65 PHOTOS THAT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO VISIT SOUTH AFRICA

Confession. I wasn’t sure this travel post was ever going to make it on the blog. When we left for our winter trip in February, I had a system in place. I was going to blog our photos in real time (well, close to it). But then afternoons at outdoor patios, cage diving with great white sharks (yes, we are crazy!), road trips along the South African coast and wine tasting in Stellenbosch took over, and editing my photos took the back seat to enjoying the moment … which is the point of traveling, isn’t it?!

Coming back just weeks before busy season, I thought these photos would have a destiny like my Chiang Mai photos (stuck forever on my laptop, unedited), but I have been dreaming of South Africa non-stop. I keep thinking about how amazing Cape Town is, how I long for king protea flowers, and how I miss seeing rocket on the menus everywhere (so much, that I snagged some at Trader Joe’s this week). If I could have jumped on a plane and been back at our little apartment in Mouille Point, I would have.

Instead, I spent late nights on the couch editing the photos from a place that makes my heart full. Phil and I are so blessed to travel for as long and as much as we do. We have been to exotic countries, beautiful beaches and bustling cities, but South Africa without a doubt is my favorite of them all. Why? Here are 65 photos that will only tease you with the magic of South Africa.

South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0004 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0003South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0027 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0010South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0072 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0052 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0022 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0013 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0017 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0021 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0005 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0040 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0046 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0061 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0067 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0062 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0028 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0030South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0015 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0034 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0031South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0033 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0025 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0023 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0020 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0019 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0016 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0012 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0035South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0049South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0068South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0060 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0048South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0038 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0039 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0045South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0029 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0055South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0051 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0066 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0069 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0064 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0050 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0042South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0053 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0032 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0024South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0056 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0018 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0036 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0043South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0044 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0041 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0054 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0070 South Africa Cape Town Travel Photos_0002

Want to see more of South Africa …. visit my blog post from our safari in Kruger National Park.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // june

obsessions_june15

1. TIGER EYE PENDANT // Whenever we travel, I always try to bring back at least one piece of jewelry to remember our trip. I snagged a tiger eye pendant (their national stone) when we were in South Africa, and it has been my favorite piece of jewelry. It is perfect for laying or wearing on its own.

2. OLIVE CROCHET FRINGE VEST // I have been trying not to shop much, but when I saw this olive crochet fringe vest, I knew it would have a permanent home in my closet. My current favs – fringe, olive, and crochet all in one clothing item. :)

3. INSTAGRAM // My FAVORITE social media outlet there is …. yes, is instagram. As a creative and a curator, the pretty square boxes fill me with so much happiness and inspiration. It is my go-to app on my iPhone when I have a moment of time to kill (yes, including commercial breaks between Modern Family.)

4. MODERN FAMILY // If you are not watching this show … you are missing out. I laugh out loud through the whole 30 minutes, and I still cannot pick my favorite character because I love them all. (But maybe Phil? or Cam? … )

5. CLIFTON // I feel like this is an obvious one, but ever since I saw the photos of our furbaby when he arrived, I have been completely in love with him. While it is non-stop chasing him around and cleaning up after him, the puppy kisses, the morning snuggles, and his excitement when I walk in the door, makes my heart flutter.

Is there something you are loving this month? Leave it in the comments below so I can check it out.

IMAGE CREDITS // tiger eye via etsy // vest via nordstrom // clifton by brittany bekas photography

Brittany XO Signature 2

MEET CLIFTON // mini goldendoodle

My heart is bursting at the seems to share some photos of the new love in my life. Friday, Phil and I drove down to Peoria to pick up this little guy from Paw Pad Goldendoodles … the most amazing breeders. The past few days have been full of restless nights of sleep, constant cleaning of accidents in the house, and telling him “no” what feels like a million and one times.

He gets into everything, and I am terrified he is going to chew up everything in our house  or eat something he shouldn’t that I cannot leave his side for more than 3 minutes. But the snuggles on the couch, the puppy kisses, and THIS FACE … well, it makes it all worth it. Clifton entered our lives and filled an emptiness that I didn’t even know I had. MEET CLIFTON.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0021 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0011 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0025Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0030

We knew Clifton was our puppy when we went to meet him at 6 weeks when he kissed me as Phil was photographing us together. That kiss sealed the deal, and I knew he was our guy. The two weeks we waited for him were torture.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0019Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0026

My parent’s Westie, Bentley, wasn’t thrilled to have Clifton at the house, but he has been teaching Clifton things like walking up the stairs, where to go potty, and how to sneak his little butt up on the top of the couch.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0010 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0017 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0018

Clifton is an F1b mini goldendoodle from the Paw Pad Goldendoodles. His dad, Levi, is a mini poodle and his mom, Emme, is a standard goldendoodle.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0020 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0024 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0013Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0022Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0027

We named Clifton after our favorite beach in South Africa, Clifton Beach. We knew we wanted to name our first puppy after one of our favorite travel destinations, so when we fell in love with South Africa, we knew his name would remind us of the country we love so much.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0002 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0005Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0007 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0029

Having a puppy has been such an amazing experience. I am not going to lie, it is hard to get mad at this face. And when he cries because he doesn’t want to sleep in his crate, I might cave in more than Phil. I just want to cuddle this little fluff ball all day and night long.

Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0014
Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0023 Clifton the Mini Goldendoodle - Paw Pad Goldendoodles_0003

 

Don’t worry …. there will be lots more photos of this guy gracing the blog now. For some behind-the-scenes photos of life with Clifton be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Brittany XO Signature 2

10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT SPRING

Should we get engagement photos taken - Brittany Bekas Photography_0014

1 | trees full of pretty blooms

2 | the smell of fresh cut grass

3 | tulip buds popping out of damp soil

4 | the lingering smell of rain after a rain shower

5 | outdoor patios and dining al fresco

6 | dusting off my sunnies and wearing them on a regular basis

7 | driving with the windows down

8 | sun kissed afternoon walks

9 | flirty dresses and open-toed shoes

10 | the promise of summer

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // april

 

obsessions - april 2015

1. PINK MAGNOLIA TREES // Swoon. These are my favorite trees to watch in the spring because of how GORGEOUS they look when they bloom. I took a little walk around the neighborhood yesterday, and the trees are budding and the flowers are starting to bloom. Yay! When I have a yard someday, it will be covered in these.

2. NUTELLA // I LOVED nutella for years. I would eat it every.single.day. to the point where I just couldn’t look at it. Since arriving in Europe, Nutella is back in my life. I’ve been snagging the little packets and eating for them breakfast and then for afternoon snacks with any pretzels / cookies I can get my hands on.

3. ZEBRAS // Yes, zebras. I’ve always liked them, but seeing them in the wild in South Africa … well it made me love them. While everyone on our safari was excited for lions and elephants, I was giddy when we spotted zebras. They are stunning and a dream to photograph.

4. KILLING FOR PROFIT // I first learned about this book from our safari guide. It is a detailed look at the horrors of killing rhinos for their horns and other poaching that happens throughout Africa. It is heartbreaking, and I haven’t been able to put it down. If you are looking for an interesting (and educational) read, this should be your next one.

5. TOMS // These little canvas shoes have been an excellent addition to my wardrobe especially when we travel. They are casual, comfy AND cute. If you don’t have a pair, get ’em.

Is there something you are loving this month? Leave it in the comments below so I can check it out.

IMAGE CREDITS // zebra + magnolia tree by brittany bekas photography // NUTELLA // TOMS via nordstrom

Brittany XO Signature 2

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK SOUTH AFRICA SAFARI PHOTOS

My obsession with going on an African safari started back in the 90’s. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit ran a behind-the-scenes special on the making off the issue, and the team traveled to Africa and went on a safari. I remember watching and becoming completely infatuated with Africa, and I knew I HAD to make it there at some point. A safari in Africa was one of the top things on my travel bucket list.

