite, he was amazed to see what Photoshop could do to improve the image. You can contact Bryan for retirement planning and 401K rollovers at his web site. I've visited with him and he's fairly good at putting technical knowledge into easy to understand language.

Laughter in love

It has been said, “Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.” Tom and Kristin enjoyed their time together when we did their engagement session at Rock Cut state park. Part of it is that they have learned well how to enjoy life and that laughter is the best medicine.

Getting outside

Heidi and James have done more than one photo session together. But most of the time they were in studio. For a change they chose to go outside and headed over to Midway Village. The sunny atmosphere gave us a nice background for their engagement session photos.

Ready for a wedding

Julia and Nick pose in the hallway of the church. They are waiting for his sister to dismiss the guests from her own wedding. Julia had first found me through a friend I did a wedding for. Living on the East Coast does not make planning a wedding in the Midwest easy. She booked another photographer after a mis-attempt to get together. After a couple months of rethinking things, she called me up to see if she could cancel her first photographer and have me do the wedding. I'll see them in a few weeks. The window light from the doorway is gave them a nice soft look.

Planning a toss

Beckys DJ called all the single ladies together on the dance floor. There was one person missing though her brother and future sister in law were attempting to be wall flowers. Instead of throwing it over her shoulder, she tossed it straight at Julia. She'll be getting married in 4 weeks.

Bubbles bubbles bubbles

Matt & Louise come out of St Peters to a crowd full of bubble blowers. There are times that the bubbles don't show up or the wind takes them the wrong way. Today was a perfect day and showed well as they celebrated their new life together.

Danish wedding traditions

Dennis and Kelly noted from the beginning that they would be having extra cultural traditions at their wedding. Two of these were when the groom leaves the room, any guy can come and get a kiss from the bride. There were plenty of men willing and able to fulfill this cultural tradition. One other is to cut the end of the grooms socks off at the toe. Dennis was picked up in the middle of the dance floor as the scissors came out.

Wedding photos without the big celebration

Jessica and Julio had a simple marriage at the courthouse. Jessica said the best part was that the judge made them kiss. That part seems to be universal whether you marry in a park or church or city hall. They still wanted beautiful pictures to remember their celebration from and so they came in for a studio session. The finished collection includes a Biblical verse on love from their native language.

In her own style

Kayla came in for her senior pictures. I've got to say she is the first girl that I've photographed with a goth look. Some may try to portray them as having a dark personality, but Kayla wasn't like that at all.

My 2 flower girls

Megan got to be a flower girl for her cousin Joshes wedding. She loves to pose for pictures and this was a perfect time. The trick is to get Katherine to smile without running over to daddy at the same time.

The subject and the background

George and Ashley take a first bite of their cake and a first kiss to follow it. Seeing the bridesmaids look on adds to the scene. In the same way having the alter Bible open to the scripture reading from the day and the candles angled out adds to the drama of the sanctuary.

Still dancing

Kyle and Gina had their wedding and reception at the Venetian Club. Before that they took the time earlier in the day to have their first moment alone together in a friends beautiful back yard garden. Ginas dance partner kept in step with even the youngest and best dancers and was a joy to watch.

Will the dress be worn again? Trash it.

Amanda had done some modeling in the past. So with that in mind, I gave her a proposition to do a trash the dress session. We started in a downtown alley way, made it to a rural barn, stopped by the junk yard (her husband is a car buff) and ended in the rock river.

Using old architecture

Jim and Heather wed at Court Street United Methodist They don't build churches like this any more. Every time I've done a wedding there, I've tried to find a new place to shoot. This time it was the light in the staircase from the stained glass that caught my eye.

Hold it!!!

Bob Griffin of Rockford Renewal Ministries puts a halt to Mike just before he gets a chance to kiss his new wife. Before service, Crystals mom takes a moment to brush pollen off of her forehead. After 5 inches of rain, and planning an outdoor ceremony, they came to the point that we'll just role with it. She had dreamed from the time of being a little girl of having her wedding in her parents yard.

We met on campus

Matt and Becky wanted to go back to NIU to do their engagement session. As we walked the campus they told stories of each of the areas that we walked by. The college years I must admit are some of the best years in life. And from personal experience, it's where I met my wife Sara.

Time together in the park

George and Ashley brought their dog Frankie with them to the park. He was one of the most well behaved dogs I've met. They used their photos to create a guest book for the wedding..

A hot day in an old church with no air

It was a packed church at St Paul Lutheran but despite the heat everything went well. The view from between the bridesmaids gives you a feel like you are just looking in on what is happening. Before the service I asked Lauren if we could go outside for photos. At first she didn't want to because she figured it would be too hot, but when you consider it wasn't any hotter than in the church, we went. The fish eye lens, inferred effect and lighting gives it a unique look.

Bringing the party together

Midway village has a good variety of locations. Sometimes it's hard to get everyone out of the bright sun. The porch of the general store worked well to let everyone come together in the wedding party.

Getting their own custom background and more

Kayla had send me some photos that were some of her favorites from other photographers. When I saw a cool look on a background I didn't have, I said why don't you come paint it in advance. They had so much fun throwing paint at the background that they started throwing paint at each other.

Gotta feel like a baller to play like one!

Amber spends a good part of her spare time with a ball in her hands. On the court she plays strong forward. For this photo I wanted something that emphasized toughness and the need to hold her back. After we did the studio session, we went outside and showed her softer side.

Dancing for dad

Thomas came into the banquet hall at Cliffbreakers to a full house of friends and family. He had turned 60 last month and his wife wanted give him a surprise. He came to the United States in 1973 and found that this is the greatest country on Earth.

Watching for the bride

Micah and the groomsmen look out from under the pavilion to see the bridesmaids walk the path at Anderson Gardens. The light this day gave a soft romantic feel that shows the feelings they have for each other.

Smiles after poops

Jaelynn wasn't really happy when she first came in. But after grandmas came in for their 5 generation portrait she got some relief. From their smiles were abound. I had done her parents wedding photos 4 years ago.

First from the class of 2011

Rachel is the first student I've photographed for the class of 2011. Book call soon for early bird offers. When I lived in Champaign I worked for a yearbook company and shot over 1000 students a year. No creativity in an assembly line. This year I want to shoot 75-100 and have fun doing it.

Working with Haven Network

Several years ago I saw a photography workshop where a professional photographer introduced bereavement photography for stillborn infants. It was so touching that I knew I would get involved, but didn't know how. I was introduced to Kathy at the Haven Network and did my first session this week. While the family didn't get to spend the time they wanted to with this little girl, her memory lives on.

Haven Network

The first dance

Karen and Jeff had their first dance at Rafters in Lena. Sometimes couples hold each other so tight you can't see their faces and other times, they smile and laugh with joy. It tells a lot about how the newlyweds relate to each other. The other pose of Jeff is put in front of the Free Methodist church where he and his family have been members for many years. It's nice to see a continued closeness with the pastor and the congregation.

Back to where our first date was

Steve and Amy had their first date at Anderson Gardens. They were planning a small wedding. But as time goes the guest list grows. They will tie the knot in September.

The family back home

Jan and Don were planning their 50th wedding anniversary. She and her sister married on the same day. They had the party in the back yard. One of the special request was a photo in front of the home. The house number 622 has been a part of the family for years.

The families wedding

Brea married 5 years ago, and now it's her brother Matts time. We stopped in to his parents home for their photos together.

In the great outdoors

Jim and Heather wanted to go out to Rock Cut for their engagement session. They'd rather be camping, fishing, or hiking. The night before we had a huge rain so we were glad we weren't in it. They'll be getting married in July.

Talk to one of Al's gals

Barb hadn't had a professional business portrait for several years. She came in this week for a new look. She does inside and outside sales for Als Carpet, the family business they've had for over 20 years.

A glimpse of sunset

John and Susan were married at Anderson Gardens. And for most photographers, it's a nice luxury to know your not going to have to work hard to find a good setting for a photo. But I had to think just a little different. I looked in advance to know what time sunset would be. We snuck out of the banquet room for 5 minutes and this is what we came back with.

Different locations

Dan and Angela have known each other since they were almost kids. No it wasn't love at first site, but it eventually grew into love. They'll be getting married next May.

Wise Proverbs

Brandon and Kathy went to Rotary Gardens for their engagement session. As we sat on the bench, I told them to try to put themselves in as many poses to illustrate the quote as they could. The original line came out of a poem by Bessie Anderson Stanley written in 1904 entitled "Success."

A Granite Transformation

Linda Young from Granite Transformations had a promotion with WREX to find the ugliest kitchen. Once they did, they offered them a new installation of cabinet refacing. It made a night and day difference. One of the unique things about their corporation is how their process is greener than traditional remodeling because it doesn't require the waste that ends up in the land fill.

The memorable moments

Stephen and Melissa were given a surprise by their parents in the middle of their wedding Their priest, Johnpaul held up a composite of the 2 of them in grade school. They say people who look the same do end up marrying each other. In this case it worked out for the best. I'm just glad they didn't use this the way it was in the movie "How to lose a guy in ten days or less."

Time to play

Josh and Amanda wanted to have fun with their engagement session. Who says playgrounds are just for kids.

Finding good light

Chad and Alicia spent their time in Rocktons downtown district for their engagement session. We timed it so that they would have beautiful sunset light for their session.

Nature Lovers

Lauren and Dennis are outdoors people. They chose to go to the forest preserve in Pecatonica for their engagement session. Lauren took me to the top of the bluffs where they would pose in the prom dresses in high school. I could just imagine girls climbing the rocks to get to the cliffs edge with the river in the background below.

Life on the beach

Ashley and Seaver didn't get their first choice of places for their engagement session. I don't think they realized that Rock Cut had a beach let alone what it could look like with different angles. From here it looks more like your in the tropics than northern IL.

Modeling and getting out of a photography rut

Rose Flack had just moved to Rockford and had left her portfolio back west in her old home town. Sometimes it's nice to do a session where your goal is not a pretty 8x10 for grandmas book case. I had a lot of fun shooting this as Rose was an easy model to work with.

A better way to buy your ink

Toni Sparacino, owner of Laser Care, will be focused in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine. They sell ink and toner cartridges to work just as well as OEM. The are also one of the few places that can repair printer big and small rather than telling you to go and buy another throw away printer at the big box store.

Almost to graduation

Meredith was coming close to graduation time when she called for her senior pictures. We knew there weren't any pretty gardens so we had to find other ways to take photos. This was done in an ally behind a white building and made for a great color keyed photo.

We met at work

Gina and Kyle went downtown on the last snowy day of the year for their pictures. We had tried to go in January but couldn't find a Saturday with a fresh snow. We did and this was taken across from the administration building where they first met.

The cleanest carpets ever or it's FREE

Brent at All Seasons was needing new photos for his web site. As the second generation owner of the business, they have a reputation to upload as offering the most thorough carpet cleaning possible.

Executives and finacers

Craig Klaas and Steven L. Schou, partners of Klaas Financial stand in the lobby of their office. They wanted an updated staff photo and also some extra personal photos for their marketing pieces.

Putting your Health First

Rob Andino and his wife Renee are both doctors of chiropractic. They were needing an updated photo for their advertising campaign. Renee was wanting something more earth tone. To match the background I changed his tie.

Getting hitched on the farm

Mike and Crystal plan to marry in her parents back yard. They chose to do their engagement session there so that we could get a feel of the area.

Finding new freedom

Jax has learned how to crawl and almost how to stand on his own. He was all over the studio when his parents brought him over. He liked to come and crawl on top of my camera.

Permaculture 101

The kids helped me start a garden. We started seeds under lights in the basement. Permaculture takes into consideration that the average meal travels 1500 miles to get to our plate. Doing more localy is better for the enviroment.

Newlyweds come back to visit

Paisley came to me about a year after her parents were married. Rob and Joella are already singing her praise and worship songs.

A white winter wedding

Joe and Angela had a beautiful wedding Saturday. Despite it being January, we were able to get beautiful photos outside. Their white tux and gown with a white background made for a nice high key look.

A couple of hot dogs

Buster and Barkley wanted to go anywhere but where they were told. But after I waited them out and they learned their environment, they were more willing to stay in one place.

Ready for the wedding

Mariana, Abigail, Amelia, and Sarah all line up before Teresa is set to go down the isle. The light coming from the doorway just let the sparkle come in a brighten their smiles.

Looking pure as snow

Angie and Robb had both come in for their business portrait. this time they wanted something for themselves. They brought in their 2 dogs that even by their own admission get treated like kids. with a little fineness we found a way to get them to sit still together.

A little santas helper

Parents will dress up their kids for holiday parties and then because they look so cute, bring them in for pictures. We took both full length and close ups. The color of her eyes just pops with the other colors in the portrait.

New in the world

Joel came in with his extended family to see all the grand kids together. Scheduling was kind of fun because they knew one cousin would only be in town for a short while and they didn't know when the newest member of the family would arrive. At 4 days old he's not sure what he's gotten into.

Adding to the family

Calvin and Tanisha have come back 3 years in a row for their Christmas cards. This time we both got to talk about the surprises in our life. We all agreed we are done having kids.

The family comes together

When Janelle came in with her family she let me know that it had been 19 years since their last family portrait. They had worn the photographer out. So even with a large group, it wasn't hard to get them organized and looking good together.

Home from college

There are times when parents send their kids off to college and they then become empty nesters. After a while they can start to miss them. So when Kristen and Stephanie came home for Christmas break they scheduled a portrait.

Out in the leaves

Martha came in for senior pictures Monday. She didn't want to jump into my pile of leaves, but did end up sitting next to them. Later she climbed down into the creek. This is how my daughter Megan will be when she grows up. She likes to go hiking on the trails.

Our own family

Ever since we got married, we have tried every year to get our own portraits made. This was taken in front of the school down the street. Katherine kept watching me and didn't want to watch the camera when I would use the radio controlled shutter. There was definitely photoshop added to this photo.

Classical musician

I first met Chantelle 4 years ago when I did her familys portrait and brothers senior pictures. I saw this done with a movie cover and told her to bring her music to go along with the violin. The result is a multi-layered image to tell the story of her music.

A long road ahead

Brandon and Allison wed last Saturday. They picked to go out to Rock Cut state park for pictures afterward. Thanks Mike for helping me with their wedding.

Under the falls

Jenny and Chris wed at Anderson Gardens this week. It was neat to see how much fall color they had planted into the gardens that you would have thought would be all Japanese. There were more burning bushes than I would have expected. Their reception was then at the new Franchescos. If you haven't been there for dinner yet, it's a nice classy new place.

Lighting up the night

Park Lanes in Loves Park was looking to have a calendar for 2010. The 32 lane house also includes an arcade, pro shop, snack bar and shooters lounge complete with a new outdoor patio. The calendar will include coupons and specials for the year. This photo was taken with the new Canon 7D which has a low light ability that is 4 times more sensitive then the previous generation cameras.

Class field trip

Adam got to go to Currans orchard with his class at Fairview. The first day they tried to go it rained. The trick is to twist it off the tree so that the bud is left in tact for next years apples.

A love for nature

Stephen wanted to have outside pictures taken for his senior pictures. And for his favorite place, we went to Severson Dells. You would never guess that this was taken with grass as the background. We planned to go at sunset to get the soft evening light.

Indian Summer

Dan and Melissa planned a fall wedding. Sometimes it can be hard to get the right color trees in the same background as the bridge. The leaves of this one were changed through a 10 step process in photoshop. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Coming back after the wedding

Andrea and Scott got married a few years ago. I always tell clients the honeymoon lasts until your first child is born. Then when their first child is born they can come back and the first session is on me. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Flowers in the garden

Mike and Gina married Sunday with a reception following at the Hotel Baker. With private gardens along the river there were plenty of places for photos. In this one Gina left her flowers sitting on the row of hedges. She got only so far before it was time to kiss Mike again. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Working in great light

Some modern churches have gone to auditoriums with no windows and with that not much character. Court Street United Methodist was built in 1887 under the direction of architect David Keyt. Here Brad and Amber embrace each other in a lasting kiss. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Families staying close

The Falconers came to see me for a family portrait 4 years ago. Now they've added a new member and it was time for a photo again. Katherine has blended in well as the newest member. She and Etienne married last year. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Helping out with the train

Kathleens ring bearer wanted to help more than most. So when he saw grandma holding up Kathleens train, he thought that was the thing to do. You can see the rest of their photos here.

A dads assurance

As the bride walks down the aisle, all eyes are on her. And while that is the case in this instance also, most wouldn't have looked to see the grooms reaction. Brian reaches out to his dad with one last small embrace. It's a sign to say son, I'm proud of you. You can see the rest of their photos here.

A sign of being looked after

Beth and her mom Smadar hold up feathers next to each other and share with each other their thoughts. It was a sign that they felt her dad who had past was looking over them. Later in the day Beth and John found another feather on the path in the garden. Just another reminder that weddings aren't just a day of celebrations but of remembrances. You can see the rest of their photos here.

A story for every photo

Mike and Gina stopped at at least half a dozen places for their engagement session. And every time there was a reason. We stopped in front of a mural near Mikes first condo. We went under the bridge where Mike used to drive by on the way to work. We stopped on Michigan avenue in front of the restaurant where Mike purposed. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. All of their pictures told a new story. You can see the rest of their photos here.

A dog is mans best friend

Daisy was rescued from the streets by a family who found her before the sheriff could be called to put her down. There was no shelter like Noahs Ark so the family brought her back to Rockford. She has lived with Beverly for the last 2 years. Beverly came to me through a promotion at Ab Fab Saloon and Spa when they had their annual cuts for muts promotion. They raised over $1500 and all the money went to Noahs Ark.

Sisters are there to help

Michelle helps Martina her twin sister put her bracelet. It's one of those little moments they remember and share. A lot of brides like to get ready at their childhood home. And even though she's been all grown up, moved out, and the last to get married, it's nice to put a nice closing on a final chapter before she heads off to the ceremony where she'll change her name. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Wines with a local flair

Peggy and her husband bought 18 acres just east of Galena with hopes of starting a winery. Turns out the soil was just right when they planted their first vines 10 years ago. They opened Massbach Ridge in 2003 with 4 varieties and have expanded it to 18. She has one several awards but the one Peggy is most proud of is a double gold for her Traumen awarded in a national competition in California. It's a rich dessert wine made from the Frontenac grape. You can find her wines in Woodmans in Rockford along with many other retail stores, but the way that most people prefer it to come into her shop. driving the winding roads and the country side will remind you of Tuscany and she says most people interested in small wineries will shop at several of them on the same day almost as a collector. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Sunset on the boat

Dennis and Martina wanted something different for their engagement photos. So they went out to do something they love to do. We took their boat out on Lake Michigan so they could enjoy the skyline. Yes they are finding they are outgrowing their smaller place in the city, but that is where their heart will always be. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Everybody up

When you get bridesmaids together who used to be in pom pons or cheerleading, you can have some crazy poses. I don't know if the guys all liked it but it definitely got a laugh. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Tom Cruise is off to Sothebyes

Jim is antique dealer who came across a pool cue that ended up in his own closet for 5 years. Come to find out there were only 3 of these signed from the movie, Color of Money with Tom Cruise. After sending my pictures to an authenticator in Arizona, he learns there is one just like it at the Smithsonian and the next trip is to Sothebyes Auction House to see just how much this rare gem can fetch.

