Sunday, December 28, 2008

Studio is semi-closed this week (and last).

I hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas!!! My ears are still ringing from the squeals of delight when the kids saw what Santa delivered. It was a Norman Rockwell moment as we were standing in the upstairs hallway and my daughter was shouting "He brought the whole thing! He brought the whole thing!", referring to the mega-pack of the Rose Petal Cottage, and not just the cottage itself. And as she absorbed the joy, the front door opened, we peeked through the railing to the front door, and my parents walked in with a joyous "Merry Christmases". We could not have been merrier.

It was wonderful to peel my fingers off my keyboard and my eyes away from my monitor this past week. And, while I have squeezed in a few sessions this coming week because of family being in town and kids home from college, etc, I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm prioritizing family first this week. I'll answer calls and emails, but I'm going to try to keep editing and non-urgent things to a minimum. I know it'll be hard. I love knocking things off my to-do list. But, this week, the content of my to-do list has shifted a bit. Number 1 is family (and some very neglected household tasks). I'm sure you all understand. So, thanks. And enjoy your families as well. They grow up so fast.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all. Thanks for being a part of my life, and to each of you who have allowed me to share your joys of new babies, first birthdays, more birthdays, anniversaries, first communions, and Christmas, I truly thank you. I'm lucky to be blessed with such wonderful clients, many of whom have become friends.

To you, and to others who visit my blog, thank you. And have a Merry Christmas. While the holidays are busy, remember to focus on what matters... your families.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Greatest Gift

Have you ever noticed that the smile from a baby or small child can melt away a day's worth of stress? This little guy had the absolute BEST smile and so I thought I'd share it and hopefully his smile can melt away any of the holiday stress that's happening in your life. When you see a smile like this, so full of delight and pure joy, it just feels good. You think how sweet babies are, so unaware of the rush to get the right presents or enough presents or the ingredients for the Christmas feast, the clothes ironed and the hair done for Chrismas Eve services. All that matters to them is that they are loved. Isn't that the greatest gift of all?

Merry Christmas to everyone!

PS. Isn't this baby absolutely adorable????

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Frames

I have several new things to show... but one at a time. This isn't for suspense or any other good reason. The truth is that my priority is taking care of client proofs and orders, my family, and when I have the time, to show off new products. I just received a bunch of new framing corner samples today. So, as I was labeling them to get ready to hang, I had to take a picture. If I don't do it now, I never will. Here are some of them. There are some super cool ones. A lot more silver ones. And some super hip metallic corners that I initially thought weren't my thing. But then, I held one up in my very formal living room and went "ooooohhhhh".

So, come on by and take a look. Or, I hope everyone knows that I'm happy to bring the corners to you. It's so hard to tell when you're standing in a store or somewhere else to really know how it's going to look in your home. So, let me grab a bunch of corners, come by and we'll make sure that your framed portraiture gets the "ooooooohhhhhs" and "aaaaaaaahhhhhhhs" it deserves.

Monday, November 24, 2008


This is just one one a series of little miss "K" in her cutest winter coat making the cutest faces ever. My husband walked in while I was editing and he exclaimed "that's awesome". I've hardly had time to post to my blog, but I couldn't resist this one.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Little Red

I'm having so much fun editing this session. I just love little miss red. She's a little beauty. And how cute is her sweater! This is what I mean when I suggest solids with some texture.

This was a fun session. It's always fun to see what the parents do to make the kids laugh. :) This time, I was laughing, too.

I'm working on the rest, and they'll be up soon. We got some really great ones. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not a baby anymore!

How fast they grow up!! This little guy just celebrated his first birthday. Happy first birthday!!!! He was sooo interested in everything around him, and so curious and sweet. He came prepared with lots of toys. It was a fun session, because his mommy and daddy were fun too! We got some great shots of him playing. They'll be online soon!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Holiday Card Deadline

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline for holiday cards is coming up soon! It's Nov. 18th! So if you are interested in holiday cards, let me know as soon as possible. I have some stunning designs that are sure to impress.

Here are a few designs... I have MANY MANY MORE! :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cute Brothers

Aren't they? Just a quick peek at one of the shots. :) I'm working on the rest and they'll be up in the next day or so. :)

Okay, here's two. I couldn't resist the airplane shot.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The "S" Family

Seems like the busier that I get, the fewer sneak peeks I post. Here are two from a super fun family I shot recently. They were dressed in jewel tones that looked awesome, and they were such a fun group. The mom volunteers (a lot!) for Girls on the Run, which is having their race and gala this weekend!

I'm working on the rest of your session and will have them finished within the next few days!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Books - they're stunning!