So, when Phil suggested we head to South Africa this winter, I was thrilled! We chose to spend 3 nights at Kruger National Park and experience our first safari with Robbie from Nhongo Safaris (He is the BEST!). The whole experience was a dream. Phil and I have traveled quite a bit over the last few years, however this experience, hands down, was and will forever be my favorite. Not sure why? Here are 43 photos that will make you want to book a plane ticket, head to South Africa and experience a safari.

Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0043 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0046 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0015 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0025 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0053 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0059 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0018Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0028Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0051Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0017 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0009Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0061 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0008 Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0060Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0021Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0026Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0027Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0033Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0055Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0051Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0006Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0042Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0030Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0054Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0031Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0035Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0056Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0020Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0023Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0019Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0057Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0017Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0022Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0049Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0007Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0011Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0062Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0034Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0041Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0037Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0012Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0016Kruger National Park Safari Photos South Africa Safari Photos_0013

 

Brittany XO Signature 2

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES PHOTOS

When I first left corporate America three years ago, travel was a huge priority to me. I was sick of watching Anthony Bourdain explore the world from my couch and tired of pinning another gorgeous, exotic landscape to my Pinterest “Bucket List” board. Seeing, viewing, and learning about the world from Chicago wasn’t working. I had an appetite (and a little push from Phil) to get out there and document it for myself. So, I did. Welcome, #wanderlust.

Phil and I are about two weeks into our current three continent trip, and every morning when I wake up in a foreign land, I cannot help but feel so blessed and alive. We have already experienced so many amazing things during this trip that I cannot wait to share. I am doing my best to photograph as much of what we are seeing / eating / trying as possible and share it on the blog. But be sure to follow along on instagram to see snaps in live time. :) I haven’t been editing and sharing quite as quickly as I had hoped. :)

Our first stop was Abu Dhabi. We only had two full days to take in the culture of the Middle East, but we managed to sneak in a lot. Here is a little look at ABU DHABI!

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0001 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0005 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0003 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0002 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0004 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0009

All of the guidebooks suggested a visit to the Emirates Palace Hotel even if you were not staying there. We opted to walk the Corniche there (which was a nice (long) walk – with lots of photo taking). The hotel is stunning on the outside and pretty grand on the inside.

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0006 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0007 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0008Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0033 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0012

I really wanted to photograph the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque once I saw it when I was planning our trip, and it was just as magnificent as it appeared in the images I saw. It might be one of the most beautiful places of worship that I have ever visited.

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0010 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0035 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0036 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0014 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0013

The mosque is HUGE. During Eid it can be visited by more than 40,000 people!

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0015 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0016Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0011 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0037 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0032 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0031 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0017

One of my favorite things to do when we travel is visit the local markets (hello, shopping!). We wandered the local souks and tasted some delicious local dates.

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0018

We made friends with Sadiq, one of the owners of the date stalls, while we were shopping. He let us sample the dates, and was so kind to give us a container to bring home. My favorite were the chocolate covered dates. :)

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0019 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0020

And no trip to the Middle East could be complete without a trip to the desert.

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0021 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0025 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0027 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0028

It was a pretty windy day, so the sand was blowing everywhere. I definitely had sand coming out of my ears and scalp for days, but it was such an incredible experience. Everywhere you look is dunes and dunes of sand.

Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0023 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0024 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0026 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0030 Abu Dhabi Photos Brittany Bekas Photography International Photographer_0029

 

Heading to Abu Dhabi? Or want to know more about where we stayed / what we did / what not to miss? Leave me a message in the comments below, and I would love to tell you more. Until then …. #wanderlust.

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

 

20 QUESTIONS

Growing up, did you ever have one of those notebooks filled with questions that you passed around to all your friends? I did. It was a Saniro Keroppi frog notebook, and I would pack it in my backpack and pass it off to all my friends to fill out during class. I remember getting it back at the end of the day full of stickers and different color pen marks highlighting their favorite song, what they wanted to be when they grew up, who their movie star crush was.

I thought it was so cool. Like really cool. I officially knew everything about all my friends and it was all in one precious notebook. Maybe I just liked the idea of seeing different answers to the same questions or how I could learn about each person through a combination of random questions. Either way, I thought it was cool, and I still do. So in honor of Keroppi (who was totally the coolest of the bunch), I’m answering 20 random questions.

Brittany Bekas Photography - Chicago Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer

1. What is the best gift you have ever received? When I was in high school, my parents bought me a Nikon film camera for Christmas. I was just starting to get into photography, and I LOVED that camera. I still use it when I shoot film. Years later, Phil surprised me with my first “real” lens – my 24-70mm f2.8. It was this gift that pushed me to start my business and live this life.

2. What is the best advice your mom gave to you? Always be nice to everyone you meet. You never know when your paths might cross again.

3. What is on your kitchen counter? A soda stream and a bowl of bananas … always.

4. Have you ever been a member of a club? Lots, but I totally started my own Ghostwriters Club complete with meetings, cool pens, and hip notebooks.

5. What is on your feet right now? Sand. Jealous?

6. What splurge is well worth it? Travel. I have never returned from a trip and wished I wouldn’t have gone.

7. Do you have any pet peeves? People who don’t write thank you cards. I blame my mom for years of writing them as a kid, but a handwritten note goes such a long way.

8. What is one thing you wish you’d known when you were younger? That everything usually works out how it is supposed to.

9. What is on your perennial to-do list? Printing my personal photos.

10. What are the last three items on your credit card statement? Our South African safari, a sushi dinner and a dress from Nordstrom.

11. What item in your closet do you wear the most? My black leather motorcycle jacket from Florence. It was such a splurge, but it is my favorite piece I own because it fits like a glove.

12. What quote do you live by? “What’s meant to be always finds a way.”

13. What app do you use the most often? Instagram + VSCO

14. What kind of sickness have you lied about so you didn’t have to go to work? When I worked in corporate America, I once told a boss I had pink eye so I could go to an interview. I totally rubbed my eyes for 30 minutes before going back to the office. Geeze …. I mean who does that?!

15. What is your perfect pizza? It is loaded with cheese and lots and lots of vegetables

16. If you could be any age for a week, what age would you be? 75 – I think when you are in your 70’s you have a pretty good idea about life, what is important, and you know a ton of life lessons. I’d be nice to have some of that insight for a week.

17. What is your favorite city? In the U.S., I love San Fran. Internationally, it would have to be Cape Town.

18. Have you ever been stung by a bee? Yes. Twice. Once a bee was caught in my hair and it stung the corner of my eye (let me tell you, it wasn’t a good look for me … or anyone for that matter), and another time a bee stung my hand during a photo shoot. I was a little freaked out about it, but I kept my cool until the shoot ended and then I called my mom … and panicked.

19. Are you afraid of heights? Yes, yes, yes. I am pretty much terrified (with a capital T) of heights, but if you put a camera in my hand, you can push me a little.

20. Do you collect anything? Vintage cameras, jewelry from every country I travel to and postcards and ornaments from our trips.

Have a question you would like to know? Leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer it on the next edition. Or share a little about yourself in the comments below. I’d love to get to know you better.

 

PHOTO CREDIT // cassandra photo

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // february

obsessions_feb15

1. HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP // I snagged one of these at Home Goods a few weeks ago, and well, I am obsessed. In my hippie-mindset, it really has healing properties (I swear it cured my stuffy sinus when I couldn’t breathe, I swear.) And if it is just a placebo, I’m cool with that too because it is so pretty to look at. Add one to your house asap.