Practice for the wedding day

Dawn and Micah plan to marry at Anderson Gardens next year. Because of that, the park let them come in to take their engagement photos today. Their courtship could almost be the plot of a movie. They met through friends when they were in their wedding party. And yes, they will be inviting them to their own wedding next June. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Tender moments

A friend of Beths suggested they go to the jogging path by the YMCA for pictures and so that's were we ended up. The view of the river and the light from the evening sun made for a beautiful day that we both thought might bring rain. Getting couples close without hiding themselves is the fun part of creating moments like this. You can see the rest of their photos here.

You'll find love in the garden

Nate and Lisa try to take a moment away from the rest of the reception, but their wedding party has decided to follow along. Their wedding was at St Peters with their reception at Anderson Gardens. I did Lisa's sister Lons wedding 5 years ago. Of the 3 remaining sisters, non of them wanted to admit to being anywhere near tying the knot. You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos here.

New outfits for senior pictures

It never fails to see seniors come in with ready for their senior pictures with tales of going shopping the day before. Brianna was no exception. When I saw this dress I knew I had the perfect background for her. I added the swirls just to make it fun and to compliment the paisleys. You can see the rest of her photos here.

No cares in the world

Tammy & Luke walk the beaches relaxing before their wedding. Several people commented on how relaxed they were. This is characteristic of the way they started their day off together. Couples who don't see each other until the aisle seem much more nervous. They go through the ceremony, have 200 guests to great, photos to pose for, and then family waiting for them at the reception hall. the first time they have alone together is at 11 o'clock at night. Instead then spent a moment together just after getting ready. Because of this they ended up sharing their day together instead of felling tense for the start of it. You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos here.

Back to where it started

Brandon & Allison first sat on this bench at Atwood Homestead when they were 16. Not too many can say they ended with their high school sweat heart. To tell of those first meals that she made for him of meatballs you would think that it was just yesterday or that they can plan on serving meatballs at their 50th wedding anniversary. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Little smiles

Izzi sits up and smiles for me on Friday. I did the photos for her day care in which a friend from BNI also uses. Sara was very happy with the way the photo day went. It was an in home setting with only 8 kids, which most photography studios would think too small to do. But for me it was a nice relaxed setting to work.

A stroll in the park

Dan & Michelle plan to marry in Milwaukee, but kept an open eye to find just the right photographer. She grew up in Rockford, and stayed in town after college because she liked the area and a good job market. It was easy to schedule their engagement session when they came back for family function. Her one request was that they don't go to Sinnisippi. Too many of her prom pictures and friends weddings had been there and so Melissa wanted a change. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Getting your mind out of the Gutter

Renick Shank, owner of R&S Gutter Cleaning Services climbs up on the roof of a clients home to clean out their gutters. Along the way, Renick collects most of the debris into a bucket so as to not make the mess fall into the yard below. The service was just under $100 for the year and included the initial clean, and again in October with a third cleaning in the spring.

Working backgrounds and clothing together

Brad and Amber were great at taking my clothing suggestion advise. They brought 2 outfits that matched. We went to the Rotary Gardens in Janesville and they were both surprised at how beautiful it was. This was taken with them sitting on the white paver patio and then edited in Photoshop to give it just the right look. You can see the rest of their photos here.

All grown up after 30 years

Tom raised his 4 kids and is at the stage of his life when they have all grown up and now coming back with the grand kids. Knowing that he was going to sell the house shortly, they wanted to stage one last family portrait in front of their home. Looking into each of the windows is like looking into the eyes of a friend.It brings back good memories of what happened in each of the rooms of the home. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Our junior fire fighters

Megan Adam and Katherine sit on the front bumper of a fire truck at the woods street station. We got to go there on their day home at the invite of Charlie whose wife works with my wife. They were a little shy to jump in the truck at first, but the next day wore their hats most of the day. Charlie says they get a ton of grade school classes in the fall for field trips. Most of their calls are medical followed by traffic related. They have gone 400 days without having to respond to a structure fire.

All snuggled in together

There comes a time in every family when you just have to get down on the floor. Thankfully Jennifers kids were old enough to realize that they weren't going to catch cooties from each other. It gives a more real look than a formal posed picture could. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Natural monochrome backgrounds

Ana and Brian stopped by Baha'i Temple and gardens in Wilmette. Their tux and gown make for a well blended portrait as your eye is drawn into focus on them sharing a moment. You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos here.

Catching a glimpse of each other

Fred & Kristin married in a beautiful Methodist church in downtown rockford. I wanted it to have an old time feel when I took it into photoshop. The lighting on the couple is just gorgeous as it wraps around the windows from all sides. You can see the rest of their photos here.

Going back to where she said yes

Karen and Jeff invited me to Freeport for their engagement session. He asked the question at the top of the waterfall. Half the fun was trying to find them. The roads are all one way, and they were at the top of a hill. When I went looking for a stream that fed the waterfall, it didn't exist. It is fed by a man made pond that fills and lets the water flow over the rocks. We found some great props and discovered neither one would be a good candidate as a MTV model, but the entire time was fun just to hang out together.

Pond installation

Green Acres Lawn Care and Landscaping looks to add a boarder wall around a new pond in a clients back yard. The company is owned by Joshua Robertson and has been in business for 5 years. You can read their complete story in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.

25 years celebrated with a champion

Grace Family Church opened it's doors with a sign that stated, the church is not a museum to the saints but a hospital to the sinners. Carman last came to Rockford for a sold out crown of 9000. Tonight was a private concert for the 400 members to celebrate their milestone.

Senior pictures tell who you are

Kelly talked about wanting to be a journalist when she grows up and had been on the high school newspaper staff. Knowing this in advance, I got 100 outdated newspapers from the library to wallpaper a section of the studio for her. As a final touch, I wrote a story of her transferring to the University of Missouri for college and overlaid it on the photo.

Seeing a sister again

Lisa first met me at her sister Lons wedding. For years Lon told me you better keep taking photos so you can do my sisters wedding. They will be getting married in June at Anderson Gardens.

Why I will never put my kids on Ritalin

I went to a documentary movie last night sponsored by Dr Bill Koppari of Lifestyle Chiropractic. Generation RX is a film that shows how Prozac and Ritalin along with other similar medications were introduced in the 60's in mental hospitals, backed off of in the 70's and then exploded in use as pharmaceutical companies looked for ways to expand their markets. These drugs were never designed for children. Studies show as high as 1 in 6 of our boys are being medicated. Is this due to lazy parenting, an imbalance that could be corrected in other ways or a combination of the above. In Dr Kopparis talk after he noted the connection between poor spinal alignment and how the nervous system controls the body.

Trash the dress

Jeni and Dustin married yesterday. She is game to try anything so I suggested climbing in the pool at Coco Keys. We called and they were as excited to do it as we were. They opened the park at 9am just for us. It didn't take long for them to get completely wet.

Take your kids to work day

Big Megan (as apposed to little Megan my daughter) has been one of my wifes close friends for the last 5 years. With no close neices or nephews, She and Jeff asked Megan and Adam to be their ring bearer and flower girl . They didn't quite understand that daddy couldn't show them the camera back 100 times. (Just imagine if they had done so as the organ was playing "Hear Comes the Bride.") You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos here.

Hiding around the corner

The pastors wife Candy gives Megan a last minute pep talk before the ceremony. Just around the corner is the parents ready to be seated along with Jeff and the pastor. The antisipation is always a fun part of the day. You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos here.

Networking is not just socializing

I was invited by Brent of All Seasons Carpet Cleaning to join Together we Grow. There are 35 companies ranging from mechanics to printers. What I like about it is that it is structured in such a way that they emphasize passing referrals. Business Networking International is the largest type of association of it's kind with over 2000 chapters. They meet every Tuesday at 7am Forest Hills Lanes.

A look for business

Debra Bachar & Scott Norman have been owners of Blueberry Business Group for 9 years. They are consultants to the top level CEO's of food service and CPG product suppliers. They wanted a couple different looks. Debra said as the field is 95% male she wanted something stronger. Scott on the other hand wanted a warmer look because most executive men are a little less smiley. You can visit their site at Blueberry Business Group.


An update for the brochure

Angie works for personal care. They have started to use peoples faces with their marketing pieces knowing that it's easier to do business if you can put a face with a name. It must be working. Her husband called me for the same type of photo for his work a couple months ago.


Caught by mom

Tyler was given the task of running around and laughing. Should be easy, but he found other things to distract him like the electric outlet. At one point he started running in between moms legs. To see that smile as he came through was priceless. He'll be on display at Associated Bank where his dad is a personal banker. You can see the rest of the photos here.


Spinning around

Jenny and Chris spend some time down by the river Sunday soaking in the sun. I like to see a variety of expressions and told them to spin around. They have an October wedding planned at Anderson Gardens. You can see the rest of the photos here.


A man and his loves

Tom and Libby married Saturday. Tom is not the kind that wanted a limo and all the pomp and circumstance with that. So he asked dad if he could take out the girl friend. They had come across this 64 vette in need of a frame up redo. The guys spent so much time on it that mom nicknamed it the girl friend. Libby knows she's number 1 in his heart. You can see thier album here and the rest of the photos here.


Come to where the bait is

Rylile is like many 2 year olds. He's interested in being everywhere but where you want them to be. So when I wanted him to sit in between the blocks, I got out a secret weapon.Candy. Did it work? Not really. Rylile came in quick, scooped it up and was back to exploring the ramp. You can see the rest of the photos here.


As the bride walks in

John turns to smile at his niece as Jessica and her dad come into sight at Fisher Chapel on the campus of Rockford College. From there they spent the evening at the Rockford Women's Club. They danced until 11 at night. Jessica had studied dance in college and to see her with her guest, I think I was the only one there who hadn't had dance lessons. It was just plain fun to watch them all. You can see thier album here and the rest of the photos here.


Free Facebook fun

Jessica and John married last night. If it was anything like her sister Joanna's wedding last year it would be fun. I had to find a way to give them something different. So I got this idea from Joe Mikos in Oak Bluffs Maine. It's fun to surf the web and see what other photographers are up to. I'll put these up on my Facebook page to share.


Spring means home improvement

Mike Sanders owner of Crimson Valley Landscaping arranges a landscaping installation at a home in Belvidere. The home owners were so happy wit the fire pit that Crimson Valley did last year that they invited them back for additional patio work this year. Their business will be featured in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.


Still young and in love

Frankie and Al were on their way to the court house today. When your over 70 you don't need all the pomp and sircumstance. To work with them and to hear them banter and tease you would have thought they were married for 40 years.

Almost Graduated

Michelle was one who like some of her friends is a little late in getting senior pictures done. She'll be graduating from Christian Life next month. She wants to be a paralegal when she grows up. It wasn't quite green enough for traditional outside pictures so we had to punt a little. But the soft breeze made Michelles hair look great. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Rockford Tea

David Hale leads a group of 300 to city hall in protest of high taxation without the government listening to what the people want in what will be more than 2000 tea parties. This was done on December 16, 1773 when they dumped $1 million worth of tea into the Boston harbor and has come to be known as the Boston Tea Party.

The goal is not to disregard taxes, or to avoid them but to limit government waste. The next event is the green envelope project will send 3 million envelopes to DC to repeal the 16th and 17th amendment and abolish the federal reserve.

Going up Mt. Ranier not sliding down

My brother Chad was always the most adventurous. He's the kind that drives a jeep with a kayak rack on top. But he got a little carried away on Saturday. Chad will be having surgery at 2:00 pm as a result of an accident he had on the slopes of Mt. Ranier. He lost his footing on an icy incline and in the tumble down the mountain fractured both bones of his right leg near his ankle. At the moment, it looks like he will have screws put in both bones, and that the ligaments will heal on their own. They will be able to tell more when they open him up.

Fortunately, he was climbing with a group of mountaineers that know what they are doing. On the way down the mountain, they came across a hiking Park Ranger that was able to get a sled to get him the rest of the way down the mountain. Even with all of the good help, it took 5 hours to get him off the mountain.

Running for a cause

Tim and Kari had a beautiful wedding 18 months ago. As a college athlete, Tim appeared to be in perfect shape, but died suddenly in January. Since that time, Kari has taken up the cause to promote tissue donation, of which Tim had done. Each year more than 35,000 people from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds are diagnosed with life-threatening blood diseases. Many could be cured with a marrow or stem cell transplant, but they need matching donors. It will be my first 5K in over 10 years.

You can find more about the Rock River Valley Blood Centers Red Shoe Run and Kari's team here.

Letting her opinion be known

Jane called needing an updated photo for work. She has managed to grab the ear of the editor at the Stateline News and is writing op/ed pieces. We managed to have our own lively discussion about gun control. (Seems to be when Australia had people turn them in, armed robberies went up 44%. It's only law abiding people who are compliant. the criminals don't seem to listen.) When not writing she enjoys doing radio voice overs, reading, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Find the ugly building

Nicole and Joe knew they wanted something different for their engagement session. They know they'll see more traditional pictures on their wedding day. As we drove by the park we all laughed. We were out to find the ugliest building we could. Along the way we stepped in broken glass, moved styrofoam for effect, and had to dust ourselves off more than once.

I can't wait to do it again. Only next time I'll find a wedding dress on ebay for the shoot. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Pictures of every part of life

Kate is one who still enjoys looking through old family photo albums. Maternity is just as important as the first day of school or any other milestone. Getting pictures on disk is not the way to go. Somehow they get lost on computers and don't get appreciated. She wanted to see if I could throw her tattoo in in a fun way. This one made me think. I met Kate at a BNI group where small business owners get together to exchange marketing ideas. You can see the rest of the photos here.

So big

Kanden is a typical one year old. We didn't know if he was going to want his picture taken at first. After a while and lots of movement by grandma, we got him excited.

Home for spring break

Melissa got to come home for a week from college. We took plenty of photos with lots of combinations. Olive the dog even got in on the fun.

Speedy Delivery

Katherine was nice and sleepy until we put the into the box. As we all know, the stork has retired. The UPS man brought this delivery to us. She was in the hospital less than 40 minutes when she was born.

High school sweet hearts

Libby and Toms wedding is just around the corner. And while they got their photos, Katelyn made a friend with Megan. I love it when couples bring part of their personality to the wedding. For Tom, a limo was not his choice, but instead has to decide which muscle car to take for them. You can see the rest of the photos here.


Every girl wants to look good in their wedding dress. Krista was no different. She and Jay went on the wilder side with their engagement photos so I wanted to find looks for Krista that would do just as well in her wedding dress. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Big Megan to follow little Megan

Megan used to work with my wife Sara at Crusader and they've been good friends ever since. So without nieces and nephews, they recruited Megan and Adam to be their flower girl and ring bearer. Jeff and Megan are planning for a May wedding. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Beautiful blues

Tifanie was hoping for a white wedding. In the days before, it had warmed up to spring jacket weather. But somehow she got her wish. Brandon and Tifanie were greeted to a couple inches of white fluff Saturday morning. This photo was taken with one of my favorite lenses. It gives you such a small depth of field that the right eye lashes are sharp and the left fall soft. You can see the rest of the photos here.

Girl boy girl pattern

Sara woke me up at 4am Sunday morning to get the "What to do when your expecting" book. We called the hospital, called our friend Lisa to come watch Megan and Adam, and got to the hospital at 5:07. There was no time for pain medication, the midwife was paged, and got there about 5:25. By 5:37 Katherine Lena was born. Everything went smoothly. We actually filled out the "consent for father to be in the room" paperwork after she was born. She is 7lbs, 7 1/2 oz and 21 inches tall. She has blue eyes, lots of hair and looks like her siblings. Megan wanted a sister so there would be a pattern. Mama, baby and the rest of the family are doing good.


Playing in the snow

Luke and Tammy forgot they could have an engagement session when she called to confirm time lines for their wedding day. Lets do it outside and with that I thought she meant later in the spring. It had just finished snowing so the trees and ground had a nice fresh look. You can see rest of the photos in the shopping cart here.

Family get togethers

Eppie wanted to get everyone together for a family portrait. There were 27 all together and grandmas house was not big enough. We managed to get everyone in, and even to all look good at nearly the same time, Kids included.

The break out circle

Asheley and DJ married Tuesday so that they could take advantage of her school break. DJ works his downrock moves spinning around on the floor while his friends watch and wait to take their turn. It takes a lot of upper body strength to do a freeze or suicide and make it look easy. You can see the rest of the photos in the shopping cart here.

That looks like a fashion shoot picture

Jay & Krista wanted something in red and black. We started in a 40 anniversary pose first and then changed it up from there. One funny on for Krista, and then into a more modern look. You can see rest of the photos in the shopping cart here.

Just around the corner

DJ and Asheley didn't plan a typical day for a wedding. She being a teacher didn't want to have it interfere with the school year and didn't want to wait. The solution... Tuesday before Christmas. Now there is plenty of time to take for the honeymoon and hopefully that's a much warmer place than where we are now.

Putting on the finishing touch

Molly and her brides maids sat in her parents kitchen to get ready for the wedding. It seems as though the prepping starts earlier and earlier. Just pass around a mimosa and enjoy the time. Outside it drizzled freezing rain. that canceled any plans we had made to go to the Woodstock square. You can see their album design here and the rest of the photos in the shopping cart here.

Just starting to walk

Christine came with her parents for a family photo. Then she changed into her little princes dress. When they are just starting to walk, you put them at one end of the studio, let grandma shake the rattle and shoot away. Then mom picks her up and your back to start it over. She looks cute as she's determined to get where she wants to go.

The girls together

I did Kristins wedding 3 years ago. It was time again to come back for extended family portraits without the bouquet of flowers. Dad was sure there was a good one after about 5 shots and his time to be out of the picture had come. But the girls wanted one together with mom. Dad played his role well as he was able to get them to laugh and smile.

Downtown Jumps

Rob & Joelle wanted a small wedding with mostly friends and family. Knowing that they would have nothing but barren trees at the park, they wanted more of a urban look. This was taken right outside of Brio where the reception was. We ran into the streets in between lights several times to get this photo.

Beautiful fall days

I've taken pictures of Debs cakes for years, but never of Deb. As the owner of Simply Cake, she's always at the reception hall before I get there. This time she wanted to be in the photos and invited her family.

Big blues

Grace spent much of the time looking at mom. Sometimes it was with a smile, sometimes just to wonder what the bright light was. I'm not usually one that comes in this close but it shows off her eyes so well that it was my favorite.

Where she said yes

John & Jessica took a hike on Saturday to a bluff at Starved Rock state park. They had to jump fences to get there, but the view was worth it. John had grown up in the LaSalle Peru area and had visited the park often. Even as a kid, he knew one day he would be back to this spot to purpose.

Tunnel of color

Matt and Danielle purposely planned to marry in late fall for the colors. The pose gives them a very modernistic feel in a very traditional setting.

We get family pictures too

The last time we had family pictures, Adam was 3 months old and had to lay against a pillow. Yes, it's like the shoemakers kids that go barefoot. I got to run back and forth with the self timer several times only to discover one child not looking half the time. Dave, another father in the park, finally came to the rescue and clicked the button for us 20 times in a row and let me not have to trip over myself.

Wishing them well

Jason and Heather leave the church to a crowd throwing rice. (well at least sugar that looks like rice) The original custom goes back to Roman days when it wished the couple fertility and prosperity. Ann Landers brought this myth to light writing that it could make the little birds stomach expand and explode. Not true says the USA Rice Foundation.

In the Spirit of Caring

Crusader Clinic each year seeks to honor those in the community who show there ability to share with others. Janett Kjellstrom is one of those ladies. For the last 20 years she has been behind the scenes and involved with Midway Village, the Rockford Symphony, U of I College of Medicine along with several other projects. Today she stands on a bridge next to the garden she helped to make possible at Rosecrance. Thank you again for your many years of caring.