I'm always on the lookout for new and awesome things. Maybe because I'm a really good shopper. I found these books, and they're awesome. What I love is that you pick the size, you pick the fabric for the cover to match your room or your personality. And the pages on this book are so thick they won't wrinkle or crease. And the actual photographs are adhered to the pages, so they look amazing.

These would make amazing holiday gifts for grandmas, grandpas, and even mommies and daddies.

Look how thick the pages are, and how perfectly the fabric wraps around the cover.

Here are some of the fabulous fabrics. Come by to see the swatches in real life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Three Fun Brothers

It's always really fun when you get to see a friend from the past. "J" and I went to high school together, and I was thrilled to get to photograph her family. Three boys! And they're all super adorable and fun. Even though we worked really hard, I had a great time with them. Here are a few from the session. There are a few other great ones of the three boys for your Christmas card.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"I found a lucky day"

Since things are so busy, I decided to treat my three year old to a mommy-son lunch date today. I want him to know that he's special, and that what he thinks and says is important. So, my goal was to go to Panera to hear what's on his mind.

I felt so blessed to be there with him as the lunch rush came tumbling in. All the folks in their khaki pants with their photo key cards dangling from their belt loops looked like they needed to eat and go. Quickly. I remember that feeling. I remember the photo badge that I was proud to wear for the job that I was so proud to have. And I certainly remember the 1:00 conference call that I needed to be back for because I was leading it.

Today, we were only rushed by my son's desire to eat enough of his sandwich to earn his half of the chocolate cookie we were going to share. As he ate his cookie, he exclaimed with delight "I found a lucky day!!!!". That's what he says when he sees a penny. A long time ago, the connection was made between finding a penny and having good luck. Since then, he doesn't find pennies; he finds lucky days. He climbed onto my lap as he finished the last of his chocolate cookie. I whispered into his ear how much I love him, and how much I enjoy talking to him.

Then he picked up his lucky day and we left to go back to life-as-usual. But, I was the one who felt lucky that I'd taken the time to spend time to focus on what matters: my son.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sneak Peek for the "R" Family

This is one of my favorite fields. The grasses are just gorgeous this time of year. And I just love how great the "R" family looks here. I think this could be an ad for Ralph Lauren.

I had such a great time with them. I was warned that they boys had the most forced smiles, but we got really silly and even told mom and dad to "go away", which I think they liked. Anyway, we had a great time, and got lots of great images. The rest will be up shortly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Style galore

I posted a bit ago about SPOIL ME! boutique. And, I think I'm addicted. Malvina brought some outfits and her daughter "G" to get some product shots of the clothes. And, of course, it doesn't hurt when the model is as super cute as "G". She has the best smile and the best laugh. Here are a few. And "G", look how great you look in the pink top with your hip "popped". I know it felt funky, but it looks so good. I could totally see these images in a magazine, couldn't you?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Girls on the Run McHenry County

It's not often that you hear of an organization whose mission really touches your heart.

I think back to my childhood, and I remember my loving parents. I also remember being 13 and one of my "best friends" would get mad at me for no apparent reason. She'd harass me on the phone as I begged for forgiveness, not quite even sure what mistake I'd made. I remember crying to myself. I still can feel the pain of the loneliness and rejection I felt, and the humiliation that I must not be a good friend. Finally, after a year of walking on eggshells and begging for her friendship, I had the courage to realize that SHE was the one who wasn't a good friend. I finally had the courage to walk away from the cruelty. But, it took too long to realize that I was the one who was fine. Unfortunately, it also took a major toll on my self-confidence.

Only when I grew up and talked to other women, did I realize that girls can be mean. Brutal, really. So many women have endured similar cruelty. And, sadly, we believe so much more what our friends say than what our parents say. Right? And, I'm so fearful that my daughter will someday go through the same thing, and as a parent, I'll be helpless to heal her wounds.

That's where Girls on the Run McHenry County enters. Girls on the Run McHenry County is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. Their curricula address all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being.

Their 2nd annual Gala by the Lake is Nov. 8th at the Historic Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake. Because I love what this organization is working towards, I've donated a session and a 16x20 to be auctioned off during the silent auction. So, if you're thinking of scheduling a session anyway, you might as well have it go towards a great cause. For more information about the Gala, the race, and the organization, go to

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sneak Peak for the "S" family

Happy 30th Anniversary to you! They wanted a family photograph for their happy anniversary. It was a nice change of pace to photograph some grown ups. Though, I had to joke with them that the mosquitoes made it tricky to get a shot without someone batting one way. Poor "R", who had several welts on her face before the night was through.