2. NATURE’S VALLEY GRANOLA BAR // I hadn’t eaten these in years, and I bought the huge box at Target so that I could pack them for our trip, and I was totally snacking on them days before we left. Now that we are in Abu Dhabi, it is my go-to snack. Yummy!

3. OLIVE GREEN // When I decide I like something, I can go overboard. Like when I needed safari clothing for my upcoming trip to South Africa, I suddenly ended up with a head-to-toe olive green jumpsuit (olive pants, jacket, tank, oh and that fall in line Essie nail polish) because, I cannot stop buying the olive green option.

4. BEANIES // I am actually surprised this little gem didn’t make a previous post because I have been wearing it non-stop since I bought it back in November. It is the perfect hat for Chicago winters, terrible hair days and long airplane rides. Yes, it even made the cut for my minimalist bag for our trip.

5. LOVE IT OR LIST IT, TOO // I seriously LOVE design shows. HGTV is my jam. For real. And while, I really only watch the show for the make-over, I still cannot stop tuning in. Plus Jillian is the cutest!

What cannot you not get enough of this month? Let me know so I can check it out.

IMAGE CREDITS // HIMALAYAN SALT LAMP // NATURE’S VALLEY // OLIVE GREEN JACKET via H&M // BEANIE via NORDSTROM // LOVE IT OR LIST IT TOO 

Brittany XO Signature 2

START / STOP / CONTINUE // feburary

Well … well … well. It is February 9th …. and I am JUST posting my monthly goal / start / stop /continue list. Bad, blogger Brittany. I wish I had a good excuse for my delay, but really, I was just avoiding blogging for a few days. Phil and I have been in full-on trip prep for our South Africa / Europe trip (one week from tomorrow …. I’ll be in route!) that I sorta slacked on my daily blog post to flip through guide books and plan all the amazing locations I am going to shoot for an upcoming personal project I am working on. Despite that I am only hitting publish on this post today, I’ve wrote this list at the end of January, so I really have been working on these things for the last 9 days …. well maybe minus the last one. :(

// START 

1. Going to bed earlier // I have gotten into a bad habit. I stay up way too late … and then I sleep in way too late. I’ve always been a night owl (and sometimes it means I am getting loads of work done), but I need to structure my day like a normal person with regular hours. READ : 2 AM bedtimes should not happen regularly.

2. Cooking more meals // I feel like I maybe shouldn’t have included this for this month since we will be out of the country for two weeks, but I really want to start making more “meals”. It’s not like Phil and I eat frozen pizza and mac and cheese all the time (only … some … some of the time), but our dinners regularly consist of sandwiches, paninis, soups. Sometimes I wish I was more ambitious with making a warm, home-cooked meal.

// STOP

1. Feeling like I always have to be busy // I swear this runs in my blood. My whole family (including grandma, aunts, cousins, etc) is like this. While I’d rather be busy, I need to allow myself to lay on the couch (with a good book or my journal!) and pretend my constant to-do list doesn’t exist for a few hours … sans guilt.

2. Stalking the Paw Pad Goldendoodles website + Facebook page // WE ARE GETTING A PUPPY! I totally intended on announcing that in a cuter way once he was picked out and named, but I really, seriously need to stop visiting this website. Our little dude isn’t arriving until the spring when we are back in Chicago, however I literally look at the website every.single.day. Oh boy! I’m out of control.

// CONTINUE

1. Reading a book instead of watching tv // One of my start / stop / continue goals for 2015, is to read more and watch less “bad” tv. I’ve been shutting off the TV and picking up my Kindle if I find myself searching for something to watch. I read The Woman I Wanted to Be and Switching Time … two books last month, so I want to keep it up and hit my goal of 24 books this year. Any reccos, friends? I’m always up for suggestions. :)

2. Blogging in advance // I killed it in January. I pre-blogged nearly every blog post, and it felt amazing. Because this week, I didn’t have my posts prepared, and well, it was harder to get back at it. Just like in school, I need to have a rough draft prepped before my deadline, so I just need to do some proofing, and I can hit publish.

What’s on your START / STOP / CONTINUE this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // january

Brittany Bekas Photography // Obsessions January

1. ESSIE NAIL POLISH in FALL IN LINE // This is the latest addition to my ESSIE collection, and I cannot stop wearing it. It is my winter Turquoise and Caicos. And BTW, have you seen this amazing color collection? Yes, I might need to add a few to my collection.

2. GREEN TEA  // I’ve never acquired a taste for coffee, but you can always find me drinking tea … especially green tea. My mom tucked a box of Bigelow tea in my stocking for Christmas, and I just loved the variety pack. My new favorite is green tea with mango.

3. GIVING KEY NECKLACE // The Giving Keys is a company that employs people transitioning out of homelessness in Los Angeles to make key necklaces and other jewelry out of repurposed keys. All the keys have a message on them, and I cannot stop wearing my CREATE one, a gift from my mom, every time I need inspiration. If you are looking for a great gift idea, this is it. Seriously.

4. SOUTH AFRICA // In just 3 weeks, Phil and I will be landing in Cape Town, South Africa for 3 weeks of beaching, safaris, wine tasting, and exploring. I have been stalking blogs and reading all the guidebooks about this gorgeous country. I cannot wait to finally see all the places on my list and to start my South Africa photo collection. Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all the behind the scenes.

5. TRADER JOE’S DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SALTED CARMEL TRUFFLES : Yes, all of these things are in ONE truffle. Does this even need an explanation as to why I LOVE them. Hello, heaven in a gold wrapper.

IMAGE CREDITS  //  GREEN TEA // GIVING KEY // SOUTH AFRICA // TRADER JOE’S

Brittany XO Signature 2

10 BOOKS I READ AND LOVED in 2014

It all started when the public library would offer those summer reading contests. Do you remember these? Read a certain number of books and then you would get a free ticket to Six Flags Great America. I wanted that ticket to Six Flags … bad. So I read and read and read some more. It was bribery … but it got me reading, and since then I’ve been hooked on books.

I did a LOT of reading in 2014. It was one of my major goals and with all the travel we did, I managed to read a ton (hello, reading at the beach might be one of my favorite hobbies, ever.). Plus, I’m a pretty fast reader (or so I like to think) – especially when I have a page-turner in my hands.

Here are 10 books I read in 2014 … and LOVED.

 10booksiloved

I am Malala // Malala Yousafzai

Unbroken // Laura Hillenbrand

Steal Like An Artist // Austin Kleon

#GIRLBOSS // Sophia Amoruso

The Fault In Our Stars // John Green

Picture Perfect Posing // Roberto Valenzuela 

Where She Went // Gayle Forman

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? // Mindy Kaling

The Cuckoo’s Calling // Robert Galbraith

Orange is the New Black // Piper Kerman

But if you aren’t really into reading, and you are only going to read three books this year, read Unbroken, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and I am MalalaThey will not disappoint.

What books did you read last year that were AMAZING? I’m always looking for recommendations.

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

 

2015 START / STOP/ CONTINUE LIST

Things have been rather quiet on my blog since the holidays. I opted to take a few days off to just focus on friends and family after a whirlwind of a year. I’ll be recapping 2014 this week, so we can relive what a year it has been together (and WHAT a year it has been!). However, I wanted the first post of 2015 to be forward-thinking. Positive energy. Excitement.

Now you guys know, I pretty much LOVE lists. Grocery lists, to-do lists, goal lists, packing lists …. they all make my heart sing with joy. Rather than write down some resolutions, I put together a START / STOP / CONTINUE list. Yes, I know, technically these are resolutions, but they feel more attainable (in my mind, at least) written down this way.