Peeking in at life

Mary and Phil married in the gardens of Belvidere park. As they chose to meet each other before the ceremony for a little special time together, the girls couldn't resist taking it all in.

Fingers taste good

When your are 3 months old there's not much you can do besides lay there. But Layla is good at that. We got some cute expressions. She was even happy to leave the bow on.

How low can you go?

Kims brother slides under the broom stick in the classic party game of the limbo. Pat and Kim held their wedding and reception at the Hilton after too much rain took them out of Klehm .

A clean new look

I know Brent from a business networking group, and he's been saying for a while that he is in need of a new portrait for his marketing for All Seasons Carpet Cleaning. After 2 outfits and about 25 takes, this was his favorite.

Letting the veil fly

Theresa and Adam wed under the gazebo at midway village. The recreated early American town has a romantic feel to it. I wanted a picture that kind of had a whisked away to another place look to it. Lisa, Theresa sister, volunteers to toss the vail into the "not so blowing wind, only to yank a little too hard and see it come out. They both had a good laugh from it.

A kiss of excitement

Levi and Katrina had a small wedding Friday. Afterwards as they were joking around, I said Levi, just plant one on her. Katrina was surprised to say the least, as you could tell they enjoy each others company.

The answer is... Tylenol and Prayer

I knew as soon as I saw Father Koutnik, I knew it would be a good ceremony. He brings more to the service than just the wedding, and challenges the guests in attendance in how they live their lives. Nicholas and Kaitlins was no different. At one point Father Koutnik asks, "What do you have to take for a headache from having to ask for forgiveness too much?" The answer he was thinking was Tylenol or Advil, but from the front row, Lisa answers "Love and Prayer." It caught everyone off guard causing them to laugh. The wedding was at St. Peters with a reception at Cliffbreakers. The Matt Stedman Band entertained at the party until 11 that night.

Where memories are raised

Molly and her mom came to talk about he wedding a couple weeks ago. I love to show engagement photos from special places. Sometimes it's where they got engaged, sometimes it's where the couple hangs out, sometimes back where they had the most fun growing up. Her family has lived on the 34 acres for over 20 years. And as the kids have grown, the decision of keeping up with the chores on their own or downsizing come into play. Molly and Mike then take time to recall an old memory as they look forward to starting new ones. The other memorable one was in the meadow. Molly has a favorite tree that looks like it aught to be in the tropics because the leaves are 5 times larger than an oak or maple you'd expect to see in Illinois.

Making a connection

Malt and Terri met through the online dating service Cashe` Connections. Matt had gotten a couple responses and then asked if he wanted to be the single spotlight, the eligible bachelor of the month. I knew as soon as I spotted them in the parking lot this was going to be fun. I had done video shoots with Malt, a true thespian at heart. Terri teaches grade school and you could see from her energy her kids love her.

Hitting it off

Kim and Pat have come to me for family photos for 5 years. But this is the first time I've gotten them alone. What do you do for fun is one of my favorite questions. To me a par 4 means 4 strokes to get it to the hole and 4 to get it in the cup. They laughed and then demonstrated where there balls might land after driving them off the tee.

Coming home to wed

Andrew and Vanessa married in her moms back yard. And usually when you hear that you think "dinky city lot" But in this case the house sits on 7 acres. The family fell in love with the site before they even walked into the home and you can see why.

Wedding among the roses

Jason and Tammie had a small wedding Friday in Sinnisippi park. I got called to do it just this week, because Jason just found out he'd been called to active duty to go to the middle east. I'm happy for them to see them able to commit their vows and seal the bond when they will be so far apart.

No, it's not another fish eye

Brandon and Tiffanie met me downtown Chicago to do their engagement session. And although my authentic dog was missing celery salt, it was great to get into the city. Cloud Gate just gives the warped effect because of its size and reflectivity of it's surface. I think we stopped at about 10 spots along the way including Buckingham Fountain where Brandon showed again how he proposed.

Bringing forth the Sacraments

Mary and Paul married Saturday at Holy Family Church. It is a common practice to have a friend or family member to bring forth the Eucharist, but I haven't seen many times when it was kids. To me it showed even more symbolism because Jesus tells us to come to follow him with child like faith.

Friends in nice places

Jason and Stephanie had originally planned to go to Sinnisippi, but with all the rain didn't know if that was a good idea. That's when a friend of theirs suggested they could come to his house. The backside of the yard was where his own daughter had gotten married and the area made for beautiful pictures.

A colorful couple

Derek and Kari got married at Klehm on Saturday with bright beautiful weather. At one point 2 groomsmen were laying on the ground with the flowers being cute for the girls. At that point I said if it's good enough for 2 it's good enough for all. Everyone had fun playing with the fun umbrellas.

We'll bid $2

Sometimes the DJ's play games at receptions to make the crowd interactive. This night Dewey invited the guests to bid on the first dance of the dollar dance. Aaron went first and the bidding started going higher when he took his tux jacket off. Stefanies 2 brothers decided to get into a major bidding war. In the end, we just wanted to take care of our sister is what they said, and the couple ended up with a nice little purse to take on their honeymoon.

Bringing families together

Nick and Karla married at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church downtown. The unity candle tradition started in the 1930's as a way for couples to unite the love of their families. This is shown as the two outer candles are lit by the mothers and then brought together into one by the newly married couple.

What was I thinking?

Frontline Crusades held a concert and sports presentation at First Free Church. This was not your grandmothers Sunday morning music. Flatfoot56 describes themselves as Celtic Punk. I've never been in a mosh pit. I listen to talk radio if you must know. But the idea of getting photos of 40 guys running circles around me was intriguing. Then I got hit hard, picked up, and dragged out in the blink of an eye.

A historical moment

Martin and Sarah went downtown to Veterans Memorial Hall for their reception Saturday. I have always admired it both for the beauty of the architecture and what it means to the country. In the same way families go to have photographs made so that they can remember and show their kids what it was like when they were at different times in their lives.

This Memorial Hall, the first of it's kind in the United States dedicated to our veterans of all wars, was completed in the year 1903 with dedication ceremonies on June third of that year by our twenty - sixth president Theodore Roosevelt with these words:

"No more fitting memorial could be erected to the men who fought, than a hall such as this..... a hall beautiful because of the uses to which it is consecrated"

Brand new life

Ryan and Kristin married just under 3 years ago. I was one of the first calls mom made when she got home from the hospital. Layla is just under 10 days old. She's already learned that she doesn't like being on her tummy and loves her pacifier.

On a mission to clean

Reid takes a broom across the steel support beams in the gym at Flinn Middle School. The result was a floor covered in 3 inch dust bunnies. The project is part of Sharefest and also includes East High School and Stiles Elementary School.

Laughing together

Joe and Lindsay stopped at Midway Village for photos after the ceremony. They were lucky to find a spot because Sinnisippi was flooded out.

Good looking poses

April and Jonathan stretched me a little on Saturday. They were looking for more contemporary look. Jonathan was ready for me and had his favorite poses and knew which side made him look his best. If you had told me a year ago I'd be shooting bridal portraits hand held, at 1600 ISO I'd have thought you were nuts, but I like the way this turned out.

What does church light look like

There are many days that the lighting on a photo just looks kind of flat. And then there are places where you wouldn't expect it that make for a beautiful portrait. Josh and Kari married at St. Anthony Catholic Church. They made it to Sinnisippi just in time to miss the rain and finished the night at the Clocktower.

Living in the county

Kim and Rob wanted a simple outdoor wedding. But what they got was clouds and the rain that followed. It didn't break their spirits and everyone had a good time. Congratulations Rob & Kim. And I'm sure with all that rain you will have lots of good luck for the rest of your lives! Thank you again Tamara for giving me assistance on this wedding.

Learning how to pose

I spent a week in Iowa with Gary (pointing to the model) and Pamela (behind the big camera) Box at MAIPP photography school. There are times that I think I understand allot about photography, and then you get together with a group like this and you start to understand how much you can learn. It was a great week.

Not too late for senior pictures

Alisen called looking for senior pictures even though she graduated last night. She loves bright colors and loved this one because she said she wanted to get her hair cut short for summer. Some day she wants to work in a vets office and loves animals. You can see a video in facebook here

Great new backgrounds

One thing you'll always here senoirs talk about is what kind of backgrounds do you have. Julianna came in with her best friend Alisen and we had to try this out. I saw this from a photographer in California and is modeled from the now defunt Off The Wall props company.

Micky is mans best friend

Travis had won a portrait session from an auction at Roscoe PTO. He new he wanted Micky to have an nice full coat, but also knew it was time to trim him down to stay cool for summer. He and Chase brought him in today. He was very well behaved, but was more interested in the light than in me.

Fallen for her hero

Jeff and Alissa stopped by the firehouse on Rural on the way to the reception. It was easier than asking the crew to bring the truck to the church. Jeff had even made it a point to have the sign out front read with their names. Alissa was half smiling half laughing when I asked Jeff to dip her. Some of the wedding party even jumped up on top of the truck to get a better view.

No way out

It's the father of the brides job to check on things the day of the wedding. And with that he sent both Cory and Angella a text message to see how things were. Corys reply was that he had already left for Vegas. Cory had to make another attempt, but this time there were plenty of people to stop him.

Making mobile repairs

Joe at Fleet Lift Truck demonstrates how they are now able to make repairs to fork lifts at the clients location. The company recently moved to their larger Machesney Park location and employs 14 people. This photo was taken for an upcoming article in Business Profile Magazine.

Happy mothers day

The Claussons were one of 40 families who stopped by a First Free to get a photo with their favorite mom. They also had drawings for the best/worst kid actions. To think there are some kids in high school that let their mom make their bed for them. The young mans excuse was that it was just going to get messed up the next night anyway. You just got to appreciate mom. You can find the images in facebook or myspace.

Gotta look cool

Kids will always act different when faced with dressing up for a wedding. The flower girl today would only put on her dress over her jeans and shirt. Crystals little guy on the other hand knew he looked cool and had to show off his sunglasses with his tux. Getting a kiss at the same time, now that's a different story.

Wedding day grudge

Donnita and Ed watched the rain come and go on their wedding day. So when they got out of the ceremony and realized it might be possible to do outside photo, they needed a pretty place with concrete paths. We went downtown behind the library under the gazebo. But also while down there stopped by this little alley way looking for good light. Donnita was one of the first to encourage me to use textures.

Little slugger

Maggie and Christo have been a little slower than most to pick out wedding photos. So when they finally decided years later, they brought their son in. It was much better than the photo they did at day care and an excuse to wear the shirt that cost too much to risk to Kool-Aid.

Almost hitched

Kim asked if I could come out to the house to do Rob and her engagement session. So I asked, what does your back yard look like. "It's 30 acres with horses," was the reply. Rob's grandfather had started Hansons Hideaway Ranch many decades ago. There they have an RV park, swimming pond and boarding services. It was fun to see them scamper through creek beds like they were kids again as we looked for photo ops.

Acting shy

Sara and I met in college at Eastern Illinois University in 1996. We both went to the InterVarsity group there and Saturday got together with 8 other couples, half of which married someone else they met while at EIU. I did a little more "spray and pray" with the photos today and didn't really have a game plan. Learning more and more how to turn off the flash and find good light. Jen and Blairs daughter Jasminda spent a good amount of time hanging out with mom and dad while the rest of the kids played with blocks, fighting over cars, or running the hall. She was sitting on Dads lap with the window behind her which gave a nice wrap around look.

Drawing your eye in

Jami and Travis started out Friday with almost a repeat of 2 years ago. Travises best man Steve married Hillary in October 2005. I started the day at moms house, went to Allerton Park for them to see each other for the first time, then off to the ceremony. This time nobody misplaced the ring. More and more as cameras get better, as a professional you need to differentiate your work. I found this looking through the digital wedding forum, an online community specifically for photographers.

Which one is Benny

Emily wanted to bring extra stuffed animals to put in with Benjamin. But he didn't always cooperate and doesn't like them on top of himself. Thankfully his parents were extremely cooperative and were stretched out like football players reaching to put the ball in the end zone, but at the same time trying to stay out of the shot.

As the bride enters

They always talk about the first look on the day of the wedding. For some they plan to meet in private a couple hours before the ceremony. For others it's at the ceremony. As the doors open at Church by the Side of the Road, you can see Annette, but not clearly as it still gives a little mystery of what's to come. The traditions of not seeing the bride dates back to middle eastern cultures where the bride and groom had no idea what each other looked like because they were entering an arranged marriage. Not the case with Al and Annette. even the maid of honor pointed out how these two acted like teenagers.

Bringing rates down

Sara and I still have our condo in Champaign. When we first married we figured it would be better to buy 2 condos for the same price of a single family home and rent the other. Earlier this year rates hit a 10 year low and we dropped 2 points off our mortgage. Don our loan officer, mentioned that he was overdue for a newer photo. From that conversation I took them all, let them pick their favorites and blended them together.

What is good for the body

The Junior League of Rockford held a kids in the kitchen open house at Discovery Center Museum Megan and Adam knew more than most where the food went. It helps that their mom is a registered dietitian.

Almost ready to wed, almost time for baseball

Jeff & Alissa enjoy the flex time that their jobs give them. If it was thought out in advance maybe I would have made it to Wrigley field with them this week. Their big day is coming at the end of May.

Finally some good pictures

Ben and Crystal kept getting excited to see their pictures. They haven't had time to decorate their new house and this will help them do it. They were willing to try anything. At first I didn't know if I'd like Ben with the chair because of the patterns on his shirt, but I had to try it cause I just found it on Craigs List. After a couple of Crystal alone, Ben jumped in too. It ended being one of my favorites of the 2 of them.

A big batch of new photographers

The Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI), the largest association of its kind, just held their annual convention in Vegas. Two very scary things were noted by one of the key note speakers, David Jay about the photographic industry. First, attendance was down. Where they would have standing room only in years past there were plenty of empty seats. Second, when asked in a wedding workshop how many of the attendees weren't in photography one year ago, half the attendees raised their hands. Gary Fong, a long time noted speaker noted this on his blog. This was one of the 10 new photographers listed in the phone book with a display ad who showed up in my home town.

Comp card ready

Megan says her favorite thing to do is have the happy parts. She's been in several school plays and has expanded her acting ambitions. Just recently she auditioned for Nickelodeon and was in the top 6 of 200 that entered. So it's off to modeling and acting classes she goes. This was one of several looks we did for Megan.

Sign makers need pictures too

Steve from Reynolds Media Group had tried to get photos of the signs himself. But found they were too far away or ineffective. I spent about an hour looking for good angles and talking with the sign holders. They were very helpful in standing where I asked them to. They enjoyed being outside so much they even asked if I had other signs to be held. The first is what Steve came up with. The second shows relationship to the store. The green arrows I had to wait for. The third shows a window sign along with the effectiveness of them.

Remembering the 80's

Joe and Lindsay had all kinds of crazy suggestions for their session. This one they debated on. It seemed that they had lots of pictures around the house from decades ago that had this pose. Yes Olan Mills used it often. I had to laugh because there was an email forward a month ago that had all kinds of bad fashion and photos from years ago. But then again they will laugh at what we did 30 years from now.

Finishing off the Links

This was one of those projects that you can take on in the middle of winter when nobody gets married and have a little fun with it.

Letting personalities show

Al and Annette were the first couple to see my new place. It was wonderful not to have to stick a light in a spot and not be able to move it. The new place is a little over 2 times the size of the old. Every once in a while I ask off handed questions like what is most important to you. Als answer was that we like the personality of the photographer. Kind of makes you feel good to here that.

Keeping boxes on hand

Terry Young president of Midwest Packaging and Container stands along side Jim Wallar the general manager, and Fritz Oldenburg production manager at their facility on North Forest Hills Road. They make boxes in all shapes and sizes and employ approximately 65 workers. This photo was done with only available light. Finding good light was one of the things emphasized at the workshop I went to last week. The brighter bulbs in the main corridor were enough to give them some good direction of light. You can read more about Midwest in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.


The Missing Links came in for a new photo of the band together. They have been playing in Rockford since the 60's and include playlists from Elvin Bishop, Amazing Rythmn Aces and Chubby Checker to name a few. They changed outfits, they played some of their favorites, and all in all just had a good time.

Peeking in on their dance

Ben & Kourtney married Saturday at Kourtneys home church, the Cathedral of St Raymond in Joliet. Afterwards they went to the Haley Mansion for the reception. We were helped throughout the day by Simply Perfect by Melissa, a very refreshing change from the "wedding coordinators" I had seen in Champaign. (I say that only because I haven't seen many if any in Rockford.) The night was filled with memories and toasts and stories of sisters using blow up mattresses in their tiny shared studio apartment. This photo was taken during the first dance, and was not your usual angle. It is using an establishing shot to show what is to come. The swan planter tells you this is a place of beauty and the antique sconces tell you that while this is an addition to the mansion, it hasn't lost it's aged charm. I got the idea after going to a workshop with Bob Davis who told us to think outside the box.

Being great roll models

Getting married is more than about being in love. It's about being supportive of each other. In her spare time Mary works with Pure Fashion. It's an organization that gained attention when an 11 year old girl complained to Nordstrom that the jeans in the store did not fit her correctly. It's about being pretty not provocative. You could see from how she and Paul interact and carry themselves that the mentoring she gives to teenage girls was something they both took to heart.

Hip hop dance

I got to go to Wheaton High School for another dance competition. Sometimes it was to fun see what the girls would choose to dance to. Some chose new songs, some songs that were older then they were. Grayslake North had cassette tape boom boxes on their shirts. I doubt any of them have ever box listened to a cassette tape let alone purchase one.

Laughing and smiling

Martin and Sara will marry later this year in June. Like many they started their session with a typical attempt at smiling. I told them to find the cutest person in the room to look at and they both look at each other. Then the real smiles come out. Sometimes it's with laughter, sometimes it's a little overstated, but mostly it's with personality.

Letting them interact

Rick and Michelle had a small wedding in a little chapel in Sycamore. They only wanted immediate family there but did end up with a few extra. It lended itself to feel more like the intimate get togethers you see at rehearsal dinner instead of a room full of 300 where half are "dates" of coworkers. The dance floor wasn't a requirement as Rick doesn't think of himself as a good dancer. They did dance for about a minute as this shot was caught of Michelle reacting to something Rick said. It was taken with no flash, only lit by the ambient lights of the room in an effort to be less obtrusive.

Smiling in the morning

Dan and Andrea will marry next September. Dan mentioned that he's usually not a smiler at 9 in the morning, but we made it through it. We started with a standard church directory blue background. Then we tried a tan similar to Andreas and a darker brown similar to Dans. There was just something I didn't like about it at first. Dan started to get lost in the background. We put the card back into the camera, went into the studio room and switched them around. Now it's a great color keyed photo that looks great.

The half time dance

Saturday I spent the day at Lake Park High School. They invited over 60 teams to come and compete with what they would perform for their schools basketball game. The choreography and precision of these girls was definitely better than what they would do in high school.

Ready to play they think

Megan and Adam got snow pants from their Meme for Christmas. Megan knew what they were from the other kids at school and Adam was just excited, but not sure why. They love to go outside when it's nice out, but Adam didn't like it when he realized the snow was up to his knee. I picked him up and we watched megan make snow angels. It was time for Adam to try and his sister was willing to help. We were outside for all of 8 minutes.