Here's one of the fun ones. There are plenty great ones of the grassy/nature variety, too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Last of the summer sessions

We were lucky to get a summer-like day. And what perfect outfits you chose. The color is so vibrant and fun, and really brings out their eyes! I had such a good time with you all. I'm sorry the mosquitoes got us at the end... I'm still scratching my ankles where they had a complete dinner. Here's one sneak peek. The rest will be up very shortly. Like in a few minutes. :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

SPOIL ME! boutique

You definitely will want to check out SPOIL ME! boutique. Malvina, the owner, has a awesome eye for style and picks out the cutest stuff. Just look at the vibrant color and her super hip displays. And it doesn't hurt when she carries brands like Free People and BB Dakota. Talk about cool factor. This is the kind of shop that you can pop into, always find the cutest and most unique things to wear out that night. I'm so excited. It's easy to see why Malvina has so many regular customers who stop be every few weeks to pick up something new.

The boutique is located inside Profiles Salon at 1106 N. Main (Route 31) in Algonquin, near the corner of Cary-Algonquin Rd. This past Wednesday night, she hosted a private party to benefit the McHenry County Women's Task Force / Breast Cancer. She also included Profile Salon, Infinity DaySpa, and Julie Monacella Photography (yep, me). It was a super fun time. Thanks Malvina for allowing me to be a part of your awesome event!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sneak Peek for the "O" Family

Here's just one sneak peek for the "O" family. I had fun with you at that night! Just wait until you see the ones by the stone steps. The lighting was as beautiful as your kids! :) Here's a fun one to tide you over until your proofs are up. It shouldn't be too much longer.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

On Friday, I got a call to photograph my first "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep" session. NILMDTS is a not-for-profit organization that I joined a little while back, after being inspired to reach out to provide photography (at no cost) for families who are about to lose a precious child. The organization was highlighted on The Today Show this spring. View the clip here.

My first experience was on Friday afternoon. My heart went out for the sweet and loving family of a beautiful little baby. Please say a prayer for them.

And, on a side note, if your proofs are a bit late, please be patient. I dropped everything to shoot and edit this very important session and I'm a bit behind schedule.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lil' Cowboy

Isn't he the cutest? I love his smile and his little vest. "A", I hope you don't mind that I included you here. I just loved the interaction.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crazy busy!

Just a heads up that my October is officially crazy busy. I may only be able to squeeze in one or two more sessions. I'm now booking into November, so if you're thinking of booking a session, please don't wait!

I hate saying 'no'. But, I'm also a mother of two little kids. And my daughter sometimes tells me that she wishes that I wasn't a photographer so I wouldn't have to work as much. How can I argue with that? They're only little once. It would break my heart to spend these precious young years capturing moments and memories for other families, only to realize that I've missed the precious moments in my own kids lives.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Face of an Angel

Doesn't she have the face of an angel? She's so pretty, and only 9 days old. Last time I photographed her, she was in her mommy's belly. Now she's a beautiful baby girl.

Baby "V"

I couldn't resist showing two from this session with Baby "V". Last time I saw her, she was just a newborn and now she's six months old. She's such a happy and beautiful baby. I know that the second image doesn't show her beautiful face, but there's something so graceful and dainty about her little fingers and toes that makes me love this image.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Peek at "K"

So, it's not a sneak peek, because they've already seen the proofs, but I had to post this image of sweet "K".

She gets the prize for the longest distance client. She lives in Zambia, Africa. She and her mom came from Zambia to visit her grandparents, who live in Cary. I was lucky enough to get be able to squeeze them into my busy schedule. I'm so glad it worked out, because it was so interesting to hear about their life and travels abroad. I was just fascinated by all the places and cultures they've experienced. K & K, I hope you had a safe trip back!

Someday, when the kids are safely on their own, I'd love to travel to remote places in the world and photograph children the way they live.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Career choices

From my five year old tonight at dinner: "When I grow up, I want to be an oceanographer.... what's an oceanographer?"

It cracked me up. Then I considered how many of us chose professions without ever understanding what they really are. Heck, I studied engineering at U of I in Champaign for four years, and then found out what REAL engineers did. Crazy. Kids are so innocent and so smart sometimes.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

On the cover

Many of you know that this spring a few of my images were selected for publication in Jim Miotke's new book. We were also told that in publishing, nothing is certain until the book hits the shelves. So, I'd have to wait until September to see what images actually made the cut.

Yesterday, on a whim, I checked amazon. It's still not published, but they're taking pre-orders. When the cover image popped up, I dropped my jaw. There is my image, "Nummy". The cutest baby with his fingers in his mouth, right there! I couldn't even speak. I was shaking with excitement. So much so that I was worried that I'd have shaky hands for my photo session in an hour!