99da75a9802e1eca1ebebcfc586d5813

I have a pretty hefty list (along with a lot of other goal lists for 2015) but here are just a few things on my START / STOP / CONTINUE list.

// START 

1. Taking more photos of my personal life //  This includes friends, family, and what I ate for dinner. Document. it. all. And then do something with those photos. Hello, photo albums and frames.

2. Waking up earlier //Don’t hate me, but I pretty much never use an alarm clock (perk of self-employment).  I let my body decide when I should wake up, however I want to get back into a pattern of waking up early, getting a morning routine established, and structuring my day.

3. Journaling more (or at all) // I used to do this all the time and then I started this blog, and I pretty much stopped. So I picked up this Q&A – 5-Year Journal to get me going again.

4. Drinking more water // Eight 8 oz glasses a day would be the goal. But anything above 2 would be an improvement. I just am never thirsty enough to be reaching for more.

 

// STOP

1. Comparing myself to others // This is always a hard one for some reason. I look at others’ success and want it. I see friends at different points in their lives, and I long to be there too. I sometimes think my photos are not what they could be. It is all negative. And I’m trying to eliminate the negative this year.

2. Watching pointless TV shows // Crime shows and Modern Family are NOT included in this because those are fan-tastic. I’m thinking Keeping up with the Kardashians and maybe Millionaire Matchmaker. 

3. Talking about working out – I put it on my calendar. I say I am going to start hitting the gym or joining a fun class … and then…. nothing. If talking about exercising burned calories, I would be winning … big time … but it doesn’t.

4. Making excuses – Just admit why it happened … and move on. Misplacing blame changes nothing.

 

// CONTINUE

1. Reading – I read 22 books this year (blog post to come on some of my favorites), and I felt SO good about it. Sure, a lot of the books came off the books-being-made-into-movies list … but the book is ALWAYS better than the movie and it gave me a timeline to get the book read.

2. Saving money – I love seeing those $ adding up. It is nice to have a rainy day and travel fund set aside especially when last minute getaways pop up.

3. Making the bed every morning – It only takes 2 minutes, and it really makes our bedroom look so much better. And I’d so rather get back into it at night when it is a pretty made bed (5 pillows and all) vs a crumpled mess of blankets. Duh.

4. Traveling – I visited 5 countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grand Cayman and the Dominican Republic) in 2014. We are planning out our travel schedule for 2015, and I cannot wait to document our next adventure.

 

What’s on your START / STOP / CONTINUE list this year?

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

 

 

OBSESSIONS // december

obsessions_dec14

1. REBECCA MINKOFF MAB TOTE // I treated myself to this beauty after hitting one of my business milestones, and I am totally smitten with it. It was supposed to be a “business meeting” bag, but I have been toting it everywhere with me (don’t tell my accountant).

2. NATE BERKUS GOLD SHEARS // My bestie, Christine (of Christine Janda Design and Events) got me these fabulous scissors for my golden birthday, and well besides being super pretty to look at, they have made packaging up my clients’ books and all my holiday gifts super easy. Love them.

3. DENIM BUTTON DOWN WITH LEGGINGS // I know everyone was rocking this look last year, but I just never felt like it was my style. But with the right boots, jewelry and beanie, I feel like I am ready for Wicker Park. My new go-to “creative” look – as Phil likes to call it.

4. FRESH LOBSTER // It is lobster season in Grand Cayman … meaning if you can catch ’em, you can eat ’em. So when my lobster hunting boyfriend brought home some huge lobsters, we had an amazing dinner. Yeap, he is a keeper (not just for this reason of course!)

5. UNBROKEN // If you haven’t picked up this book, you should  especially before seeing the movie that is now in theaters. You will be in disbelief to think that one man could endure everything he did …. such an inspiring book. And face it, the book is ALWAYS better than the movie (Sorry, Angelina…. I’m sure the movie is great too.)

IMAGE CREDITS  //  REBECCA MINKOFF MAB TOTE // NATE BERKUS GOLD SHEARS // DEMIN SHIRT via TARGET 

Brittany XO Signature 2

20 QUESTIONS

I’ve been a bit of a bad blogger lately. Ok, pretty bad …. especially when it comes to some more personal posts. I have no problem getting the latest session or wedding up, but when I don’t have that on the schedule, well, I can be uninspired to come up with something to share … especially about myself. :(

So when I stumbled on a monthly article in Marie Claire that has celebs answer 20 questions, I thought it could be a fun additional to the blog.

1. What brings you the greatest joy? Exploring new places and photographing them.
2. What is the best advice you’ve been given? Be nice to everyone you meet. You never know when you might cross paths again… It is so true but even more true since I started my business.
3. What issues are you most passionate about? Human trafficking and sex slavery. It breaks my heart that this is so prevalent today.
4. What is not to be missed on tv? Any crime shows but especially How to Get Away with Murder and Criminal Minds.
5. What is on your bucket list? A safari through Africa.
6. Who do you follow on social media? Lots of people but my favs are on Instagram – @jasminestar, @promisetangeman, @sugarpaperla, @25Park, @kennethtan
7. What do you wish someone would invent? More hours in the day. 24 is just too short.
8. What book had a profound effect on you? I am Malala. If you haven’t read it, read it. It was so emotional and made me beyond grateful to have the possibilities that we have for women in America.
9. Do you have a secret talent? I am an expert organizer. Closets, drawers, cabinets. I spend my days off organizing everything.
10. What irrational fears do you have? Fear of heights (mostly of falling when I am every where high.)
11. Who is your girl crush? Sophia Bush
12. What are your vices? Blue Moon and anything chocolate.
13. Of the seven deadly sins, which are you guilty of? At some point, probably all of them but envy and lust. As a creative you see others success and you want the same for yourself.
14. What would be your last meal? Hm this is so tough. A surf and turf combo but only with a twice baked potato and plenty of bread.
15. Favorite store? A tie for Target and Nordstrom … followed by Trader Joes. If I only had these three stores, I would be ok. :)
16. Favorite hotel? 99 Gallery in Chiang Mai. I just loved how it was decorated and it has the most amazing view of the Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn.
17. How did you make your first dollar? Probably a lemonade stand if you are being technical. Otherwise selling nachos and sodas at the local summer pool.
18. What should every woman try at least once in her life? Something you are completely terrified of.
19. How would you like to be remembered? For being authentic, real and creative.
20. What do you wish you had more time for? Journaling. It is such a great release for me but I never do it anymore.

Have a question you would like to know? Leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer it on the next edition.

Brittany XO Signature 2

GIFT IDEAS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

If I wasn’t a photographer, I think I’d make an excellent professional shopper. One time, I walked into Home Depot to pick up a can of gold spray paint, and I walked out with soil, terrarium food, terracotta pots … oh and NINE cacti. (I would have purchased more, but nine already getting a little crazy for someone living in an apartment in Chicago). You can take me ANYWHERE – Ikea, Trader Joe’s or a tupperware party, and I am walking out with a shopping bag. I’m on my way to Confessions of a Shopaholic.

So, with the holidays around the corner, I put together 15 gift ideas specifically for photographers. Yes, photographers actually like getting gifts that are photo related (and if they don’t, send it my way because I do.).

Gift ideas for photographers

FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER …..