Everybody loves hugs

Ryan and his best man have had a bond ever since junior high. But it wasn't hard to see that when they gave each other a hug that all other guys wanted to jump in. At 6ft 5 and as a EIU offensive lineman, he can be tough. But today he was as pleasant as an oversized teddy bear.

One happy groom

Senneca gives the thumbs up to his friends Saturday as he and Chantelle dance together for the first time. Sen is one of the happiest grooms I saw this year. Chantelles dad had worried that all the good men were taken, but you could see that these two were meant for each other.

A pause before coming out

Lauren relaxes with her matron of honor just before the ceremony. Just happening to see her framed so well by the partition walls and the backdrop of the coffee bar, and lit so well by a small window reminds me of the big photojournalist who you wonder if it was real or staged. Lauren and Andrew met just over a year ago. But she had been journaling and praying about who she might meet and marry long before that. Just before she and Bill her dad walked in they played a montage of her readings.

Basketball season

Ken Rock Community Center hosted 200 youth for their winter leagues. Tuesday was canceled due to weather and Wednesday due to too many illnesses. But we finally caught up with them and will reschedule for the other nights.

Lounging around

Peggy had won a silent auction at the Crusader Clinic Silent action. They wanted something more relaxed feeling. They were pretty fun and easy to work with and Summer had even had national photo work from when she lived in Bloomington for State Farm.

Can I Santa, Can I

Nathan was one of about 20 kids to come to an Army Christmas party Sunday at Briggs Mansion. All of them got their picture on Santas lap and then he was going to pass them out. Looking also for something that wouldn't be your traditional Santa photo, I scouted the room. Some looked too old - just wouldn't fit. Some were too young - they had just cried moments earlier at the red man . And then there was Nathan standing right up front. I handed him a present about the right size and said to look at Santa with your most innocent look. It was all his parents could do to keep from laughing and knowing that if that wasn't supposed to be his present, we better find out which one was.

Remembering lifes lessons

Some toasts are short and sweet and to the point. Others are filled with stories some might rather forget. Dad can still remember the first time Stephanie got behind the wheel of a stick shift when she was first learning how to drive. The back and forth would be memorable for anyone. But all kidding aside you could see the care that he had and the pride he showed to see Stephanie and Neil get married.

New parents

Tanisha brought her family in for an new family portrait with the newest member. Sometimes Christine would be quiet with dad, but mostly she was quiet with mom. Calvin also showed himself to be a good big brother.

Tickles and giggles

The Myers got together over the summer. And like little kids, the still like to goof off together. There's no telling who caused the most trouble growing up, which always seems to be a topic of discussion at every family reunion.

Two of a kind

Mothers of twins love to dress them alike. Other photographers I've heard also say it's difficult to not photograph them together. The last time I saw them they laid there and held hands. This time they've learned to crawl away and make faces back at the audience of helpers.

A man with a mic

Eli and Jen married today in Beloit. During the reception, he managed to take a hold of the mic several times. Once to thank every one for coming, once to introduce his friend on drums when they had a band, and once when his mom requested anything by the Beatles. Hey Jude never sounded so good.

Family get togethers at Thanksgiving

One of the first complaints I hear of why familys can't do a portrait is because they aren't all in the same place at the same time. Renee called me and asked if they could do it as they would all be available the day after Thanksgiving. In all there were 17 and several different family groups.Yes we did fit into the 11 foot wide room. It will be nice to get a larger place next year.

Beach bum romance

Not too many get to marry their high school sweet heart. And even fewer get to pair up with the one they met at summer camp. But that is where the story started for Nick and Karla. They were both in high school when their familys were both on vacation to Panama City Beach. They exchanged emails and kept in touch. Karla finally moved down to Louisville Kentucky (pronounced Loulvile) knowing that Nick was the one for her. They will marry next June.

Spiral engineering

Dennis and Lynn Schultz along with Mark and Cecelia Buckner (not pictured) stand under a recent job they completed at AMC Manufacturing. The exhaust system takes the fumes away from the machinery to help with ventilation. They are the owners of Rockford Heating and Air Conditioning where they have been located on Magnolia street since 1991. They do residential and commercial work and will be featured in the next issue of Business Profile.

Quality time in a hot tub

The Quality Inn and Suites of Rockford was looking to update their brochures and to fun some ads in Business Profile. They wanted to feature thier meeting room, breakfast bar, lobby, fitness center, hut tub suites, and pool.

Creating a mood

Normally St Peters is rather light inside because of all the windows. But later in the year on an overcast day, I felt happy to know that the new Canon 40D is rated to look good at 3200 iso. This was one of the first times I had used Pocket Wizard radio slaves in a church as it creates a nice silhouette.

Just before the family gets larger

Nikki and Bill will soon give their daughter away in marriage. But before they do that they knew they wanted keep one more photo of them together. The next time they do this they know they will add husbands and grand kids to the group.

Your favorite Greek sweetheart

Ken was is a member of the fraternity across from the AST's at Beloit College. They hadn't had a sweetheart for the group in several years. So this year they couldn't narrow it down and decided on 2.

See us on the court

Athletes like to have a tough side. Football players are the worst. There wasn't a single smile in the whole bunch. So the girls at Stillman valley are no different. Almost as if they are sending out a warning to their opponent.

What's old is made new again

I spent the day on Monday in Bloomington working with Jackie at Studio J Photography. This time it was looking at glamour Hollywood lighting from the 30's and 40's.

Bringing light in from above

I spent the day on Sunday in Bloomington working with Jackie at Studio J Photography. It was incredibly overcast, but Jackie was still bound and determined to show us how to find and direct light to the subject. She is sponsored by Millers Lab and part of the PPA Super Monday program. We just happened to get 2 days for the price of one.

Making each other happy

It is often said that opposites attract. Amy is a very outgoing young lady while Kyle is more subdued. It's always interesting to try to find the right photo for this blog. Sometimes it's the favorite that I took because it was a cool pose. But in this case it's watching Amy laugh at the subtle things that Kyle has said during the first dance that brings out the magic of the two of them.

Sprucing up for fall

Tylers Landscaping called me after they did some patio planters at the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. They had a function coming up and wanted to spruce up the front. There in lies the problem of how do you show the best work of the landscape designer to go with the spacial needs of the place. A photo of the building from the street would have made the detail get lost. A telephoto portrait of the vase would have lost it's spacial relationship. The solution was to use a 8mm fish eye about 1 foot away from the planter. Now you can see the gords and the relationship to the building it compliments.

Kissing and laughing

Theresa warned me that they might have a little PDA and that they'd be kissing each other even more on the day of the wedding. I told Adam to kiss her anywhere but the most obvious. You can tell they were enjoying themselves. We took this in the middle of Sinnisippi park where they are fixing the lagoon. .

Strike time

Tuesday night we went to Don Carter Lanes and did the photos for the youth league teams. Some kids forgot to wear their league shirts and others dressed to match. Some of the kids leaned forward and almost looked in pain to hold up their 6 pound ball. Who would have thought that American Girl would have bowling outfits.

Sinnisippi Sunsets

Stephanie and Jason knew they wanted to come to Sinnisippi for their engagement session and also on the wedding day. We joked about how many limos are there every Saturday and how my car can pretty much drive its self from Sinnisippi to Giovonnis, Cliffbreakers, Clocktower, or any one of the other major banquet centers.The trick is to make it look better than you'd expect. They were facing south and the sun was nowhere near this low in the sky, but instead was superimposed from a shoot 3 years ago.

Lounging in the leaves

Josh and Kari have been my favorite bridal show success story. I give out a door prize winner a certificate for an engagement session or to up their album page credit on their wedding day. It seems the ones who have won in the past either had a photographer already, or don't call back. I had sat down with them just the week before the show. When I found out they won, I said Hey they will be fun to work with.


Charles Lewis who's portraits start at $500 for an 8x10 always commented that Expression Sells Photographs. If you recognize the person, and it's not out of focus, 90% percent of the time you will like the photo if they appear to be in a happy mood. Vanessa and Andrew were definitely in a happy mood. They found a great day to go to the park and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.

Taking over the playground

Sarah and Weston stopped by the park in Beloit on the way to their reception. The party was very relaxed and easy going and as Mike said knew how to have a good time.

Lovin and squeezin

Michelle was one of the few brides I've seen in 9 years who didn't show up at the church in plenty of time to take 100 formal photos before the ceremony. Not with parents, bridesmaids, or even herself. This might scare some wedding photographers who look and say we've got a ton to do after the ceremony, but to her it almost didn't seem necessary. To watch Rob with a nervous look before the wedding, you knew he also wasn't coming out of his shell. But after the wedding they got together with their close knit group of friends and their interaction together showed the true bonds of friendship.

Fun with faces

Jessica is the first to let you know that a frilly wedding dress is not her normal style. But today she married Brian and along with that is the formal attire. After the wedding you could really see the relaxation in each of their faces. Before you could see the nervousness. You could really see that they enjoy each others company, and have their own way of showing it.

Eying someone elses fish

When Sara and I went out to Philly, there was a guy in front of Independence hall with a very sophisticated tripod and a point and shoot with a little screw on fish eye lens. I ordered mine from Russia the next day. No you are not imagining things. Trees do not grow at weird angles, but Danielle and Malt were willing to be my guinea pigs with this new lens.

Those big blue eyes

Riley has been in front of my camera more than once, but this is the first time without all the cousins, aunts and uncles around. Mom wanted to see him in the buff. At first he almost looks embarrassed and hiding. He warmed up and smiled great though.

Finding love isn't just a young persons game

Dennis and Shirley came together to proclaim their vows in a little church at Midway Village. The had both been widows after many years of marriage, and even Pastor Mike who was performing his first wedding mentioned that giving advise to the 79 year old couple in premarital counseling with that many years behind them seemed like an ominous task.

Have I got a story to tell you

Ana Sofia talks on the phone to one of her bridesmaids downstairs in the lobby while trying to find out what has happened with the flowers. This wedding was at the Marriott in Lincolnshire and I co-shot it with Gilbert Boucher (the one not eating mac and cheese) who also works as a photojournalist with the Daily Harold. Today I learned to use my motor drive, and to look to see things differently. There was definitely more of an emphasis on storytelling and not on every picture having a pasted on smile.

Super volunteer

Linda Niemiec at Crusader Clinic asked me several weeks ago if I would be willing to shoot one of her Spirit of Caring nominees. Dick Rundquist is a man that will never stay idle. His list of involvements over the years have extended to the boards of directors for Rockford Schools, Midway Village, Erlander Museum, Rockford College, and Swedish American, just to name a few. "Inside his strong Swedish self, is the hard working gentleman who does absolutely nothing for the honor of the job, but instead for its need," wrote Gordon Eggers who nominated Dick. The banquet will be next Friday at Giovonni"s.

Getting a new look

Todd at Shelter Care ministries has always asked me to take photos of the different fund raising events. Tonight included a silent auction, a jazz quartet a kids corner and Mr Mustache. Bruce Lewis has been entertaining kids and adults since the 70's and 80's when he had his own tv show. This addition made for a fun night.

Snuggling in the yard

To Kristin the home was more than just a place to come at night. They live in a cute little brick house on a historic part of Rockford. It's also where Fred proposed marriage. The first photos started on the front steps. Then we wondered around the yard looking for photos that would fit their outfits and personality. This was a fun session because it reminded me of the way Fuzzy would do things. Yes he has a studio, but will do all the photos for a senior at their home. He'll go to their closet and choose outfits to match in areas of their home and yard nobody would have thought would be picturesque.

The oldest neighborhood in Philly

Sara and I got to spend a week in a historic bed and breakfast in historic Philadelphia. She had a conference for the American Dietetic Association. (McDonalds is her job security.) We went to see the Liberty Bell on a day with 10,000 other people, but also made it to Elfreths Alley. It dates back to 1702. Most of the homes are about 15ft wide and were homes of tradesmen and firemen over the years. Today it is also part of the national park service.

New trends for wedding invites

Derek and Kari are the third couple who asked for save the date magnets for weddings next year. I had never heard of such a thing before this summer. It's interesting how trends go. These are now sent out prior to your traditional invitation and there is even etiquette rules to follow with your save the dates.

The 2 second kiss and 6 second departure

Andy and Joanna had one of the more colorful weddings imaginable. You could see that they had fun putting it together. This was made very evident in Jo's sisters speech when she thanked her for choosing theater over medicine. This ability to follow her passion made it easier on the younger sister to tell the parents she wanted to study dance. Not much about their ceremony could be considered predictable. From the ministers delivery that sounded like she herself had spent time on stage to the quick escape out of the garden. Andy said they like to go running together, so why not start their married life off doing something they enjoy together.

Daddys little angel

Kaleen is the only daughter in a house full of 5 brothers. But it wasn't just because she was the only girl that she got to be called angel. In fact there were times that she took moms bows out of her hair. Just before dad took her to the dance floor he relayed to the guests how important it was to have Christ there in your life. Life might be easy now but kids can make it difficult. About the time she was born, there were SIDS scares constantly on the news, and Kaleen would stop breathing when she slept. The doctors told her parents to watch her constantly every time she slept for that 3 month period. They knew that God had provided a guardian angel to help watch over her. As Kaleen and dad danced, Kaleens nieces Ellie and Libby sat on the floor holding onto each other and watching them dance. The symbolism and the bond showed more symbolism than I can sum up in a couple words.

Downloading your best man speech

It seems you can find about anything on the internet these days. And while colleges are cracking down hard on student plagiarism, Nick an Tiffanys best man Dan took it appon him self to take full advantage of the world wide web. The funniest parts included the lines about how it is best to change the names to match the true identities of those who are getting married.

Heading back to school to wed

Rachel and Jeremy were both students at Augustana and met through mutual friends. The first time he wanted to ask her out he got sick and she didn't think he was interested. The second time was the same day she planned to go out with another guy. After under grad they tried to go to grad school together, but she ended up in Purdue and he at ISU and both with lots of miles on the car. It was because of their relationship starting in college that they decided to go back to Ascension Chapel at the college to hold their wedding.

Wanting the traditional wedding

Amy and Kyle plan to get married in November. For a while they thought about seeing each other before the wedding, but then decided not to. They know that means they probably won't get to do outside photos so we set this one up for their engagement session.

Snuggling close

Dane and Grace wed on Sept.15th and with the help of Vic and Hose. I think I heard more couples call and ask about Sept 15 than I did 7/7/7.

Meaningful places on a meaningful day

Kari and Tim had spent many days playing at Rockford College. Tim played basketball and baseball, Kari softball and volleyball. We threw out crazy ideas like going to the movie theater with the group because that was the theme of the table decorations, maybe a little too crazy. Some couples just say ok you pick a park, and have no idea why or what to do next. As the got off the party bus, it almost felt like it hadn't been years since they graduated, but rather as comfortable as if they had come back home.

A wedding in the park

Mark and Quianna couldn't have picked a prettier day. They married Saturday by the stream in Sunstrand park. The first time I met Mark he was wearing his Harley jacket. It only seemed fitting that one of their favorite photos would be with their bike.

Better in the buff

Even came in with his parents Loan and Chuong whos wedding I did 3 years ago. He didn't like the photos with the family, in his second outfit or outside. Mom was ready to call it a day and I said what's the worst he can do is cry some more. Even loved it and smiled at us all.

Getting everyone together

Some wedding photographers park their tripod in the center aisle of the church and never move it. Susan was not looking for that kind of photographer. Instead I ended up on the ground and in the weeds to find the unusual spot. I think we did maybe 10 "aisle photos" but that was it. It ended being a very memorable and very fun day.

Dannys guys would rather catch frisbees than garters

I met Laura just over a year ago when she was a bridesmaid and sang at Erins wedding. She knew exactly how she wanted it planned out. We went to Baumann park in Cherry Valley for pictures by the gazebo. Not the closest one to the parking lot, but the one 1/4 mile away where they had gotten engaged. The frisbee was taken out of the assistant pastors office. These guys love ultimate frisbee and didn't mind playing in their tuxes.

Almost Newlyweds

I got a call a couple weeks ago from a daughter who saw me at a wedding that said her 79 year old mother was getting married. Shirley had met Dennis who was also widowed, and they both found love again. Neither one of them had had a big to do when they went around the first time, so they've planned a nice wedding in the little chapel at Midway Village and a full reception at Rockford Country Club for later this fall.

A stroll in the park

Travis was the best man for Steve two years ago. As they plan their wedding, they will go to Allerton State park near Champaign for pictures and to see each other before the ceremony Those who do find that they feel like they spent the entire day together sharing it instead of "playing hide and go seek" for the first half of the day and being rushed through the rest of it. This photo was taken at West side park in Champaign. Travises favorite part was that he didn't have to smile for this one.

12 days old

Xavier was born on the 17th and mom couldn't believe she waited this long to bring him in. His older sister Alexia had a special delivery portrait when she was 5. He also put on a suit and let his 15 month old sister kiss on him in the pictures. They looked great together.

Natural color key

Angela and Cory met me at Sinnisippi to do their engagement session. It was the first time that I had met either of them in person. She had seen me at her cousin Jennifers wedding and liked what she saw. They did great picking out matching outfits his in white with green stripes and hers in a green vneck. Here she's in front of a line of trees and he's in front of the water. The long compression lens and a nice breeze gives it that fashion look. They looked great together.

Ready to sell

Jeff Fink has spent most of his life on the floor. But most of the last year he spent waiting of the carpenters union to call, it's time to make a career change. Having just gone through the process of closing on his own house, Jeff has just finished up training with Whitehead realtors. Jeff really liked the package he was offered as a customer and thought that that is the way he would want to treat his customers.

Looking up

Jessica at Miller Berry was in desperate need to get a better looking group photo for their investment firms brochure. The last one showed Kurt standing head over heals behind the other staff. They wanted something a little unique and with that I showed her samples of about 20 other groups.

Fall means football season

It's never too young to start playing football. It's a great game and the coaches have given them a great amount of discipline.

Looking for our other friend?

Brooke & Jamie started out with the average size wedding party of 6 and 6. Only one of them decided she'd rather go into labor. Then about 8:30 they got a phone call with a picture attached saying 5lbs, 13oz. They would have to go to the hospital to find out the name.

Beware of the wedding crashers

Dani called to say she loved the wedding album, but couldn't figure out who these guys were. They told me this will look great on the grooms refrigerator. They told a bridesmaid that they new Steve from ISU. The only problem is he went to U of I. Some will go anywhere to find a party.

Playing with angles

Kari and Derek were downtown but on the wrong side of the river. We finally met up at the millennium fountain. At 6:30 the light looked gorgeous on the river. Once you have a safe shot then it is time to try something new some times it works sometimes not. I kind of like the angles from the windows downtown.

Home on the farm

Bryce got a his tractors from his uncle. I remember my dads toy tractors. There are those that are for play and those that are for display. Bryce will get a lot of use out of these.

Sharing a wedding date

Brooke grew up with 2 sets of parents - sort of. Her grandparents are just as close as mom and dad in their tight knit family. So when she and Max saw that the 18th fell on a Saturday it was easy to set the date. It was the same day her grandparents Bob and Sue married on over half a century earlier. It wasn't the smoothest wedding. We got rain on at Sinnisippi at 11am and we got rained on again at Sinnisippi at 4, but to hear the toasts from that evening, you knew that there was a special bond there.

Cardinal Sports day

It's been a couple years since I lived in Champaign and shot for schools. Stillman Valley had seen problems with big companies showing up late, and sending a different person every time. We gave them enough confidence that we would do it and finished the entire day 15 minutes ahead of schedule. The organization could not have been better executed.