It was double excitement because the photo to the right of mine was created by my good friend Alli Gaulin! I was so excited that I could hardly even find my phone, and dial, to call her. Unfortunately, I got her voicemail, and I couldn't even speak to leave a message.

Of all the tens of thousands of images that the editors and Jim see at, what are the odds that both of our images make the cover? Amazing.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The apple picker

Today, we went to Lang's apple orchard in Woodstock, IL. The kids loved hand picking the apples. Here's one of them. I added some grain to the image to give it more of a vintage feel. I like it a lot. I might even make a set of notecards from it.

I stink at naming photos, so I asked my daughter. She took one look and said "The Apple Picker". I love it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cary-Grove Seniors

Here are some super cool kids that I was lucky enough to hang out with one evening this summer. They're all seniors at Cary-Grove high school. We did mostly individual shots, but here are a few of the group ones that I thought were super fun. I'll be working on posting some videos and posts of each individual as I have some time. So, keep checking back!

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Here are two images of my "tindergartener". That's how she pronounced it when she was two years old. We'd drive by the school, and she'd exclaim, "That's my tindergarten!" She wasn't even in preschool then.

This week, my first baby went to kindergarten. She was so very excited on her first day. She marched confidently into the school, and turned the wrong way down the hall. I stood outside peeking into the window and watched and waited for her come back and go in the right direction. She didn't. I finally went in with visions of her wandering the halls upset that she couldn't find her locker. This wasn't how her first day was supposed to go. After a few minutes of searching, I couldn't find her. So, I went to her locker, and there she was. Right where she should be, happily putting her new backpack away. She found her way. All by herself.

I'm sure this won't be the first time that I let her go, watch her make a mistake, and see her find her way all by herself. I'm so proud of my baby girl.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekends in the fall are filling up FAST!

I just wanted to give a heads up that my weekends in September and October are filling up rather quickly. I've had numerous inquiries recently, and I'm giving out the same open dates to everyone. So, if there's a specific date you want, please call now. I'd feel terrible if it was booked before you had a chance to tell me you wanted it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Second Place!

I learned today that my image of baby "V" entitled "Adorable" went beyond the finalist stage, and was awarded a 2nd place prize. Hurray!!! So, out of 22,900 images that were entered, 481 finalists were awarded in all the categories. Then, from these 481 finalists, they select the actual winners. There is a single first place winner, and 10 2nd place winners in the people category. Pretty cool, hugh?

Click here to follow the link to see all the winning images.

I really love what I do... but it's even more fun when I get to work with such nice and adorable families. So, thanks to the "S" family, who live all the way in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for bringing in your super sweet family. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Someone else loves this image, too

This week, I found this message in my inbox:

"Congratulations! You have placed as a finalist in this month's BetterPhotoContest! Over 22,900 photos were entered into the competition; it is an honorto have your image selected among the top 481 finalist photos."

I was also pretty excited because the busier I get, the less often I enter. This particular month, I only entered two images. The month before that, none.

I already thought this image of this little guy was so super adorable, but now the judges at Better Photo agree.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I love this barn!

I've been dreaming about this barn for two years. I'm not kidding. I drive past this barn almost every day, and every time I think "I've got to ask permission to take photos there". But, I never do. I keep kicking myself and looking for new locations, but never ask about this most beautiful barn and property. Today I did.

I was out with a girlfriend taking pictures of our four kids. I asked permission, and the owner, the nicest gentlemen, said 'yes'. I really wanted to take his image, because he had such character. His face, what he was wearing, everything. I would have loved to capture him in his element. But, unfortunately, he's allergic to photographs. His words. Funny, right? So, as we walked around his property, I was just stunned at the amazingness of it. I just love it. Here is a sneak peek of Harry's barn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sneak Peak for the "H" family

I love showing up to a session and finding out that I recognize the family. Turns out this family goes to St. Barnabas Christian Preschool also. Aren't they just the cutest family? They're lucky to have three sweet girls. Since I'm one of three girls, there's a special place in my heart for sisters. And these girls are lucky to have two of them. Nothing against boys or brothers, of course. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Maternity Sneak Peek

I haven't really done many maternity sessions. So, I was ecstatic when this beautiful mom-to-be called. She had some great ideas, and was totally open to try some new things. I can't wait to show her the rest, because she just looks so beautiful in all of them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sneak Peak

Here's one more sneak peek! These two little ones were so cute! Thank you to the "A" family for allowing me to photograph your super nice family! I had fun at the park with you, and hope you had some fun too!