1. WHO LIKES TO BE DIFFERENT : Holga 120N Plastic Camera

2. WHO LOVES TO DECORATE : Some photo themed artwork for their home like this or this or this

3. WHO LOVES THEIR IPHONE : Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for iPhone

4. WHO LOVES TO TRAVEL : JOBY Gorillapod Flexible Tripod

5. WHO LOVES THE LOOK OF FILM BUT SHOOTS DIGITAL : VSCO film packs for Lightroom / Photoshop  

6. WHO NEEDS TO PRINT THEIR WORK : an Artifact Uprising gift card

7. WHO ONLY HAS A KIT LENS : a Nikon 50mm f/1.8G AF-S NIKKOR FX Lens or a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

8. WHO IS A BAG LADY :  Shootsac Neoprene Lens Bag

9. WHO IS A FASHIONISTA : a fun, printed camera strap like these from Capturing Couture

10. WHO NEEDS COFFEE FIRST THING IN THE MORNING : a camera lens travel mug for the Nikon or Canon lover

11. EAGER TO LEARN MORE  : Picture Perfect Posing: Practicing the Art of Posing for Photographers and Models or Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs 

12. WHO COLLECTS CAMERAS : Vintage cameras

13. LOOKING FOR INSPIRATION : a magazine subscription. I personally love W, Vogue and Esquire. Or opt for a subscription to a photo magazine like American Photo or Rangefinder.

14. WHO WANTS TO SHOOT REAL FILM : Film Is Not Dead: A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film

15. ….WITH EVERYTHING : Recycled Film Roll Magnets

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // december

When I think of December, I think of cookies, the scent of fresh pine and lots of sparkle … and that … well it makes me giddy. Phil and I will be trading in our beach afternoons mid-month for afternoons cuddled up on the couch catching up on Homeland, How to Get Away with Murder, and Modern Family. In between my hibernation and tv binge, there are a few other things I need / want / hope to get crossed of my list this month. Here we go … last month of 2014.

NOVEMBER TO – DO LIST [ update ]

>> Photograph my parents in a special 30 year anniversary session on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman : Technically we took a few photos this morning, but I am still counting it. :)

>> Shoot with my wider lenses for some wide photos (I just adore my 70-200 so it is time to love my 24-70 a little) :  While I left this lens in Chicago when I came back to Grand Cayman, I did use this for the weddings / sessions at home. I just need to use it a little more.

>> Look at my surroundings with fresh eyes and a new perspective 

>> Relax and watch Gone Girl / Hunger Games / Before I Go To Sleep. I read all the books, so now it is movie time : I’m hoping we go see Hunger Games sometime in the next week now that our visitors are leaving but the others will have to wait until we get back to Chicago (since the theater here doesn’t have them).

>> Celebrate my first Thanksgiving out of the country … island style : Thanksgiving on the island = lots of seafood and a little turkey. It all was delicious!

>> Spend 4 days shooting just for me – including using my Holga while in Grand Cayman : Truthfully, I haven’t been really inspired to pick up my camera and shoot for fun while I have been here. We have 8 days, so I am hoping to spend one or two hours shooting for fun.

>> Select 40 images for my updated wedding portfolio (this really should be to-do #1) : This is a work in progress, and I will have to finish it when I am back in Chicago mid-month because the current portfolio didn’t make it on my hard drive for our time in Grand Cayman. However, I have been pulling all the pretty photos from what I have been editing, so it will just be a matter of picking my absolute favorites. I really, want to half cross this off …. because it counts, kinda. :)

Grand Cayman Island Seven Mile Beach Sunset Photos

DECEMBER TO – DO LIST 

>> Sip on hot chocolate and watch Christmas Vacation (my favorite Christmas movie!)

>> End my 2014 wedding season with a destination wedding in Punta Cana

>> Take one week off to celebrate the holidays with my friends and family and to just relax and get organized before 2015

>> Decorate our mini tree and winterize the apartment

>> Print my work (including those South East Asia photos sitting on my computer)

>> Prep and launch my 2014 social media contest

>> Make at least one batch of Italian pizzelles (one of my fav cookies)

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // november

obsessions_nov14

1. W MAGAZINE // I’m not really sure why I haven’t been reading this magazine all these years (fashionista fail here), but now that I have the subscription, I cannot live without this one. I kind of love the unique size of it. And the photo spreads … well they make my heart pitter-patter.

2. NYX PORE FILLER : I’m pretty sure whatever is in this is magic. A little dab of this goes a long way.

3. HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER // If you haven’t tuned in to this crime show yet (yes … of course it is a crime show, you know I love them), then you are seriously missing out. I cannot even wait for my DVR to record the whole thing before I am pressing play.

4. CUBA //  I have been doing some serious stalking on all things Cuba lately. The photos time travel you back to the ‘50s … and I am lusting over the culture, the beaches and the history. #travelbucketlist

5. VITAMIN GUMMIES // I know I am late to the party on this one, but seriously these things ROCK MY SOCKS. I don’t think I have ever taken vitamins this many days in a row.

Anything you cannot get enough of? Let me know in the comments.

IMAGE CREDITS  // w magazine // cuba // vitamins

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // november

October is one of my FAVORITE months – the changing of the leaves, boot season, chili, my birthday and lots of candy eating. It was a beyond busy month though as I packed in the last of my shoots before jetting off to Grand Cayman to celebrate my birthday and photograph a wedding. I didn’t cross off as many things as I had hoped, but that is life. As the year comes to a close, I am focusing on finding new inspiration and planning what is next for the business. Here is a look at my October list and what I have planned for November.

OCTOBER TO – DO LIST [ update ]

>> Cheer the Chicago Blackhawks to a victory on the road in Nashville : Despite a Blackhawk loss, it was an amazing weekend.

>> Update my wedding / engagement portfolio before engagement season starts (hello, holidays) : Happening once I wrap up my weddings for my amazing clients …. 

>> Celebrate my golden birthday while working on a golden tan in Grand Cayman. (I just love everything gold…) : It was a fantastic birthday on the beach … I couldn’t have been happier to be in the sun on my birthday.

>> Buy at least one pumpkin. Drink apple cider. Watch one scary movie (but a good crime show can also count). : The month went so fast, I never actually purchased a pumpkin, but I sipped cider and watched a good amount of crime shows (no scary movies for me).

>> Order my NEW sample albums. Yes, for real. : Fail, fail, fail. On the list … again.

>> Develop new session posing so it is full of natural movement : I have turned into the creepy people watching stranger in public places, but I promise it is all for the love of my work. If you caught me creeping on you, I am sorry … it was research. :) 

>> Photograph 12 shoots and 3 weddings and edit them before the end of the month : I was shooting nearly every day … and then I got sick. Bad … for days. So I am playing catch up on editing, and my clients have been so patient as the anxiously await their photos. 

>> Eliminate at least 3 things from my closet and anything I haven’t used in the last 6 months : Phil and I will be doing major winter cleaning once we are back in Chicago for the holidays, so I know we will be eliminating. Nothing makes you realize how MUCH you have until you live out of a suitcase for weeks on end.

Chicago Wedding Concorde Banquets Wedding Photos_0019

NOVEMBER TO – DO LIST 

>> Photograph my parents in a special 30 year anniversary session on the beautiful Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman

>> Shoot with my wider lenses for some wide photos (I just adore my 70-200 so it is time to love my 24-70 a little)

>> Look at my surroundings with fresh eyes and a new perspective

>> Relax and watch Gone Girl / Hunger Games / Before I Go To Sleep. I read all the books, so now it is movie time

>> Celebrate my first Thanksgiving out of the country … island style

>> Spend 4 days shooting just for me – including using my Holga while in Grand Cayman

>> Select 40 images for my updated wedding portfolio (this really should be to-do #1)

What’s on your must do-list this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // october

I have been pretty much the worst blogger lately. Sigh, and I feel pretty terrible about it. Ok, really terrible about it. It is a week into October now, and I am JUST sharing my to-do list for the month. Truth be told, I pre-wrote most of this post the last week of September, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed thinking about October that I just sort of put it on hold. But October is here, and I now I only have 3 weeks to get this all done… eekk. But first, here’s how September went ….