Taking in a little R&R

This was Sara and I's first time out of town without kids in a long time. It was also my first 24 hour period without touching a computer. We spent the day in Milwaukee walking downtown and visiting the Milwaukee Art Museum. I think my favorites were the classic oil on canvas portraits. It is amazing how the masters handled light and shadows and gave me inspiration.

Manzullo looking for the 23mpg Hummer

Shahram Tolonchian leads Rep Don Manzullo on a facility tour of Gates Corporation. The factory employs 180 people on 3 shifts manufacturing rubber and hydraulic parts. They have devised a way to put a hydraulic drive train into a heavy truck and get a 50-70% increase in fuel economy. Unlike battery powered cars, the technology doesn't need to be reinvented, and their is no question of what do we do with a 4 year old car battery. Gates is in the next step of taking they concept vehicle to the next level.

Steve and the 2 most recognized ladies in Rockford

Steve and Dani planned an outdoor wedding on the banks of the Rock River just outside the Burpee Museum. It made it very nice for the guests because after the wedding, they could walk around and look at the exhibits. Afterwards they went to Sinnissippi for photos. It's almost such a tradition to see 20 limos in the parking lot there on a Saturday, that some couples can't imagine not going there for photos.

A slice of cake & a slice of life

Bill & Chelsea enjoyed many of the wedding traditions, the cake being one of them. The origins of the tradition of the wedding cake date back to medieval times, when each guest at a wedding was supposed to bring a small cake, the cakes would be stacked on the table in levels and layers. If the bride and groom were able to kiss over the top of the stack it was considered good luck. These cake stacks would eventually merge into one cake and evolve into the modern wedding cake. (Taken from Wikipedia.)

Missionary Kid marries in dads former church

Josh and Elise wanted a small wedding. The place to hold it was very obvious from the start. The interesting thing is how they ended up there. Joshes parents came from Germany in the 70's as missionaries to Itasta. For many years the services were done in German and to this day some of the churches Bible studies are still in German.

Looking for a photographer at your friends wedding

I first met Laura at her friend Erins wedding. Yes I do have a habit of looking for single engagement rings on young women. She said that it was a lot of fun and not stiff or boring to have me do the photos then. I can't recall if that was after they went scattered in the field or after hanging on the monkey bars that she said that. When I was in Champaign I worked for a studio that booked 200 weddings a year. One of the other photographers would literally ask people to look a little happier. I hope I never turn into that guy.

Signs of Redbird love

Anna and Chris met at ISU at a Red Rage party after a football game. With dad being the alumni association board, it was easy to see why the school has been so much a part of their life. Reggie was a surprise to everyone. It brought back memories especially for Chris who wore the mascot costume for appearances his Junior and Senior year

Planning their wedding and going to a wedding

Sarah knew that there were only so many times they'd be coming back to Rockford. Today was one of them and it's to stand up in a friends wedding. This was one of those poses that they felt uncomfortable in but they both loved the best.

Photography with a friend

Trish and Tom came to me by way of her cousin Stacey and Chris who got married 3 years earlier. As it was, I had a morning family portrait and needed some help. Mike has been shooting with me for a while now and started their day. They were both surprised to see each other as the three of them have been good friends for quite a while.

Seeing colors vividly

Spencer and Rachel married in the formal gardens of Khelm arboretum. There are so many flowers and beautiful places like here in front of the purple cone flowers. The photo on the right is the original jpeg which is almost completely blown out and should have been deleted.
The left is from the raw conversion. The internet cannot do this photo justice. The skin tones on Rachel are the most beautiful up close I've ever seen. Raw is not an easy concept to tackle, but this is one that makes it worth while.

Love in each others eyes

Dennis & Patrice chose to have a small wedding in June, but still wanted something more professional looking and did a studio session today. I always do a very traditional look, but at the same time ask them to find someone cuter that me to look at. It brings out expressions for each other.

Playing all angles

Aaron and Stefanie find themselves in wedding planning marathons. They just moved to Iowa but still plan to marry in Rockford where family is. Today they did their engagement session in Sinnisippi park followed by trips to florists and bakers.

A park like setting

Bill and Chelsea look like they are off in a garden somewhere. Truth be told they are 15 feet from the street getting honked at, and my mailbox has been replaced by more flowers. They are a couple weeks away from being married.

Relaxing in the park

Dave and Kristi were on their way to riverfront park when the barricades for Beloit Riverfest told them otherwise. There is a couple neat fountains and bridges there, but we couldn't get in that far. Where we stopped at was just north of there and while not the same scenery we were originally looking for, it turned out to be a beautiful day.

The great outdoors

Katie and Eric found it easy to pick how to do their engagement session. They just narrowed it down to 2 parks. They've spent many afternoons walking the trails in Janesville, the city of parks.

Close together

Eli and Jen will marry next November. Their friends have a choice of left over Thanksgiving turkey or dinner at Giovonis. You could guess what most will choose. Most couples start with a 50th anniversary look and then change it up from there. The closer couple is, and the more they hug and snuggle, the warmer the smiles.

Holding on to culture and tradition

When I lived in Champaign, in 5 years I saw maybe 2 non Caucasian weddings. Since I've moved to Rockford I've had at least 15 languages spoken by the parents of the couple. Russians usually marry on Sunday with the traditional worship service followed by a wedding service. Both combined for over 2 hours.

Time for each other

They say that you will always remember the first time you see each other on the wedding day. But nobody said that had to be with 300 other eyes on you. Keith and Kim wanted to do all their photos before the ceremony, and arranged in advance to have a little private time together.

Feeling relaxed

Couples have said that they feel like they are in a pretzel when I tell them to snuggle up together. But once they see them, they see what I see. This was Stephanies favorite because of it's natural look. Neil and her are always teasing each other about something.

We love EIU football

Ryan plays offensive line at Eastern. Both he and Jamie went there as education majors. Jamie finished in May and is having fun with interviewing, something Ryan will get to experience after student teaching. They plan to marry right after fall semester ends so that Ryan can come back to Rockford area.

School days sweethearts

Susan and Brent met each other on a summer missions trip. They went to Kentucky together with First Free Church. Now they've moved to Florida, but they will come back to Illinois for the wedding later in September.

Portraits in a familiar place

Mike and Shannon will marry later this year. Like many they wanted somewhere pretty for pictures, and I said where is somewhere special. We ended up in Mikes parents back yard.

Having a little fun

Zack & Kelly stopped outside of the church to sit by the flowers. They were pretty excited right now as they had only been married less than an hour and this was a time to unwind.Watching Zack interact with Kelly was almost like watching a good Jim Carry impersonator. You could tell they were enjoying their time together.

Almost ready

Grace and Dane took plenty of time to decide what to wear for their engagements. I give people a basic primmer of not stripes, or polka dots or shirts with words. They did great with their outfits, but admitted it's easier to pick out a white dress and a black tux for the wedding.

Take me out to the ball game

Steve and Dani couldn't figure out where to do their engagement session. As huge ball fans I suggested we go to the park. They had a blast cheering like fans, getting struck out, and making excuses in the dugout for walking 6 straight. They'll be married in August. You can see their engagement show here.

Enjoying each others company

Sunday evening I stopped by with Becky and family for a new family portrait. The problem arises because she keeps having more grandchildren. The youngest is 4 weeks old. They've worked hard to have a beautiful back yard and it shows. The lot was almost completely barren 2 years ago when they bought the home.

Campfires with the guys

Toasts can be one of the most memorable parts of the evening. Lots of crying, lots of laughter, and sometimes some surprises. Years earlier Scott had decided it would be ok to stir up the fire with a broom. It's almost as if best men go out of their way to come up with great stories of the great times together.

Sharing the same expression

Edward and Donnita only have a couple weeks left before the Marines bring him back to active duty. So they're making as many wedding plans as they can now. We went down to the river walk for their engagement session. This is as much smile as a marine can give. It reminded me of how high school football players would smile for their senior portrait. For that reason Donnita gave me several different expressions. With a little Photoshop look added it gives them a great look.

Hey Culligan Man

Perry Salvadorini, one of the supervisors at Rock Valley Culligan, Poses outside their building with a small fleet of trucks. The company has 38 employees and Perrys job is not limited to just bottles and salt which is what most people think of with the Culligan man. Perry gets to spend time also doing engineering consulting projects both in Rockford and in neighboring states. You can read more about Rock Valley Culligan in the next issue of Business Profile magazine.

Lots of little leaguers

Mike, Vic, and I spent 5 hours with 500 players for their league memory mate photos. To keep this many kids organized is quite a task in and of itself, but we'll be able to get them back in about 3 weeks as promised. The league is coordinated by Kenrock Community Center.

Bright and shinny

Josh and Elise plan to marry later this summer in Itasca. They figured it was easiest to do it in the summer and then finish their last year at NIU than to plan it for later in the fall. Their favorite was out in the middle of a field of tall grass. Yes they looked at me kind of puzzled when I suggested it, but it does make for a nice setting.

Friendliness sells homes

Most realtors get their photos updated every 10 years "whether they need to or not." So when Donna Butterfield called me again after 19 months it kind of surprised me. As a realtor at Whitehead, she was named "Rising Star of 2006" and had more closings than any other first year realtor in the companies history. Not bad considering that she's only lived in Rockford a couple years, and many realtors work by referral. It's that she's friendly, personable, and listens.

Creating a mood in the mansion

Chris and Shannon were looking for someplace memorable for their reception. As fate would have it, they couldn't have come across a better place. Briggs Mansion recently opened up after undergoing more than a year of detailed renovation. It was built by newspaper man CC Briggs in 1863 and sits across from Swedish American Hospital. For the Buetsch family it was also a coming home. Chris's family lived in the back servants quarters for well over a decade and used the front part for apartments. With 12 foot ceilings and 6 marble fireplaces, this Italianate is full of charm.

Sunny days in the garden

Katie and Joe couldn't get into the church for photos because it was Sunday and regular services were going on. So they agreed to find some where else for their first time together. (And yes they did kiss before the ceremony when nobody was looking.) It was such a warm and sunny day that the girls felt like laying out and tanning. Yes, it was their idea to lay in the grass. These are the kind of impromptu things that really bring out the personality of the party. They met at Rotary Gardens in Janesville and married at Northeast Christian Church. The Reception was at the Clocktower with Toad Soup playing 60's hits all night long.

How will the other see things?

Jill and Malt got to play a party game I've never seen at a wedding. They were put back to back and told to answer by show of shoes the MC's questions. They both admitted Malt was a better driver, and that Jill was a better cook. But they also said that each was very loving and willing to forgive the other first.

Tucker and his smile

Dave and Kristi came for their engagement session. It seems as though it's an afterthought that they tell me the pouch is in the car. Tucker as most pups gets excited at the new place. After he calms down then it's time for a little fun. AR AR AR AR AR!!! Instantly he turns his head and the others start laughing at my call. In the end everyone looks good.

Men and women both love diamonds

Max and Brooke originally wanted to go to the ball park for their engagement session. But being as tonight was the River Hawks home opener, that was going to be out of the question.

Rain can't keep us from smiling

We had talked about doing engagements today and Tuesday Rob called and said there was a slight chance of rain. I'm not one to let a slight chance of anything stop that many days in advance so we kept it until we heard otherwise today. We just made sure the wind was blowing the right way for Michelles hair and everything went well until we got jinked. They sat down and sprinkles and just stayed as it poured. Kids started running for cover, but not these two.

Looking for Press Credentials

Tom came back to Rockford for the summer, and while in town decided to get an internship. He's a journalism student at University of Missouri at Columbia, one of the best J-Schools in the country. Tom will spend time gathering feature stories at the Rock River Times. Building up a portfolio of clips is essential to finding a job after graduation. And while traditional newspaper subscriptions are down, the need for good content will never go away. Hence the move to so many online news sources.

Finding the perfect outdoor location

Travis and Sara definitely have a love for the outdoors. Only finding the perfect spot was a little tougher than normal. We started by the Millennium Fountain which wasn't on. Traveled past a prom date swamped gazebo and also stopped by 2 places in Sinnisippi. Here they were out on the boat dock of the river with Jefferson bridge behind. It was probably one of the only times on a wedding day they could be alone.

They married at First Lutheran Church downtown and from there took a Fantasy Limo ride to CliffBreakers. Sound Pros MC'd the party that went way past dark.

Just being themselves

Andy and Joanna had an incredibly full day today. Joanna will cross stage in the afternoon in Madison and for that reason Andy said can we do this early in the morning. Then by Monday Joanna will go out west to work in the costume department of an opera house. I start every couple off with the 50th anniversary look, of which I could tell they were getting a little board with. So I said as the thespian types, do you have a pose for me. Needless to say I shot 2'xs as many photos as normal and had fun doing it.

The issue that didn't publish

Rockford Life was here for 5 issues. The last time Rockford had an independent lifestyle magazine was almost 10 years ago. In its short run, I had 4 cover shots with them. The feature photo about the Sirens was taken at a game last year. (Not by me, but by the girls father. I was asked to submit a disk with several choices on it and assumed it was.) When I first met the editor she had been working with a crafts magazine. I am not interested in sewing so to read her work I felt very positive about what she could highlight in the Rockford area. Unfortunately their wasn't enough advertising support to keep the publication going. This magazine will be missed.

Business Profile of Business Expansion

Kevin Rose is a busy guy. He has 2 showrooms full of berbers and plushes in Rockford and in Sycamore. On top of keeping the daily operations going, the store on Alpine is expanding. You can read more about Carpetlands business in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.

I just like to be held

Jennifer was one of the first brides to find me. And when she sent her brother to see me about his wedding, I was pretty sure she'd be coming back to see me when she started her family. Bryce is now a couple weeks old. He didn't sleep through his session like many kids do. And while he did good on his own, you could tell he just liked to be held.

Great friends great predictions

Mandi and Dawn have been friends for many years. And as someone who has heard many toasts at a wedding, there are things that you expect to hear. But Mandi wanted to add a little more and included a prediction about their kids. You can always depend on your friends to provide you with memorable moments.

Images are there for memories

Every once in a while, I sit down across from a bride and really get a sense of what is fun to them. That led me to Navy Pier in Chicago today for Kari and Tims engagement session. They got engaged at the top of the ferris wheel. And while it was windier that ever which shut the attraction down, that didn't stop us from just hanging out. Kari challenged me as she could spot good places for photos as fast as I could.

A Dream realized 20 years later

Jim Morris, for whom the movie The Rookie was based, was told his shoulder was beyond repair and that he would never pitch again. And after moving to Texas where football is king, it was just another in a line of potential limitations put in his way. His greatest influence, his grandpa, wouldn't let him stop his dreams. That was the attitude that he gave to the 8 students who came to play baseball for him. That year they had a winning season and the program saw 60 the next year. When he challenged the teens to go to state district playoffs they did and it was his time to pursue a dream. The event was held at CliffBreakers by the Rockford Rescue Mission as part of their Expressions of Hope banquet.

Furlow only lasts a couple weeks.

Dave Cheryl Owen and Ellie have spent the last year in Romania. In that time, they have begun to work with New Life Christian Center. Dave says that the projects are coming along faster than expected and that you can really see Gods work.

Inspiration and humor

Sam Glenn didn't always like getting up in front of people. At one point in his life he found himself homeless, volunteering with a church youth group, but staying in the corner. After being forced to speak he felt that was where he was supposed to go. Flat broke, he finally found someone who believed what he had to say and turn him around. Sam became convicted with the knowledge that our choices build momentum and move us in the direction of our dreams. He spoke to 250 at Teballa at the Spring Luncheon for Shelter Care Ministries


Favorite poses & favorite backgrounds

You never know what a senior is going to ask for. Because of that it's good to have plenty of variety in backgrounds on hand. Kristen brought in a different picture and said she didn't like the pose, but loved the leopard background. It makes it that much more fun when students can help plan their session.

Holding on to each other

These 2 definitely have a bond. Mom had said ever since they were born that they would hold hands together. They are the youngest of 6.

More engagement enhancements.

Rachel and Spencer will marry later this summer. They wanted something with purple in the background. So after Rachel drove all over the city and finding purple trees, we settled on Sinnisippi. But the blooms had gone in the 4 days. This shot puts her ring in sharp focus and the couple in the background out of focus. Spencer did very well with that. The lower res doesn't do this justice on the internet.

Engagement enhancements.

Travis and Sara are a couple weeks away from getting married. And with Travis's football schedule it makes it tough to get this done. They even moved the rehearsal to Thursday so that he could play Friday and then come back for the wedding Saturday. The photo on the left went through Photoshop about 8 more steps then the one on the right. It's what you get when you spend more than a couple hours on the PPA web site.

Three gas stations and a Walmart

Surprises for the newlyweds are the norm. I can still remember the 600 balloons in our apartment when we got back from our honeymoon. And in this case, because someone couldn't be trusted with the key, a few of the trusted wedding party members snuck out of the reception. They came back with T-P, whip cream, cherries, and what every couple wants to think about; the EPT. They were having too much fun decorating and accessorizing the room. Heidi and Jeff married at Riverview community church and took a limo ride with Classic to the Radisson where Sound Pros was the DJ.

Out to Graze

Tom and Trish brought their dogs for their engagement session. The did excellent in the studio, but once outside decided it was their time to play. They almost looked more like horses in the background with Tom and Trish enjoying the meadow.

Interactive Maps

I found this on Gregg DeKings blog, another photographer in Montgomery, so I just had to share it here also. This cool little tool makes a map of your wedding day and it can include your church, reception hall, restaurants and lodging.You have to check it out, . If you want to see what a sample map looks like check it out.. If you decide to use this free service let me know so I can look you up.

The Seniors are starting to call

Krystle is a junior at Belvidere. When we talked, I asked her to bring in pose ideas she liked. This was one of them. After the inside session we went down by the river. It was a blast for the entire time.

Receptions in a Familiar Place

Eric and Anne didn't have a guest list of 400. Instead they chose to have a smaller intimate evening in his grandparents back yard. This image was taken with the assistance of Justin his cousin (you can see his wedding further down) holding the reflector just as the sun began to set. To me I took a little more time with the timing of the lighting because it was the familys home. Somehow it makes the place where the image was taken that much more special.

Letting Couples Enjoy Each Other

I love to see people laugh in photos. The expression show that people are enjoying their time together and their time with me. Usually people have a couple of different smiles. Their "picture" smile. This usually was formed at a young age while saying cheese and hasn't changed much. The second is usually more genuine, and filled with expression. The third is a mix of both. Melissa is just starting to think about wedding planning for next June. In a way it feels like a long ways away, but at the same time you've got to remember it's the most popular month of the year for nuptials.

One Light Wonders

A long time ago I bought a 6 foot light, set it up, and realized it was bigger than the camera room. On another whim I bought a "smaller" big light to try again. Scott was just surprised to see how many poses we would do and that it didn't look like a "church directory".

Earth day made convenient

I never thought of recycling until we bought a condo in Colony West in Champaign and they had separate containers by the dumpster. Then we lived in an apartment that didn't have it the first few months here in Rockford and didn't worry about it for a year. Waste Management will take your recycling but it had to be separated. We saw an exhibit at the Children's Discovery Museum in Normal. It wasn't until we got containers in the kitchen that we put it into practice. Putting them stacked next to the trash is where it made the most sense. Now what goes to the curb as recycled is about 2x's what goes to the curb as trash.

Sunny days and bright smiles

Today was the first day it felt like summer. 76 degrees and sunny. Chris, Anna and I started out in the studio, but just kind of felt blah.