SEPTEMBER TO – DO LIST [ update ]

>> Work on the new Brittany Bekas Photography website (and try to get it launched by the end of the month). A work in progress….I wish I could just set aside some time to crank this out but I have been putting all client deadlines before this .. eek.

>> Visit my high school best friend, Ashley, in Tampa and photograph her perfect little one-year-old, Hunter. It was so great to sneak out of town and visit with her and photograph her perfect little guy- Hunter. He is coming to the blog soon.

>> Order new sample wedding albums. One book is designed … just needs a little tweaking before I will order it. 

>> (Finally) print some of the gorgeous photos from South East Asia. Sigh, they are in a folder. I might just order the ones I have ready and then do another round of more before the end of the year. I am really going to set aside a day or two to just do this for me … because I feel extremely guilty that I haven’t printed a single photo … still.

>> Submit my summer weddings to industry blogs for features.

>> Celebrate Phil’s BIG birthday!

>> Read The Fault in Our Stars + Unbroken + a feel good book (any suggestions?). I read If I Stay, The Fault in Our Stars, and Steal Like an Artist. Three books, I think that counts. 

>> Live in the now. (The most important thing on this list.)

Chicago Wedding Photography - Brittany Bekas Photography

OCTOBER TO – DO LIST

>> Cheer the Chicago Blackhawks to a victory on the road in Nashville

>> Update my wedding / engagement portfolio before engagement season starts (hello, holidays)

>> Celebrate my golden birthday while working on a golden tan in Grand Cayman. (I just love everything gold…)

>> Buy at least one pumpkin. Drink apple cider. Watch one scary movie (but a good crime show can also count).

>> Order my NEW sample albums. Yes, for real.

>> Develop new session posing so it is full of natural movement

>> Photograph 12 shoots and 3 weddings and edit them before the end of the month

>> Eliminate at least 3 things from my closet and anything I haven’t used in the last 6 months

What’s on your list this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // september

obsessions_sept14

1. BEACHY WAVES // For most of my life, I adored my stick straight hair. Now, all I want is beachy waves. My new go-to look.

2. OPI CUTICLE OIL  // I used to cut my cuticles …. all-the-time. But now I keep this little bottle on my desk and I apply daily. Elle Wood’s manicurist would be proud, just saying.

3. BLUEBERRIES // I am trying to eat more “clean” foods and lately, and blueberries are my current fav. Perfect for snacking or to toss in yogurt for an easy (healthy) breakfast.

4. BOOTIES // Boot season is quickly approaching, and while I should be soaking up the last few warm Chicago days and wear my sandals, I have already been wearing these booties from Nordstrom every day.

5. YOU’RE THE WORST // If you haven’t tuned into this FX show, give it a shot. It is pretty funny … and who doesn’t love a guy with a British accent.

Anything you cannot get enough of? Let me know in the comments.

IMAGE CREDITS  // beachy waves // OPI // booties via nordstrom  // you’re the worst via TV Rage

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // september

Welcome, September. I have mixed feelings for you ….  August was an emotional roller-coaster with lots of difficult news and a huge loss in my personal life. It was a month where I although I finally had some time to catch up on work in the office (and all those long term, bigger picture projects), I took a little bit of a work hiatus. My blogging schedule went out the window, and I really focused on what needed to get done. I feel guilty a about this, but at the same time I am ok with it because I spent my time where I needed to (with Phil and our families). So as the first week of September comes to an end, I am finally sharing what is on my list of things to do this month. Hopefully, I will get all of these crossed off, but if not that is ok to. August taught me … more than ever … that being in the now and living in the moment is the most important thing. There will always be a to-do list.

AUGUST TO – DO LIST [ UPDATES ]

>> Get caught up on all the editing from July by the middle of the month : I was an editing manic this month and just when I only have 1 session on my to-d0 list … I shot 3 more things. :) Business is good.

>> Update portfolio … for real. And start developing the new Brittany Bekas Photography website with my designer : New engagement images should be going up in the next few days, and I am working on pulling new wedding images. Everything is in one spot on my computer so this process will not be sooo overwhelming next time. And my new website is in the works.

>> Finally get my tattoo! (I’ve been talking about it for 2 years. I think it is time) : Fail. This is happening … seriously.

>> Host a summer party with our friends : Despite having a few days off this month, I wasn’t able to host a summer party at our apartment, but I did get to catch up with a lot of friends this month.

>> Sell my old camera gear (Nikon D600, 70-300 lens, and more …. if you want any, let me know.) : Yea….I swear I am doing this too. Soon.

>> Spend 4 afternoons in the sun (beach or pool) …. gotta work on this tan : If it wasn’t four, it was close.

Chicago Wedding Photos Bride's Bouquet

SEPTEMBER TO – DO LIST

>> Work on the new Brittany Bekas Photography website (and try to get it launched by the end of the month).

>> Visit my high school best friend, Ashley, in Tampa and photograph her perfect little one-year-old, Hunter.

>> Order new sample wedding albums.

>> (Finally) print some of the gorgeous photos from South East Asia.

>> Submit my summer weddings to industry blogs for features.

>> Celebrate Phil’s BIG birthday!

>> Read The Fault in Our Stars + Unbroken + a feel good book (any suggestions?).

>> Live in the now. (The most important thing on this list.)

What is on your list this month? Any fun fests / fall activities? I’d love to add it to mine.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // july + august

obsessions_julyaug14

1. AGATE … anything // I’m swooning over these agate coasters from West Elm … like hard. Other agate purchases are heading my way this month, and I cannot wait.

2. GOLD SPRAY PAINT // Thank you, Pinterest. I have developed a problem, and it is gold spray paint. I literally look for things that I can spray paint … all day long. My grandma, Ro, would be SO proud (I swear she almost spray painted her car…)

3. FRINGE // Peace, love and flower power. I am in l-o-v-e with all things boho / hippie. I blame it on the artist and free-spirit in the creative, but I cannot pass up anything with fringe on it. My credit card hates it.

4. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER // While this amazing show has finally ended (and I have mixed feelings on the whole ending), I cannot stop watching the reruns every single day. I mean, it is LEGEN – (wait for it) – DARY … legendary!

5. COOKIE DOUGH ICE CREAM // Just as the summer is winding down, I am binging on Edy’s slow churned cookie dough. 1/2 the fat means I eat twice as much. :)

Anything you cannot get enough of? Let me know in the comments.

IMAGE CREDITS  // agate coasters  // free people fringe dress // edy’s cookie dough

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // august

I feel like I blinked and this month was over. Seriously, it has been an insane whirlwind of so much shooting! And as we enter the last month of summer (which I feel like I haven’t had a chance to appreciate), I am making sure I make some time to just live in the moment. But before I can do that, let’s see how much of July’s list I accomplished (eek, I know it isn’t good) and what I have planned for August.

JULY TO – DO LIST [ UPDATES ]

>> Photograph 4 weddings, 8 sessions and my best friend, wedding planner and floral designer, Christine Janda‘s, amazing launch party : It is official, I photographed more this month than I ever have in a months time … for real. 13 sessions, 2 events and 4 weddings. There will be LOTS of blog posts coming soon …

>> Update my website including all the new portfolio images I have been pulling and organizing in June : Yeah … too much shooting, not enough updating. August?

>> Order new wedding sample albums : Please see above ….

>> Enjoy a sunny day at North Ave Beach … at least once this month : I may have been sick, but Phil dragged me to the beach with him and his family for an afternoon of relaxing and it was wonderful.

>> Identify my three brand words and get serious about only showing work that reflects these words : Chic, fun and authentic. Everything posted from here on out must fit these words ….

>> Go to the farmer’s market (and bring my camera!) : Hmm…I had every intention of this one …. but it so did not happen. I promise, August.

>> Plan a date with Phil that is all about being a tourist in Chicago. We love to travel and explore, so let’s do it in our own city. Maybe check out the Navy Pier fireworks?

Christine Janda Design and Events Launch Party

AUGUST TO – DO LIST 

>> Get caught up on all the editing from July by the middle of the month

>> Update portfolio … for real. And start developing the new Brittany Bekas Photography website with my designer

>> Finally get my tattoo! (I’ve been talking about it for 2 years. I think it is time)

>> Host a summer party with our friends

>> Sell my old camera gear (Nikon D600, 70-300 lens, and more …. if you want any, let me know.)

>> Spend 4 afternoons in the sun (beach or pool) …. gotta work on this tan

Last month of summer … what is on your list?

DESIGN CREDIT : Floral + event design by Christine Janda Design & Events

Brittany XO Signature 2

SUMMER IS ….

Grand Cayman Sunset_0057

>> long days and short dresses

>> sun-kissed skin with a lingering smell of coconut tanning lotion

>> an afternoon of guilty chic-lit book marathons

>> juicy, watermelon and ripe tomatos

>> fireflies buzzing around

>> chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream … dripping down the waffle cone

>> fresh cut grass

>> pool parties that turn into dance parties

>> bonfires and yummy ‘smores

>> bare feet and bright colored pedis

>> lemonade on a deck and beer at a local fest

>> taking a long walk because you want to be outside … doing anything

>> short shorts and strappy sandals

>> fireworks, sparklers and sticky nights

>> sand in toes and salt in your hair

>> sweet corn and bbqs

>> laughter, love and lasting memories

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

OBSESSIONS // june

obsessions // june

Summer has finally arrived, and I am as excited as a school girl on the last day of class. Here are some of my summer finds and loves for the month of June.

1. CACTI // I went to Home Depot for THREE cacti …. I ended up with SEVEN! Eek… they were just too cute / cool / amazing to leave them behind. So now my apartment is a mini cacti desert. Here’s to hoping I can keep them alive.

2. NYX INDIE FLICK // This orange lipstick is so fun! I picked it up for a wedding, and now I rock it almost daily. For someone who only wore nudes, this is such a big (wild) change for my lips.

3. HIGH WAISTED SHORTS // I have converted, and I love them for Chicago afternoons, hitting the town or just lounging at the pool. I may snag a few more pairs before summer’s end.

4. SAFETY SUIT – NEVER STOP // Thank you Pandora, for another new favorite artist / song. I’m not going to lie … I have been listening to this on repeat and counting down the days until Phil is back in Chicago. It is so sweet … and would make a great first dance song for all my brides-to-be.

5. BLACK BOX // If you aren’t watching this new show on ABC … start. Anything that combines drama, the human brain and hot doctor(s) is a winner in my book.

Can’t get enough of X, Y, Z? Let me know so I can check it out.

IMAGE CREDITS  // 2. nyx indie click via allure.com  // 3. high-waisted shorts  // 5. black box via abc.com

Brittany XO Signature 2

THAILAND ISLANDS in PHOTOGRAPHS

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to a lot of gorgeous locations over the years – St. Lucia, Dominican Repeblic, Hawaii, Grand Cayman – but the Thai islands are something out of a dream. Do you all remember the Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio? Those jaw-dropping beaches …. that is exactly what I woke up to every day for near 6 weeks. I know, insane right? I had to pitch myself, but it was real life. We spent time on Ko Samui, Ko Tao, Ko Phanghan, Ang Thong, Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi and Phuket.

It took me WAY to long to edit through the photos from Thailand. I think, in a way, I was avoiding editing them because it meant this magical trip was actually over, but after nearly 8 weeks, I finally put my big girl pants on and forced myself to look at them and relive every perfect (and not so perfect) moment on the islands of Thailand.

So without babbling too much about Thailand, let me show you some of the beauty that is just a plane ride away. And if you are planning a trip to Thailand, pack me in your suitcase …. :)

thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao  // brittany bekas photography thailand islands phuket // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands phuket // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko tao // brittany bekas photography thailand islands phuket // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands phuket // brittany bekas photography thailand islands phuket // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko samui // brittany bekas photographythailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography thailand islands ko phi phi // brittany bekas photography

 

Brittany XO Signature 2

I WISH WE WERE TOGETHER …. ANYWHERE

I walked into the apartment after my consulation last night and nothing had changed. The million throw pillows were still perfectly placed on the couch. The pineapple I cut the night before was still being chilled in the refrigerator waiting to be eaten. The TV was still tuned to Bravo. Everything in its place, but I wanted it all to be different.

As some of you know, my boyfriend, Phil, has been in South East Asia since January. I last saw him 86 days ago when I left Thailand after a whirlwind of a trip visiting Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Nha Trang) and Cambodia. And while we have done the long distance thing more than once over the last 10 years together, this time feels the longest … the hardest …. and the strangest.

We are over 8,000 miles apart. Living in two different days (literally) in two different worlds. I am so blessed to be extremely busy in Chicago with work, dates with friends and dinners with family, but even with everything else in my life being so “full” it feels a little empty with Phil not here.

Our not so successful attempts at video chatting and phone calls seem to be more about “can you hear me” …or … “what, you are cutting out” than actual conversations. And while g chat and whatsapp have made me feel a little closer so I can tell him about my day or send a funny picture to him, we are still so far apart. Long distance sucks. Seriously. To all my couples out there who do this for months / years … you are SO strong. There are days when I wake up, and I miss him so much it hurts … that I think about jumping on a plane for a 17-hour flight just to see him for a few days in between my work schedule. The next 25 days seem as if they are forever away. :( I am ready to come home to the throw pillows on the floor, an empty bowl of pineapple and ESPN on the TV …. so that I can be right by his side again.

i-wish-that-you-were-here-or-i-were-there-or-we-were-together-anywhere

 

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

LINKS I LOVE // may

The past week as has been a little bit crazy to say the least. I started off with two amazing back-to-back weddings on Saturday and Sunday and then moved back into my apartment on Monday. Phil and I decided to rent out our place while we traveled the world over the winter, and it feels so great to FINALLY be back here just in time for the best time in Chicago … SUMMER! Between dinners with old friends, lots and lots of editing, setting up this apartment and cheering on the Blackhawks to one more victory, the week FLEW by. So much, that I may have slacked on blogging this week. Sorry, friends! I had every intention of FINALLY sharing my Thailand photos with you today, but since I still haven’t edited them, here is one from the gorgeous Thai islands … (yes this is really what the colors looked liked!) and some of the links I found that I just LOVED this month.

Brittany Bekas Photography // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in Chicago

>> This song by SafetySuit makes me miss Phil that much more …. less than one month until I see him again …

>> I love lists, which is why I think this bucket list idea is so adorable for a guest book alternative at a wedding.

>> Lusting over this amazing print of the world.

>> I wish these boho pants would just show up in my closet.

>> Even though Phil isn’t home yet, we are planning our next travel adventure, so I just loved these tips on when we should actually book our flights.

>> My  birthday feels like it is right around the corner, so I really appreciated this list of things you will regret in your 30s.

>> This time lapse hack is going to be such a fun little trick to add to our travel photography skills.

>> Did you see these GORGEOUS diy floral crowns. I want to make one and wear it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yes, I am that much of a flower child these days.