Happy Birthday Adam

Somehow kids always seem to get as much cake as they can into their mouth first and then all over everything. It's been a year since I started this blog and the first post was his birth announcement. Now he is up and walking as long as he has a wall to hang on to.

Custom Built Homes

Jeff Leeson, President of Woodfield Homes stops by to visit one of their recent projects with John Mark Tichar and Todd Labuy project managers. The 5100 square foot home was completed about 18 months ago. They will be featured in an upcoming issue of Business Profile Magazine

Receiving Alumni Honors

Stuart Gaines spends his time trying to give people with Alzheimers a better quality of life. He spends his time consulting with nursing homes and is the past chair of the Alzheimer’s Association - Greater Illinois Chapter. While he doesn't know who nominated him, Northern Illinois University Alumni Association will recognize him in its upcoming newsletter for his efforts.

The million dollar staircase idea

There are only so many things you can do on a rainy day with a group portrait. Guys get tired of a line up with their hands folded like a military line. I told them we needed more interaction to which one of them said to Brian, "We only lost a million just on this staircase." At which point it makes them appear to be enjoying their work and makes the subject of blueprints interesting. (and no, there wasn't a million dollar staircase. This grouping was done for the Rockwell Group for an article to appear in Business Profile.

 A True love for their school

Today I finished up the second group of students in the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority at Beloit College. They added 11 new members to the group. I often ask students how they chose where to go. For many it was an extremely easy choice, and the enthusiasm was well stated. That is not to say that I didn't truely enjoy my time at EIU, (especially the Daily Eastern News) but there wasn't that overwhelming feeling from a lot of my class mates that that was the absolute best school.


Caught a little off guard

I was waiting for the door to ring at 7 when all of a sudden there were more people there then I expected. Somehow I hadn't written down in the calendar who was coming when. It's like the bridal show booking season is merging into the summer shooting season, as tonight I did Blake and Dawns session for their May wedding and sat down with another couple for theirs in September. I really like how they complemented each others shirts for the session.

Relaxed and Casual

Joe and Katie are coming up on their wedding. Their session today reaffirms why I always include an engagement session. Yes I do start with the 50th anniversary pose, and then go from there to see how the couple reacts to the camera. Katie had taken off her shoes to lay on the floor. Since they were both snuggled on the floor, I asked Joe if he would do the same. Granted, I would never ask someone to go barefoot in a tux, (well maybe not never). To me it gives them a very nice and relaxed casual look.

Slight of hand

I didn't fully understand commercial photography a year ago, but now I'm loving it. Grant from skt media came in with is friend mike a preacher. Yes he has taught Mike a lot about illutions, but even more so, he had the right look. Grant has produced a how to DVD on street magic. The one they use for the cover will have him levitating on an all white background with special effects. This was actually done by... wait a second. A magician never reveals his secrets. You can order his DVD in about a month.

Looking Hip.

Mara came in for her senior portraits is virtually the same outfit but in 3 different colors. I've spent a lot of time trying to color key the outfits to the backgrounds. I added a white concrete look and a wind machine for this one.

Having a home studio can sometimes be fun.

Sara was at Hilander and I completely forgot that Zack and Kelly were coming in for their engagement session. Couples sometimes get to see first hand what parenting is like. Adam (10 months) sat on the floor content until the cord got rapped around his leg. The little red car did tend to settle him down after that. The session was probably only 10-15 minutes by to a little kid that can seem like a long time.

 Shelter Care Ministries annual mystery dinner.

Thank you again who all who came out in support of Mayas House and Shelter Care Ministries. What a great night of who done it's as 300 of us went back to the 50's and tried to find out how to raise enough money to save the local theater while trying not to get killed at the same time.

Sponsored by
Bradley Gummow & The Gummow Group at Stifel Nicolaus
Williams McCarthy LLP, St Anthony, Rockford Health, Members Alliance Credit Union, and Gary Marzorati

Cast of Characters
Terry Miller
Cassie Johnson
Jeremy Fox
Todd Bonzi
Samantha Bonzi
Michele Bonzi
Chelsea Yates
Claire Johnson
Madeline Rappa
Nicky Bertolino
Lori Beach-Yates
Sabrina Larson

A Geometric Look

Carissa came in to be added late into the photo below. She's already on her own way to becoming a photographer as she's going through the New York Institute of Photography correspondence course. Since I knew what Kristine would be wearing, I figured I'd try out a new backdrop with her.

Kids on a Mission

First and foremost I am glad that I was able to help with the support of the youth missions trip. Missions holds a special place in my heart because it was the first time I started to notice the difference in good photography. They had a bulletin board at church when I was young with all the missionaries. I was always drawn to the Logans in Sierra Leone. Their family looked so well together compared to the others. At that time I didn't know the 9 most common mistakes that could ruin a portrait.

Because of this, I have taken up photography and portraits as a way to use my gift. A portion of the proceeds from any portrait order from friends at First Free has been given back for missions. For those going on short term missions trips, a greater gift is given, and for those going into full time over seas work, it has been a complete gift.

  Pastor JT Bean and about 40 others from First Evangelical Free will be going to Scotland in June with Royal Servants.

Flappers are for fun

Rylee just turned 3. She's not into boys yet, unless it's her favorite cousin Micheal. Today she just wants to act silly.

On our way to state

Saturday was spent with over 150 squads in Tinley Park. Only a select few were able to advance to the ISHA finals based on squad size and coed or all girls. You can see all the photos at Capture.

Dressing up and Going out

Kurt and Kim Haven't had formal photos taken since they've been married. Kims request was don't make us look too formal. Friday they had a conference dinner to go to for Kurts office. He and his partner at Miller Berry won an award from Mass Mutual.

Family coming together

Chris and Shannon will marry in June. And along with doing their engagement photos today they brought along Shannons twins Hayden and Avery. The funniest part of when Shannon came over to look through albums the first time is that she didn't realize I had done Chris's brothers wedding.

Looking for the Pin

Pete Barelli, owner of Midwest Golf Management, spends as much time as possible on a golf course. Because of that he's come up with some good inventions to go along with the game. First a putting practice devise and now the Ad Flag which allows courses to promote local businesses on the pin but not give up the wind directional signals that a traditional flag has. Pete started test marketing them with good success 5 years ago and they are slated to be used at Rockfords Sandy Hollow this summer. This photo was taken in front of a green wall and "screened into a outdoor scene. His story is slated to be published in Business Profile magazines February issue.

Postnet is more than packaging

Tom and Sue, new owners of PostNet, along with their son-in-law Greg show what most people think of first when they think of a pack and ship type store. But once inside you'll see it's a lot more. Greg was a school art teacher for several years and with that brings in the ability to create documents and brochures for customers. They didn't really want to be just a one item shop, and with that went looking for a franchise that would offer enough make it feel like a satellite office. They are located off Perryville and Spring Creek just south of Woodmans. Their story is slated to be published in Business Profile magazines February issue.

Bridal Shows brings out many engaging people.

This is probably the one time Sunday that the area in front of my booth wasn't packed. There are usually 300 brides who come to the Rockfords Own Bridal Expo at the Tebella Shrine every January. One of the ladies at Glamor Bridal was kind enough to take it for me. There were lots of couples I didn't know along with several brides who stopped by that have already booked for this year.

Beauty in Light and Shadow

This could possibly be the most beautiful photo I've taken this year. It will definitely go to APPI print competition. When I saw it on screen before I took in into Photoshop, I had to pause. The detail reminded me of when North American Photo Lab would get a request to print other photographers prints like Monte's. Their response would be only if you would send us a negative like Monte's.

It was taken in the front corner of the Kishwaukee Community Presbyterian Church with the only window in the room. Afterwards Jennifer and Kenny took a 28 passenger Rock Star tour bus, stopped by Sinnissippi Park, and then went to the reception at Forest Hills Lodge. Kevin Burns from Good Vibrations was the DJ. You can see their engagement show and wedding Album Presentation now, and their Shopping Cart later this week.

Coming into Anchor

Mike Garrigan has been seen on CBS affiliate WIFR channel 23 in Rockford for the last 3 years. Up until now, he's had the role of sports director. In the last couple weeks he has had a new position to fill. You can now find Mike behind the anchor desk where he joins Nichole Vrsansky week nights at 5, 6 and 10. This photo was also taken for an upcoming article in Rockford Life.

New Years Resolutions

My wife Sara, as a dietitian, was told often to see the movie Super Size Me. It follows one mans quest to only eat from McDonalds for 30 days. Not only does he gain lots of weight, and become lethargic, but he interviews doctors and fitness experts about how we should live. In one scene he visits a alternative high school for drop outs. After the cafeteria switched from pizza and frozen foods to fresh foods the altertness in class improved along with the grades. Something many schools around here could learn from.

So in short I have 2 new years resolutions. One to forgo the golden arches and the other to recommend the movie Super Size Me.

Warm Winter wedding days

Whenever couples plan for a winter wedding, they know that they may face some less than perfect weather. So when Allison and Chuck were able to walk across the street to the Coronado from the First Presbyterian Church they were very pleased.

Right after the wedding, the couple had a reception in the churches fellowship hall. Larry Metzger from ABC Catering provided dinner.

Family game night

This week we got to go back to Peoria to see the family. There seems to be a never ending collection of games. The new game this time was Apples to Apples from Out of the Box Games. Every one gets 7 red cards and one person per round gets a green card that every one else has to match a description to. Usually I don't like trivia games because I can never remember who starred with who from 40 years ago. But this has just enough pop culture mixed with just enough off the wall comparisons to make it fun for anyone. You can see a demo of the game on their site. The game even has a online meetup with 54 local groups and growing.

Going for a pin

Rockford East High School hosted the Rockford Wrestling Bad Boys Invitational Wednesday. The event had over 20 clubs from the area. The Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation affiliate teaches kids 7 to 14 the fundamentals of Greco-Roman Wrestling.

Friends make for the best referral

I first got to meet Rachel over email. She's in grad school at Purdue with Brooke who will marry in August. So even though it means making a trip through Rockford to see me, and I'll be going to Augustana College in the Quad Cities to see her, it will all work out. But I won't be the only vender from Rockford there. If it were up to Jeremy there would be pizza for dinner instead of chicken. The next best thing is to have Giordano's come for the rehearsal dinner. Who would have thought! But yes, they'll go anywhere in Illinois to cater your event.

Making banking easier

Michael Greer, regional president & CEO for Associated Bank stands in the main lobby of the branch at 612 N. Main. The branch just received a new remodel to accommodate more offices, and to make the reception and client waiting area more user friendly. You can read more about Greer and Associated Bank in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.

Visits from 'Ol St. Nick.

Saras friend Lynne and Art came over to surprise the kids. They do nursing home visits and have had fun with it for years. All day long we told Megan that Santa wouldn't come if she didn't ______ :) Once he came though she wasn't so sure she liked the idea and would finally sit on my lap next to santa but not with him. Adam on the other hand Loved the beard.

The "cobblers" children get their "shoes"

If you've ever heard the expression about the cobblers kids who run barefoot, it's often because he's working on someone elses shoes. In the same way, people are surprised that Megan and Adam don't go to the studio once a month. We got them matching outfits which was kind of hard even though it makes it look better. (Megans turtle neck was found in the boys section of the store.)

It never hurts to go to the bridal shows early

I first met Brooke at a the Rockfords Own Bridal Expo at the Teballa Shrine Temple in January of 2003. Since that time she has sent 4 other couples to see me. Thursday Max popped the question next to the biggest Christmas tree one could find. They will marry next August 18th on Brookes grand parents anniversary.

A Brother for Christmas

Hannah and Abby are one year apart and because of that, they can get along well. Now they have a little brother they have been waiting for. Jacob was born December 14th and already they are finding out they have their hands full.

Purveyor of Fine Chocolat

Chocolat by Daniel opened 7 weeks ago downtown on State Street. It's not really the kind of store that you'd want to find in a modern strip mall. Daniel studied at Ecole Chocolat in British Columbia and toured through France before opening his store. You can read the complete story about Daniel in the next issue of Rockford Life.

Da Bears

Families usually like to have a formal photograph taken first. It's the one that hangs in the living room. But guys also need something for the den, or where ever it is that they gather on Sunday afternoon.

Getting ready for school

Megan got to visit her new class today. She will be with Mrs. Amy at White Swan in Rockford District 205. She wanted me to sit with her for circle time at the beginning, but was soon ready to go and pick her own activity from the board. She will start everyday in January and be with this class until she's 5.

Keeping ahead of the camera

I started doing video 2 years ago at First Free. Partly as a way to help out, and partly because there will probably come a day that video cameras will be clear enough that you could freeze a frame as a photo for album candids. This weekend was their Wonders Christmas production; a 2 hour musical. Because there is more going on on stage than normal, they asked me to read the script for the director to know what is happening. It's a thankless job that you don't realize how helpful it is until you're there.

Ready... OK!

Sunday was an all day cheer competition at East High School sanctioned by the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association. Belvidere took top spot in the coed division.

What size is a standard wedding album?

This is a question that I here often. To put something as standard is harder to define than one might think. This is my first formal two volume set and it was ordered as a parents album set. Others have ordered a formal traditional album plus a formal fine art album. By going to a ala carte structure, it's easier to let couples get exactly what they want instead of trying to decide months in advance what they think they need. The black and silver comes from Renaissance and the gold and black with Ivory cover comes from Zookbinders. They can do albums up to 124 pages, but mom decided it would be better to have it in 2 volumes.

Nobody made it 12 rounds

Promoter Sky Drysdale hosted Rumble in the Park Saturday. The fight was sanctioned by the International Kick boxing Federation. The Main Event between Kevin 'Stretch' Smiles (29-6/12, 209, 6'6") of Blyth, Northumberland, England and Dan 'Son of a Preacherman' Erickson (PK: 9-1-1/5, Pro Team: 3-1/2, AK: 21-1/11, 215, 6'6" ) of Stone Lake, Wisconsin, USA finished wit a knockout in round 7. The IFK site will have updates on all the fights.

Damian Norris knocked out his opponent Adam Fjalstad in the second round and screams with excitement. At 18, he's been doing Tae Kwon Do at Excel Academy for 13 years. He started kickboxing one year ago. Major sponsors included Lou Bachrodt, Miller Lite, Skybox, Holiday Inn Express and, Dan Hauser. This event was held at the Sports Score 2.

My first 20 foot portait

Rockford Life makes its grand unveil in Rockford. And part of that is the billboard on the east side of Perryville right next to Ingrassia Interior Elements. I did the cover shot of Mayor Larry Morrisey in October and several other inside photos.

A look at Forest City early industry

This desk is on display at the Erlander Museum in the Haight Village near downtown Rockford. It was built by the Union Furniture Company which was founded in 1876. It was one of 70 companies like it in town. You can read more in the January issue of Rockford Life.

A Rockford favorite, A Swedish favorite

Regulars to Stockholm Inn sit down Wednesday to Swedish pancakes with lingonberrys. The photograph was taken for Rockford Life for an article about things unique to Rockford.

Bringing the islands back to Rockford

Steve and Kristine first married in July in Jamaica. Yet finding a date to hold their reception at the new Radisson was tougher than expected. When they did, they brought as much of the island flavor back with them as they could. The water fall cake was done by their friend Jody. It's only her second wedding cake, but it looked like she did it regularly.



Getting advice from those who have been there

The anniversary dance has become a staple at wedding receptions. All married couples are asked to come onto the dance floor and then eliminated starting with those who have been married less than 10 hours and so on. There are not ever very many past 50 years. When it's the couples grandparents it makes it even more special. Like most they were asked the one piece of advice that would keep Justin and Laura going. Their unrehearsed answers come across sincere and often give a true insight into what it takes to make a marriage last.

Their wedding way held at St James in Belvidere and Reception at Clocktower. Sound Q Productions provided the reception entertainment.

Marriage surrounded by family

Ted and Teri knew they were going to have a small ceremony. And at the time it almost wouldn't have felt right to have their close family members sit in the audience for 800. So they joined them on the podium. In the same way that the wedding rings are an endless circle, their family support with them creates an endless circle.

Their wedding way held at Heartland and Reception at Giovonis.

Soccer isn't just for kids in Rockford

Coach Jeff Kraft of the Rockford Thunder delivers a press report on the upcoming season opener on Nov 18th. Indoor soccer tends to be a faster game because of the smaller field and the ability to sub players in and out on the fly similar to hockey. They will be part of the American Indoor Soccer League, and will play at Rockfords Sports Score 2.

Soft smiles and a warm heart

Some people have their photo smile that they use every time. It probably started before kindergarten with their first prompting to say cheese. With most couples and try to get them to try a variety of smiles. Some of the brightest are when I tell them to find someone cuter than the photographer to look at (Each other.) Kim and Keith chose this soft look as their favorite.

Life imitates art

Joyce Pamela, and I had joked about the nude painting on the wall behind the head table. To which I reminded her how loudly I knocked before I came into the dressing room that morning. But looking around I thought it might be kind of fun to imitate. After all photography is just another way of looking at how light creates highlight and shadow. Richard Franklins "To Go Beyond" made for a great background. The reaction from friends was great. They thought it looked cool and then I asked which is the cuter couple. At that point they got it and were like wow.

There wedding was at St Ritas Catholic Church and Reception at Franchescos

Big sisters like to play games

Grooms are aloud to be nervous. But in Damons case everyone was scared he would pass out. So much so that Joyces sisters Amy & Pamela put a wager to it. Had it not been for Pastor Kobbeman telling Damon to take a couple of breathes in the middle of service the outcome could have swayed. Can you guess who won?

I often say my job in not just about pretty pictures, but about making things that are memorable.

There wedding was at St Ritas Catholic Church and Reception at Franchescos

Fall Family Portraits

Just when you think it's too late to have an outdoor portrait, you get another call. In Paulas case she wanted to wait until their favorite Maple tree changed color. They had won a silent auction at a Mothers Of Pre Schoolers fund raiser at First Evangelical Free Church.

Full of Energy

Damon and Joyce needed an easy engagement portrait before their wedding. The fun part was bringing along their 18 month old son Cayden. After I knew they had a safe traditional look I told them just to horseplay.

Sisterhood formalities

A couple weeks ago I got a call from Sarah who was looking to have the Alpha Sigma Tau house composite done. After hearing some photographers say "I don't know, but I could try," and other houses say they wish they could change, she was relieved to have called me. When I lived in Champaign I worked for Memory Lane Photography which had 20 of the 23 sorority houses at the UofI under contract. It's interesting to find out how students end up at Beloit College. Some had said it was the same quality of education as the University of Chicago without the big city price. In Beths case it was a chance to move from England. Her dad is a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and she doesn't remember life here when she was two.

Affections on the water

When your dad is a retired cop it is sometimes harder to bring home boys than others. And as Cassandra was the youngest, that can make it even tougher to let them go. Cassie and Oscar met on a blind date just over 5 years ago. Trying to narrow it down to just one photo was tough. There were just so many. The lighting here gives such a warm accent and yet leaves some romance in the shadows. There album presentation is here and the shopping cart is up.

The wedding was at Holy Family Church with a limo ride from Classic in between to Rock Cut State Park. Their reception was as Ramada on Bell School -soon to be Radisson Inn. Floral arrangements were by Garden Arts in Winnebago, and Doug & Helen Passmore from Fortress of Sound were the DJ's.

Dogs are mans best friends

From watching Jen and Mark take these two out for a walk, you'd almost wander who was walking who. To look at them you'd think they were both full of energy. But the vet report says otherwise. And so with not knowing how long they would have both pups, they wanted to have their photos together.

When the last family portrait only had one child

Most photographers know that the rule of thumb for a family to do a nice portrait is every 6 years. For Mike and Renee, the portrait over the fire place only had their oldest and almost seemed embarrassing. So after a weeks delay do to rain, we went out to Blackhawk forest preserve to find this spot.

They had won a silent auction at a benefit for Juliana Wetmore, a little girl in Pecatonica who was born with a birth defect called Treacher Collins Syndrome, she is missing 30-40% of the bones in her face. Juliana has been through 21 surgeries and will undergo an unknown number in the future years. The benefit raised over $15,000 for Juliana & her family.

The good and disgusting of movie date night

It's odd when I get a totally free Saturday. So we found our favorite free sitter (the grandparents) and treated ourselves to dinner and a movie. After reading the critics reviews we decided to go to The Departed. After 5 minutes and many over the top degrading and racist remarks, we had to leave. Perplexed we walked the hall looking at the times of other movies and instead we went to The Prestige.

The Prestige in short is about 2 magicians assistant friends who turn into rivals after a trick goes bad on stage. The entire movie is filled with flashbacks and clues to help solve the most complex magic act that has ever been performed on stage. The story line was well written and well acted. It's the type of movie that makes you think about what happened even the next day. We'll be seeing The Prestige again to try to catch some of the flashbacks. It was that good.

Spirit of Caring

I first met Rev. David Beauvais at St James for Chris and Kara's wedding. Three days later Linda Niemiec, Vice President of Development, at Crusader Clinic sent me a package about the Spirit of Caring award nominees. After 3 years I finally get to photograph a winner, but I couldn't tell anyone. There annual fund raising dinner was Friday at Giovonis and raised $100,000. In his many years as priest, David directed the diocese's Catholic Charities and helped to develop St. Anne's Center. You can read the complete story in the Rockford Register Star.

Great shining light

Steve and Kristine were officially married in July on a tropical island. But you can't bring all your friends along with you when you go. So now they plan the reception in November. I've been working more on finding good light. They were under a tree just at the edge of the canopy. The light comes in over Steves shoulder and warms Kristinas smile.

Fun in the Park

Monday I met up with Scott & Stephanie. They'll be getting married next year. I've got 17 weddings booked for next year. This time last year I had 8. So when 2 couples come to see me back to back for the same wedding day, it makes it easy to say yes to the extremely laid back pair. It also helps that I only do cute couples:)

A cake with a little extra sweetness

Carolyn Jurisch watched Angie grow up as neighbors. And today her gift was a little sweeter than most. She's been doing cakes for people ever since she got a recipe from a friend in junior high. Having not veered from the original mix, her cake was extremely moist and the frosting was just right. Not too sweet; and not bland. Carolyn says she does the cakes for fun. I've looked into doing them as a small business, but then your always doing what someone else wants and your doing it almost every weekend. Maybe that's why it tastes better than most.

Greg and Angie got married at Sinnisippi Park under a tent from Berg Industries. Afterwards they road in style with AAA Limousines to Giovonis for their reception. Their DJ was Ryan from Time Warp Entertainment in Freeport.

Building a family business

Brad Heinrich, President of Rockford Structures stops by a job site in Belvidere. He is followed by his son Nathan Heinrich, Vice President and son-in-law Chris Reyenga, Director of Business Development. The company was started by Lenz Heinrich in 1966. Today they are stopping by the strip mall Logan Commons which is about 80% completed. Their projects have included libraries, churches, restaurants, commercial/industrial facilities, sports complexes, and hotels. They will be featured in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.

An athlete at many levels

Brittany came to me for senior pictures and I already knew I had to find something different. She's been BMX Racing for several years and has even gotten sponsorship with Stile. It's nice because they built me a custom bike and pay all my travel and racing expenses. Plus I get bonuses when I win. Not as much as if I were pro, but it's still nice to be sponsored. When she's not racing she's an outside hitter at Stillman Valley and plays club volleyball at Rockford Volleyball in the off season. It's the best way to be seen by a college scout. Brittanys shopping cart is open.

Suiting Up

Brandon knows that being under 225lbs, he'll never play the line at Byron. But that doesn't stop his love of the game. He wouldn't let mom clean his helmet before today.

Tournament Time

Rockford has definately been known as a sports friendly city. Even Sports Illustrated marked us as the best in Illinois. Sunday I shot over 1000 images at the Sports Score 2 complex for the tournament hosted by Rockford Sirens.

"I'm getting married today!!!"

Meghan was overjoyed all morning long, and with a big gasp told everyone. Before the wedding I made sure to ask, "what do you do for fun." Ron and Meghan are such big outdoors people that they couldn't think of anything better than to have a little picnic in the park.

No, corn is not a vegetable.

Sara, my wife, is a registered dietitian at Crusader Clinic. She is also working towards collecting her 1000 hours of diabetes counseling to be a certified diabetes educator. It's a very serious disease when you look at the health care costs and at the numbers of people getting it. Many times people don't understand what they eat and how it effects them. 50% of Hispanic women will become diabetics before they die. You can see more of Saras story in the Register Star

Visions of Excellence for Everyone

This photo was taken as part of the cover story for Rockford Life Magazine. Sitting in on the interview I got a sense of why Mayor Larry Morrisey has fallen in love with this town and how he is following through with the plans he made while campaigning.

Rockford Life will be published 10 times a year and will premiere with the Holiday Issue. As a former journalism student, I wanted to know where the direction was going before I signed on. Barb Sunderlage, the Editor-in-Chief had recently been editor of a crafts magazine. I'll be the first to admit my grandma tried to teach me to knit once 20 years ago. So seeing that Barbs previous work held my attention well made me pretty excited about what will be coming for Rockford Life.

You can find Rockford Life on several hundred newsstands throughout the area starting in November.

In town just to see each other

Brooke and Jamie don't get to see each other as much as they want. Purdue gave her an offer she couldn't refuse. For Jamie it's a nice break from the fields. They'll be getting married next year.

Walks on the Riverfront

Jennifer and Kenny knew they were meant for each other. And just before major moves to and from Arizona, they took a walk downtown. To me it only makes sense for couples to want to go back to a special place for photos. Yes you can go to the arboretum, but if you haven't been there in 2 years, it might not have meaning to you.


2 of 2 a busy wedding day

Jills mom cornered me 4 years ago at her co-workers wedding about doing her brother Toms senior pictures. At the time, it was only the second wedding I'd done in Rockford (and I was probably as nervous as the bride), and I tried to tell her I was mostly weddings. Well, when it was time for Jill to get married, it was much easier to say sure. That being said, I didn't have it on the calender when Troy and Amanda called.

Madison was timid to walk down the aisle at first, but seeing dad reaching out, made her want to run.

There wedding was at Aldeen golf course and the reception at Tebala Shrine. They went by Vangalder Limo from the wedding to reception. Robert Senese was the officiant and DJ and can also be found often at White Pines State Park.


Getting out early for a wedding

Amanda was very particular in what she wanted for her wedding, despite her frugal ways. A plated dinner and a very good photographer topped the list. In addition to that, she and Troy wanted to have a special friend perform the ceremony. Rick went through the process just for them and today was his first wedding.

Sometimes it's the anticipation of the kiss that makes for a better image than the kiss its self. Amandas laughter makes for a much warmer expression and a little less predictable than the kiss.

There wedding was at the Second Congregational Church and reception a Giovanni's. Thanks again Deb for helping to make the flow of a 2 wedding day go well.


Sandberg is a hit at the MILL outing

Ryne Sandberg, of the Chicago Cubs spent the morning with 19 other golfers at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club as the first event for the MILLS annual Celebrity Celebration. It was pretty insightful at breakfast to hear him talk about the difference in management styles now verses when he started. Later this evening, he will be the keynote speaker at Cliffbreakers.

The MILL seeks to help abused, neglected and at-risk youth and their families to develop and establish appropriate values, healthy relationships, behaviors, and life skills that will lead to responsible and productive lives.


Bringing the family together

Birthdays are mile stones, and 80 is one to celebrate.


 Picture of the week (9/16-9/23)

Accessories make the outfit. And in this case the French manicure makes the shoes. Detail photographs are fun to find.

I will admit I had help choosing this one. One of her bridesmaids just came by to see me about her wedding next September. Usually these appointments run longer than other bridal appointments because we spend more than half the time laughing and reminiscing about the other wedding we have been to together.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

Box lunches to think outside the box

Just over a year ago I was "dragged" into doing my first commercial shoot. To me commercial meant staring at the same plate of food for 8 hours and making 200 Polaroids. Fridays lunch and learn with Northern Illinois Advertising Federation featured Mary Ellen Jensen from Punchstock, a stock photography agency. Stock photography is basically clip art from the photography stand point and is often used for marketing pieces when an ad agency doesn't have time to find a photographer to take a specific photograph.

The meetings are held one Friday a month at Rock Valley College. Attendees usually include your ad agency and radio station types, but also include several people from non profits who are looking to better communicate with their audience. Lunch was provided by Countryside Meat and Deli on Perryville.

Massaging your way to Wellness

Coming to get a massage is a true treat, but it's got to be done right. I had a coupon once for a full service salon and the lady didn't seem to know the difference between a knot and a muscle roll. Ramona at Wellness Massage is a different story. I met her through the Rockford Traders League about a year ago. When she's not doing massage she's got her own unique art project going. Ramona started a painters blog as a way to improve her technique. Each day there is a new piece done and scanned in for the Daily Paintings. The work includes a mix of include landscapes, still lifes, and interiors.

The kid is already camera shy

Kevin and Angie married 2 years ago, and shortly after moved out to Washington where Kevin was living. Finding out that Nicholas was on the way was enough to move them back to Rockford. Nicholas turned his head away from me several times as dad spun around in a circle to get him facing the right direction. It was like he knew he was playing games with dad.

Wedding Seminars aren't always about hanging prints

I spent the day at Donnelys Wild West in Union. The Northern PPA group had Jeff and Julia Woods as the speakers. They are anything but conventional in their approach, but that is why their clients love them. I sometimes tend to agree. The church is a beautiful and sacred place to have the ceremony, but it's not the place where the couple feel madly in love with each other and doesn't always draw out their best. My one claim to fame is that I got a second in wedding album design at state the year Jeff placed third and fourth. Trust me though they have won more awards than I have.

Today wasn't only about pretty pictures. It's scary to think that a studio owners average salary of a PPA member in the US is about $21K year for home based and $40K year for storefront. It shows that a lot of people, photographers included, don't really understand what it takes to produce an 8x10 print.

Jamie and Amanda album release

There is definitely something to a radiant smile. All brides have them, but Amandas seemed exceptionally warm. Maybe it was the gorgeous day? Maybe it was knowing that after several years of courtship with Jamie, the day had finally come? Your album presentation is ready.

A Realtor with a Marketing Edge

Ladda wanted something a little more creative than most. But then again when she brought me samples that she liked from working with Dick Eckburg at Coldwell Banker I could tell why. "I was working in restaurant management and loving it at Marys Market when Dicks son cherry picked me," recalls Ladda. "It took some convincing to come, but I've progressed so much in the last year and a half and Dick says it's time to grow."

Watch me Grow  
 For years I've wanted to start a watch me grow program. It's a natural segway for newly weds to come back when they are not so newly wed. It also gives parents a special incentive to bring their child back several times in that first year. Monica and Daniel were married in November of 2003. Alexia was born in this spring and came back today for her 3 month portrait.

There's something romantic about an old brick bridge

Amanda and Jamie were married just outside the lodge at White Pines State Park where the reception was also held. Before the ceremony Amandas friends, despite that it was an outdoor wedding, were very cautious about where she went in the dress. Getting away from the rest of the wedding for pictures relaxed us all, and Amanda was fair game to then sit on the "dirty" steps. The moment speaks for its self.

Jim Readeker ( was the videographer who I've worked with several times before, and Tom from Mystic Lust ( was the dj.

Getting the "B" in bird

Megan thinks it's a treat when Janet Randall comes to visit. She's a developmental therapist with Easter Seals. Megan has about a 15 word (and growing) vocabury. Her condition is Speech Apraxia where she has a hard time putting 2 sounds together. This is something her pediatrician recommended we think about. Then when Megan's 3 she'll go to Fairview.

Bubbles of Fun

Moms love to dance with their sons. Maybe part of it is that for years boys acted with the whole "I'm too cool to acknowledge mom thing" as a jr. high kid, and acted like they didn't need them. By the time they grow up, they grow out of it. During the first dance Erika and Patrick passed out bubbles to blow for the guests. Having to be a participant in the first dance, Erika didn't want to miss all the fun and kept it up for hubby and mom. It wasn't their first shower of the day. With on and off weather, they took the ceremony outside and were being drizzled on by the end of the "15 minute" long ceremony.

They were married at Interlaken Resort in Lake Geneva Wisconsin with a reception immediately after. Sean at Radio Active Interactive Radio DJ Music and Fun was the DJ.

Boone County Fair winner ready for state entry

Maria Zickert is definitely living a busy life. She spent the last week with Madalynn Visser who won the Little Miss competition at the Boone County Fair. "We were there for the entire thing," said Maria. We got to hand out ribbons and introduce events at the grandstand. Madalynn was a blast to hang out with and a real trooper. The funnest part was getting all the fair food we wanted for free."

Maria is a 2006 graduate of Belvidiere High School and chose community involvement with the elderly for her platform. As a CNA she got to see first hand what life in a nursing home is like. Maria is heading south to SIU Carbondale to be a Freshman majoring in dental hygiene. She is looking forward to the Miss Illinois pageant in Springfield in January.

Having Maximum Fun

This was from an extended family portrait Sunday. Every one is amazed when they get to Rotary Gardens in Janesville and see how beautiful it is. I always start with the more formal groups first. (You've got to get the kids attention while you can.) But there was plenty of time to play and let them look at the fish.

The classic car from a family friend

I love it when couples have something fun for their car on the wedding day. And today Sarah and Chris had an old classic Cadillac LaSalle complete with suicide doors. What makes this car even more special is that it was chauffeured by their friend Mark, and it was also used by Sarahs brother Dan at his wedding to Cara 2 years ago.

The wedding was held at St. Mary Catholic Church in Pecatonica reception was the Best Western Clock tower. Decorations were done by Gloria Nielson at Beautiful Weddings and Jason from Music by Chance was the DJ.

Larson and Larson bridging the school gap

Garry and Brent of Larson and Larson Builders stand in the almost completed breezeway that will connect Rockton Elementary and Whitman Elementary in Rockton IL. In addition they have added 9 classrooms to meet the needs of the growing community. You can see more of their story in the next issue of Business Profile Magazine.

And the winner is . . .

Maria Zickert is crowned by Chelsey Lee the 2005 Boone County Fair pageant winner. It was quite an exciting night for all. Her platform is community involvement with the elderly, and she was sponsored by Don Galani's Boutique. Come back on Thursday when you can see all the photos from the pageant. The group posters will be ready in another day.

ONE QUICK NOTE - All photographs will be properly darkened and lightened once ordered.

Kicking off the Boone County Fair

The Boone County Fair in Belvidere is one of the largest in the state. And what is a fair without a pageant. Tonight, last years winners Chelsey Lee and MacKenzie Powers waved to the crowd at the Belvidere Community Center. Contestants gave speeches on their platforms and little miss contestants were interviewed about their pets and travel.

Looking good in Prada

Grooms usually are not very particular in what gets planned for the weddings with the exception of one detail. In this case, Chris had to have a nice pair of shades to go with his tux. The only question is who looks better in Pradas, Kara or Chris.

There wedding was at St James Catholic Church and reception was at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club.

Traveling brother comes home

Chad has spent the last 2 years working as a doc out west. Now he's moved to the deep South in Jackson, Mississippi. In the mean time, he went to Honduras for 2 weeks on a medical missions trip. His friend is Laurel who he met while she was doing a rotation out west. (She just happens to be from the Jackson area.)

Say Cheese

Tonight was an over due night to laugh with the kids. I hadn't been to Chuck E. Cheese's since I was a kid. I don't know who had the most fun. If there was a drawback, it was that Megan learned that you can put coins in the cars and they make sounds and move. She didn't know that about the cars at the mall before. All of us getting into the tiny picture booth was a challenge. You never know when they are going to freeze it.

First Step to increasing awareness

Dr Philip Schalow is a friend I met at the Boone County Fair. That was 3 years ago and we were both new to the area. Now that our businesses are going strong we both felt the desire to do some extra marketing and cross promotion. As with any office in town most practitioners either leave the walls barren or cover them with the same general art work you see in many offices.
In June Dr Schalow did an art show for another friend of his. ( Philip had worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.) It was when this was done that he asked if I wanted to hang some of mine.

The offer then went to making it a customer appreciation offer. Once every few weeks, all of Dr Schalows patients names are put into a drawing to receive a portrait of themselves to display in his office and is then theirs to keep.

Dr. Schalows offices are at 4519 Highcrest in Rockford just south of Edgebrook shopping center. He is a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic and specializes in NUCCA, a minimalist form of chiropractic . He can be reached at 398-4500.

 Ryan and Jessica Album

Bridal shows can be fun. I can still remember their reaction to me (and the other "dated" photographers) at the bridal show in Beloit. Ryan and Jessica married in May just before I started doing album presentations for when they returned from the honeymoon.

 Summertime play

Sometimes kids don't know how to react to the camera. Sunday we did the traditional family portrait in the back yard, which like many kids they weren't thrilled for. Afterwards mom just asked if I could watch them play. It didn't take long and they forgot about me and were happy to fall to the ground with ring around the rosy.

The Andersons won this session at a silent auction for the Pickerts who are going into full time missions work in Romania with First Love Ministries.

 Picture of the week (7/29-8/5)

There are some brides who are scared to wear their dress outside, and then there are others who are completely trusting with whatever you ask them to do. Brian and Holly left the church in the borrowed classic convertible promising not to take it far because nobody had plates for it.

At this point Holly is tossing the bouquet around like a ball. She was a P.E. major in college after all. Thank you again for being so easy and fun to work with.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

Fun in the Jamaican Sun

Nick and Candice did what more couples are doing. Destination weddings are up 200% from 10 years ago. Today they wanted to get the family together for pictures since they all couldn't go with. Even though it was 98 degrees outside we found plenty of spots in the shade at Rotary Gardens in Janesville. (Well worth the drive.) Afterwards they had a reception at Linos in Rockford.

Tim and Erins wedding online.

Playing the waiting game can sometimes take patience. With their new move to set up a home together, getting internet access wasn't the first thing needed. Today they came back to see the parents and got to see the album presentation.

The wedding was held at Broadway Covenant, the reception was held at the Ramada in at South Beloit, and Jennifer at J ProVideo did the videography.

 The controls behind your controls

This was a product shot done with Business Profile magazine for their upcoming article on Alpha Controls. Brent and Frank were also photographed as the 2 key executives in the Rockford office. Their primary responsibilities is to engineer and integrate components that fit within the HVAC systems of larger commercial buildings. Current projects include 2 schools in the Belvidere school district and the Winnebago County Justice Center.

 A front yard make over

Glen and Martin came by today from Tylers Landscaping. I had the plans drawn earlier. Its something that has been needed for too long. Sometimes I procrastinate because it seams like such a big commitment. Somehow they'll get it all done in a day. They're much more efficient at that than I would be at landscaping. I met Tyler through the Traders League. It's a group of about 200 businesses that work off of a large barter system. Basically I can photograph a carwash owners sons senior pictures (Steve at Windsor Car Wash in Loves Park) and then take the trade credit to another business. You can find my photographs on Tylers site

 Picture of the week (7/22-7/29)

Don't ask me which isle you can find "Brides" in at Woodmans, but when you build a grocery store 4 times larger than average, it's sure to be a one stop shop. Chris and Stacey had more fun than most on their day. Who should get the credit for putting Stacey into the cart? I don't know. But what does matter is the bonds that this group of friends have formed together.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

On to a commercial kitchen

Mark Butz, general foreman at Sun Lee Development pauses as workers behind him refurbish the bar at Cousins Bar and Grill on Perryville Rd. Sun Lee will be featured in Business Profile later this month.

When the Bride Joins the Band

Tonight was not your normal reception. It was more fun and had a lot more going on. Selena found a band online out of Galena. Were late and smell like beer was definitely not auditioning for the part of the next wedding genre movie, but instead had a unique sound of their own. This Zydeco group with their cajun blues sound, felt like they would fit in as street musicians just as much as in ballrooms. They never really set out to be a wedding band, but some how have been at over 50 weddings with no Shania Twain or Tim McGraw in their repertoire .

Also included in the reception was Wesoly Lud, a 16 member Polish folk dance ensemble. After several numbers and a costume change, they received a standing ovation.
The wedding was at St. Anthonys Catholic Church with reception at Giovanni's. They road across town in a limo bus by Vangalder, the video was done by Jeff at Accurate Video Productions, and the DJ was David at Sound Image.

Portraits in Personal Locations

This morning I got to go out with Hannah, Olivia and Grace. They are 3 sisters who live in Wisconsin, but get to come to spend time with there dad here in Rockford. One of the funnest things they do at dads is to play in the woods. They must own stock in Off by now for as much as they use.

Finding this location was easy. The bridge was build by them and dad above the creek in the back yard. This is why I love to do portraits on location. No it's not always always the best working environment, but every time they see this image they will be reminded of the good times they have with dad in the woods because its on the bridge they built together.

A good day at print competition

It's one thing to have your clients like your work. It's another to be subjected to your piers. Wednesday I went a seminar given by Paul Rogers of Romeoville and sponsored by Northern PPA. After the workshop a panel of judges will critique your work. I received 6 red ribbons for above average prints. "Strong Bonds" scored the highest. Also entered where "Daddys Favorite Picture Book" "Fallen in Love" and "Last days together."

 Picture of the week (7/14-7/21)

For Monica and Daniel there are 2 people in this photograph who weren't supposed to be there. I can still recall hearing about the trip from O'Hare to pick up grandpa from Mexico. We also knew that Rogelio would not be able to make it to the wedding and were able to "Photoshop" him in. Yes I know this is never going to hang at print competition, but when couples tell me stories of the bonds of their families, it makes me want to take the extra step to make things come out as best as they can.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

Josh and Jill now online

Wedding season is either feast or famine. I've had 6 weddings in the last 3 weeks. Which sometimes makes it tought to get caught up. Jill and Josh have seen their wedding album presentation and loved it. Now that the happy couple has seen it first, the entire wedding will be released.

Dan and Michelle now online

Wedding season is either feast or famine. I've had 6 weddings in the last 3 weeks. Which sometimes makes it tought to get caught up.

Co-Marketing with One Stop

Bev started One Stop Wedding Shop with the idea of really helping the bride. Not only do they have a wide selection of gowns, they expand further into making true suggestions. Brides come here because the don't want the department store experience. Part of that is really knowing your other wedding professionals. Instead of a couple having to open a phone book to 50 photographers or 50 dj's, they have a selection of 5 predetermined for quality. You can then review their porfollios at an interactive DVD station.

I've been told by prospects my DVD is moving enough to make them cry. To know that I can connect to a person through images of people they don't even know, just reinforces how much more powerful the reactions are when it's a mother calling after seeing her daughters photos for the first time.

You can find One Stop Wedding Shop at 5732 E Riverside in Loves Park or call them at (815) 636-9344

Not the normal way a bride chooses her minister

Tim and Erin married today at Broadway Covenant in the same church that Erins parents married in 28 years ago. That in and of itself is enough to make this day special. But beyond that, today was Pastor Eric Filkins first wedding. He has been working at the church for about 2 years but was just ordained a couple weeks ago. Erin was one of the people on the search committee who brought Eric to Rockford. (You can also tell a difference when a couple like Tim and Erin knows the pastor personally.) After spending 10 years as a lawyer he felt called to be a minister and went to North Park Seminary.
Their wedding was filled with readings from friends, songs sung by those close to them, and Erics message. If you go back and look at the story of the wedding at Cana (John 2) there is more to the story of the water that is used to make wine.

The reception was held at the Ramada in at South Beloit, and Jennifer at J ProVideo did the videography.

You can see their photos later in the week after Tim and Erin see them first.

The first guest with the Coronados new host

It is just awesome when you have someone who will go out of your way for you. Josh and Jill were married today. The two things I heard from Jill more than once were, I want a good dress shot and how do I find a pretty place for pictures. They wanted to go to the Coronado in the worst way, but had problems connecting with management because it changed July 1.
Enter Aunt Barb
Jills aunt takes it upon herself to try to connect. She parked in her service truck, downtown, she knew that eventually someone would think they ordered service and come out to talk to her, or she would find the right person walk by. That was what was needed to get confirmation, and we were in for a beautiful setting.

The ceremony was at Sinnissippi Gardens and Reception at Giovonis with a AAA limo ride in between. You can see their engagement session here and the wedding in a week.

Off to competition

There are lots of dancers at Studio 11. Some choose to take it more seriously than others. Last night I took the 17 team photos. Tomorrow they head off to Iowa. Good luck again.

Our first parade

There are several things you associate with the 4th. Fire works, picnics and parades. She really liked the old bi-planes before the parade started in downtown Rockford. Megan was given a flag from a Korean Vet. and an waved it back to everyone who waved it at her. Once Adam woke up, she thought he should share in the fun and put the flag in his hand. She's very inclusive with her brother that way.

The newest trend in get aways... Borrow a truck from work

A couple weeks ago Nathan and Lauren left the church to a dump truck from work. Yesterday Dan and Michelle leave in a ladder truck that Dans buddies on the force brought by. And yes, nobody actually took the show vehicles out of the churches site. They had a real limo bus from vangalder. What a great day full of surprises. I don't know which was bigger. Seeing Michelle's brothers Joe and Mark come is the brightest colored tuxes you ever saw, or Michelle being escorted to her Bears stadium seat by the Super Bowl Shuffle.
You can see the rest of the images later next week.
The wedding was held at St Peters Catholic church and the recepetion was held at Tebala Shrine. Jason from Music by Chance was the DJ.

 Picture of the week (7/02-7/10)

Malt and Nicole married 2 years ago Friday but originally planned to marry in October. I got a call from Nicole in June saying they had to move it up to a Wednesday afternoon because the Army was moving up Matts schedule. I can still recall her recount of moms conversation. Do you want a big wedding, or do want to be married. They had a small reception with about 50 people at the Rockford Airport. There was no band. There was no first dance. But they had each other.

This was taken in the entry way of St Edwards Catholic. Just 10 feet form the sanctuary where they married and 10 feet from the door to their future which they did not really know.
I am happy to say that one year latter they have both returned home to Rockford, and have been able to reestablish normal lives.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

In the spirit of Independance Day

Megan was 6 months old when our Aunt Linda sent her this cute little outfit. Now at 2.5 she'll be old enough to enjoy a parade. I can't wait for the sugar buzz. You know that they'll be candy thrown. It's not a parade without it.

An intern to help

Jennifer Adcock answered an ad I had on a jobs message board at Rock Valley College. My friend Jody at Hillside Studio in Freeport gave me this suggestion. As a graphic design major, Jennifer already knew Photoshop. In her spare time, she's a freelance illustrator/cartoonist. It's been a great working relationship and Julie Schildgen her professor said it would even count towards graduation.
You can find Jennifers personal blog on xanga.

Heidi Jentz, Connecting with your Insurance Needs

Heidi was looking for an updated portrait to use for an advertising campaign to run in the Rockford Register Star.

She has in the last 6 months joined the Broadmoor Agency and has already become one of their top agents. Previously Heidi spent 13 years working on the corporate side of American Family in Madison.

The strength of an Insurance agency like Broadmoor is that we have hundreds of different companies from which to draw. No 2 businesses are exactly alike and so it's easier to make comparisons when your not calling around to several different agencies. Heidi's background allows her to work in a Wide range of needs from the small one man entrepreneur to larger corporate businesses. They also handle personal lines of insurance.

. The Broadmoor Agency is located at 321 W. State. Rockford and can be reached at 815-965-6700. Find them online at Heidi is one of numerous agents on staff ready to help.

A Day to Dance

  A year ago I got one of those calls of "Could you just take a picture of our dancers at a practice." Having never done it I thought, sure and went straight to the book store to find magazines on dance.
That group of 9 led me to this group of over 109. Summer Henderson been teaching dance ever since she was a kid and has owned Studio 11 for 9 years. They were all lots of fun to photograph.

And we're almost married.

Dan and Michelle are almost the latest couple I've seen come to do their engagement session. Ted and Loi win that award for coming 4 days prior. (It was my first wedding in Rockford so I figured I better not forget anything.)
I had met Dan over a year ago at his brother Mikes wedding. I can't wait to see what the rest of theday has in store. They are even talking about bringing a "ladder" truck down from the Roscoe fire department where Dan works. Wait a second. Roscoe??? High rises??? in any event, it will make for some fun photos. You can see the rest of the images later next week.

 Selling snow to eskimos

Kristina Bouchard comes to me fresh out of realtor school with a warm personality ready to help you find your next home. Her personal drive to serve is what makes her say, "I'd be out there to help find anyone their next home, even if that meant trying to sell snow to eskimos." (That is after all what igloos are made of.)

She will be working with Tom McKiski Realtors here in Rockford at 4040 Charles St. To reach Kristina call Tom McKiski Realtors at (815) 398-0586 or direct at 979-5936

 Picture of the week (6/24-7/02)

Sisters make the best bridesmaids. It is often said that as you move or go through life your friends might change, but your family will always be there for you.
Kari, having been a marathon runner, knew white pumps were not the shoes for her on her wedding day. She and her sisters Kim and Kristen almost look like they are hanging out in the locker room instead of in the church fireside room.

If this is your wedding and you email me, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

On a side note, keep Kim in your prayers. She had a little "incident" with a motor cross bike on Friday, will get to spend more time talking to doctors than desired.

A little rain never scared off anyone

Josh and Jill have tried to get together more than once for their engagement session. Since Josh can work late it's tough to get outdoor portraits done on a weekday. Sunday was beautifully overcast (yes photographers think that way) until a downpour 45 minutes prior. Just start in the studio to play it safe and if need be we'll sit on towels in a favorite downtown river district location. You can see little rain drops on Jill, but you can tell she found someone else to pay more attention to.
I can't wait to see how much fun it will be in a couple weeks.

Hello and Welcome to story time

Every Thursday morning around 10 we would go to the downtown Rockford Library for story time. Mrs. Lois is the most animated person you ever did and perfect for the occasion. Sometimes there are 13 sometimes there are 3. We always start by clapping out our crazies. Today we had frog stories and frog songs and made frog puppets. For a complete listing of story time events go to their web site.

A great doctor to work with

Dr. Ashraf has been at Crusader Clinic for many years in the area of family practice. My wife Sara has been there as a registered dietitian for 3.5 years. He's one that listens very well to the patient and also to the rest of the staff and is good at referring to others when he can sense there is a need. He's also a member of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APNEA). Today he was in need of a business portrait for their site. He almost wasn't able to decide on his own which one he liked without his wifes permission. (A common complexity among men.) But has since reported that she definitely approved.

Two new things here

Adrienne came in for her senior pictures on Friday. I got to meet her sister Calvina last fall and you can find her picture in my senior section. They went to Rockford East This is my newest background thanks to Jennifer my intern. She's a graffic design major at Rock Valley College. Adrienne herself is an artist, and has sold some of her paintings in student art shows.

Congratulations Jason & April

Jason is the second Noe wedding I've done. To see Jennifer his sister and Mark her husband there in the wedding party doesn't surprise me either. As an outside observer of a family on a wedding day you don't always feel like you really know who it is your working with.
Today felt different.
Because I've had interaction with both sides of the family, it felt more like I was doing the photography for friends.
The ceremony was at Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Caladonia and Reception at the Moose in Belvidere.

 Picture of the week (6/16-6/23)

This was almost as close to outdoor photography as we could get. As you can see there is plenty of rain showing on the windows. There are a couple of things that make me like this image. The architecture just asks you not to place the two of them in the center. Also I remember how we tried it several different ways. Such as facing each other or kissing or closer up. XXXX had picked several choices to sit next to each other in the album, but after thinking about it thought one strong image on it's own might be better that 4 of the same size.

If this is your wedding and you email me before the week ends, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that day, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

Congratulations Lauren & Nathan

Every Couple wants an escape vehicle to leave from the church. The trend is the bigger the better. Just look at the stretch Hummers you can find. The 2 dads had a trick up their sleeve. A borrowed truck from Nathans work complete with "cans" tied to the bumper. No Lauren didn't get in. In the corner you can see the reel escape car, a red GTO convertible. A great alternative to the full size if you ask me.

The wedding was at Berean Baptist Church and reception was at CliffBreakers. They left the reception through sparklers and took an AAA limo to the untold honey moon destination.

An evening with Michael Reagan

 Michael Reagan, the son of former president Ronald Reagan was the keynote speaker for Rockford Rescue Missions annual spring outreach. His talk inspired us with stories of overcoming adverities, and also exerpts from his new book Twice Adopted. Michael Reagan’s life is much more than just an interesting story. It is a testimony of how Christ allowed him to find healing from many of the issues that confront our culture today.
The evidence of this here in Rockford at the Rescue Mission was summed up well by Brandon who gave testimony of how he thought he had his life together, and ended up at the mission, and has recovered to rebuild his life.
Liz Wilken, at 90 years old of Freeport, was given the Epiphany Award for her life time volunteer efforts.
The event was Co-sponsored with First Evangelical Free Church and WTVO17/FOX39, and MC'd by Allen Jones. You can hear Reagan locally on WNTA 1330am from 9-11pm.
Board of Directors included (Front L-R) Larry Johnson, Debbie Holcomb, Carol Klint, Michael Kalodimos, Jim Kitzmiller, Glenn Miller, Rich Farb, Sherry Pitney, Dave Koch.

Congratulations Rich and Jennifer

  What started out as a rainy day ended up to be a wonderful time to have a wedding. Rich and Jennifer married Saturday at Klehm Arboretum only a couple hours after lots of rain.

Your service was beautiful. It's great to see the Lord working in your relationship. Many times I think couples want to get married in a church with a minister because it's a great place to have pictures.


Picture of the week (6/08-6/15)   I got this idea from Joe Mikos in Oak Bluffs Maine. It's fun to surf the web and see what other photographers are up to.
 This could be one of my favorite ceremony photographs of all time. Every emotion ever shown in a wedding is captured right here. Kristin, has this soft look that says "Ryan I can depend on you." Her bridesmaids at the same time run the gamut from joyful smiles to tears of happiness. They got married last summer in Lake Geneva at Interlaken Resort.

If this is your wedding and you email me before the week ends, and tell me how the pictures make you feel about that moment, you get that image as a free 8x10 print!!!
So if you think you know whose wedding it is get them to send me an email!

Kids on a Mission

First and foremost I am glad that I was able to help with the support of the youth missions trip. Missions holds a special place in my heart because it was the first time I started to notice the difference in good photography. They had a bulletin board at church when I was young with all the missionaries. I was always drawn to the Logans in Sierra Leone. Their family looked so well together compared to the others. At that time I didn't know the 9 most common mistakes that could ruin a portrait.

Because of this, I have taken up photography and portraits as a way to use my gift. A portion of the proceeds from any portrait order from friends at First Free has been given back for missions. For those going on short term missions trips, a greater gift is given, and for those going into full time over seas work, it has been a complete gift.

  Pastor JT Bean and about 40 others from First Evangelical Free will be going to inner City Chicago with Center for Student Missions in August. Another group will be heading to New Orleans with kids around the world to build playgrounds

I got a national link back

 A while back I went looking for great photo slide show programs on line. I found 10 lackluster and one good (but more expensive by $200) one. The night after Adam was born I had to finalize it. That was a tough night. Both emotionally to see what had happened to me in the previous 24 hours, and physically as I stayed up too late figuring out the software that wouldn't match up to ShowItWeb. At 6 am I bought Show-It and went to bed 15 minutes later.

I believe testimonials are worth their weight in gold and sent ShowIt an email of what I thought.


The toy story at our home
Do you ever watch the movies and start to think there is more truth than fiction in the story? Saturday night, Pixars Toy Story was on. If you don't recall the basic premise, a little boys favorite toy Woody is replaced by Buzz Lightyear at a birthday party. Woodys friend Mr. Potato Head and the rest of the gang learn to deal with the new favorite.
What we watched just days earlier is our daughter Megan get a Mr. Potato Head and all of the sudden her babies aren't sleeping next to her.
We will wait to see how long Mr. Potato Head is there.

Shelter Care Ministries Spring Luncheon

 Brandon Haynes came in as the guest speaker from the D.C. area. The topic of the day was to address issues of homelessness. In Brandons circumstance, they had to move because of a problem with the bank and the mortgage. The school district didn't want to allow him in because he didn't fit their definition of "homeless."

Brandons persistence led to the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act and helped many other kids to be able to continue their schooling even when life hasn't seemed to be the most fair.

The event at Tebala drew a crowd of over 300 and was sponsored by RBC Dain Rauscher and Saint James Catholic Church. Rockfords mayor Larry Morrissey gave the introduction.

Shelter Care Ministries annual mystery dinner.

Thank you again who all who came out in support of Mayas House and Shelter Care Ministries. What a great night of who done it's as 500 of us tried to find out where the tiki had gone and why anyone would want to steal it. (And again, why was it that only the singing kids fell to the ground and not the pianist also.)

 The Bishop Museum proudly presents the unveiling of Your Tiki
Directed by Todd and Michele Bonzi of Bonzi Productions

Sponsored by
Northwest Bank

Rockford Health System
Bradley Gummow & The Gummow Group at Stifel Nicolaus

Cast of Characters
Terry Miller
Cassie Johnson
Nathan Rappa
Micah Rappa
Ben Bonzi
Chelsea Yates
Samantha Bonzi
Bradley Gummow
Michele Bonzi
Daniel Rappa
Doug Rappa
Claire Johnson
Madeline Rappa
Lauria Johnson
Amanda Barkdoll
Nicky Bertolino
Ned Burns
Lori Beach-Yates

Commercial does not have to mean Food

 I joined the Traders League of Rockford since it seemed like a cost effective way to bring in new business. The greatest part of it is that I've done projects I wouldn't have done otherwise.
Some of my favorites have were with Dave Marino for the Business Profile Magazine. I also photographed the interiors of homes for Ron Radicoski. The left is his own home built several decades ago long before the open floor plan was widely used. The second was on the Rockford parade of homes.

Hanson Engineering

 Another project that meant commercial but not food. The idea was to illustrate different aspects of Hanson Inc for their architectural, engineering and management services. Different projects include the new Pavilion at Swedish American Hospital, DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, the cloverleaf reconstruction at I-39 bypass 20 and bridge development in Rochelle.

Better Image Photography
In Rockford and the state line area
Scott Painter - Photographer
2703 N. Alpine
Rockford, IL 61114