Did you stumble on something amazing this month on the internet? If so, leave me the link the comments below so I can check it out!

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // may

obsessions_may14

I’m not sure what happened in March and April because I totally forgot about my obsessions posts. It makes me pretty sad because I love looking back at them to see what things I couldn’t get enough of. Anyway, I missed two months, but this is back for the rest of the year. Pinky promise.

1. BLUE MOON // This one goes hand-in-hand with #4.

2. SALT + VINEGAR CHIPS // I vowed to eat less “junk” when I got home, but I can’t fight my cravings for these delicious chips.

3. LEOPARD PRINT SUNNIES // You may have seen these on my Instagram feed a few months ago when I picked them up in Vietnam. But I love them … so much … that I put Phil on the hunt to get me a couple more pairs while he is still in Asia.

4. BLACKHAWKS PLAYOFFS // Do I really need to explain this one? Let’s go HAWKS. #stanleycup2014 #letsdoitagain

5. TRISTAN PRETTYMAN// I discovered this amazing artists a few weeks ago on my Pandora stream, and now I CANNOT stop listening to her. If you like Colbie Caillat … I promise you will love Tristan. Plus anyone who makes a music video with a white tiger is amazing in my book.

What can’t you resist this month? Leave me a comment below.

IMAGE CREDITS  // 2. salt + vinegar chips // 4. blackhawks  // 5. tristan prettyman

Brittany XO Signature 2

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM

As I walked to my car Wednesday night, I picked up the phone to call to say I was running late. I wouldn’t be at my parent’s house for another hour, and I didn’t want to worry my mom. “Please be careful,” she said back as I clicked in my seatbelt and headed towards the expressway. My mom has told me “be careful” all my life … along with hundreds of other pieces of advice that moms tell their children. The stuff that as kid, you sorta tune out … until one day you have an ah-ha moment, and realize your mom was pretty smart. Yeap, my mom …. well she is insanely smart.

Between packing lunches, applying band-aids and being the best listener …. she has taught me so many life lessons and gave the best advice. I mean, she is still the first person I call with any news.

mother's day

So in honor of Mother’s Day …. I thought I would share 10 of my favorite life lessons /advice from my beautiful mother.

[ 1 ] Always be nice to everyone you meet. Don’t burn bridges. You never know how / when they will come back in to your life. 

[ 2 ] Take care of yourself. Eat well. Stretch (she tells me this every time I talk to her … still). Exercise. Rest. Your health is one of the most important things.

[ 3 ] Create and always stay inspired. My mom’s family is FULL of creatives, and growing up I watched my mom and grandma make endless projects for fun, their homes and as gifts. It is something I love to do …. and it is even better when I can do it with my mom.

[ 4 ] Wear good shoes and keep them polished. When they look tired … let them go. I know this one to be true, but I have a hard time getting rid of some of my boots.

[ 5 ] Follow your passion. Life is too short to be unhappy. #truth

[ 6 ] Always send a thank you note. It goes such a long way. And who doesn’t love snail mail these days?

[ 7 ] Continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow.

[ 8] This too shall pass. When things are bad, they will get better. When things are amazing, they won’t always be. Be present in the moment, and make the most of every one you have.

[ 9 ] Don’t save the china, silver or candles for a special occasion. Today is special.

[ 10 ] The only thing you can’t get more of is time. So choose to spend it wisely. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. Thank you for showing me over the years how to be strong, creative, loving and happy. I am the person I am today because of you. These simple words cannot convey how much you mean to me … but until I can figure out how to do that, this will have to do.

_DSC1635-Edit

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // may

April, how did you come and go … and not give us a taste of spring? I feel like April was a catching up month for me. I photographed 3 weddings and 3 sessions all while trying to get ready for the busy months ahead. Looking back on my to-do list, I only managed to complete a few things (sigh), but I feel like I was on-the-go the whole time … staying super busy. May is looking pretty similar – 3 Chicago weddings, a handful of lifestyle and engagement sessions (hoping Spring finally gets here!), industry events and a few girls nights including a Kentucky Derby Part this weekend. Yet, I’m not slowing down anytime soon, so my list for May is a long one.

APRIL TO – DO LIST [UPDATE ]

>> Eat less carbs … and more veggies (a goal from my 12 goals for 2014) : Does veggies on pizza count? I’m not sure how I really did on this one … probably not as good as I could have … so I guess I won’t cross it off. Sigh.

>> Submit at least 3 weddings/sessions to blogs this month : one submission … eh it is a start. :)

>> Eliminate. I’m trying to purge half of my stuff (but I’ll be happy if I get rid of 25%)  I have gotten rid of SO much stuff. And it feels great. Being able to look into my closet and actually like EVERYTHING in there is the best feeling. But I know I will be doing more eliminating throughout the year. I just feel better with less.

>> Buy less “things” and more “experiences” : I did a little summer shopping, but otherwise I have been saving for the next big trip and only treating myself to drinks with friends, massages and dinners.

>> Book one more 2014 wedding! (I’m just one away from my goal – who is it gonna be?!) : I’m still taking a handful of 2014 weddings … so e-mail me if you need a rockstar photographer. :)

>> Edit all of my South East Asia photos and start designing an album of them : So I’m super behind on getting any personal editing done. Maybe before Phil gets home in June this will be complete.

>> Design and print new sample albums + samples of my new products : These are on the way … and I am so excited to start showing them to all my clients during consults and sessions.

to-do list // may // brittany bekas photography - www.brittanybekas.com // wedding and lifestyle photographer based in chicago, illinois

MAY TO – DO LIST

>> Spend one afternoon with my new (purple) Holga 120N camera and Kodak TMAX 400 black and white film – for fun!

>> Read Picture Perfect Posing + one FUN book this month (part of my 12 goals for 2014)

>> Update my portfolios to include some of the work I shot last year (sad, but the last time I updated my portfolio was last year … eeek)

>> Finish my two pairs of DIY cut-off shorts (a tie project + bleach dying + studs …. just wait!)

>> Design WEDDING WELCOME packets

>> Edit / blog / design / print some of my South East Asia photos. This one breaks my heart because I know it will always be on the bottom of my to-do list. So it is back for May.

>> Schedule one afternoon a week of “me” time (reading blogs, magazines, organizing, journaling, etc)

Brittany XO Signature 2

ANGKOR WAT + SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA in PHOTOGRAPHS

The second country we visited during my 8 weeks in South East Asia was Cambodia. We had one major thing we came for …. Angkor Wat … and all of the ancient temples throughout Siem Reap. Be prepared to be amazed by these stunning temples! I was in complete awe as we visited so many different temples during our 3 days touring these ruins. Besides the temples, our time in Cambodia was spent in the A/C (it was over 100 degrees during the day) so these photos really only show the grandeur and detail of these amazing temples (but I promise you … it is so worth checking out!).

Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com Siem Reap, Cambodia + Angkor Wat in photographs // brittany bekas photography // www,brittanybekas.com

 

Brittany XO Signature 2

LINKS I LOVE // april

links I love // brittany bekas photography // www.brittanybekas.com

After an AMAZING weekend complete with 50 degree temps, sunshine, a gorgeous wedding AND a the cutest little 4-month baby session, I feel that a little procrastination is deserved. So if you are looking to avoid your to-do list this morning, check out some of these links that I just love as of lately.

>> I can’t stop listening to this song ever since Phil told me to download it.

>> Pretty much all of these reasons why you shouldn’t date a photographer are true…. (sorry, Phil!)

>> Learn how to address an envelope like a pro.

>> I’ll be adding these yummy soups in my go-to meal list.

>> This will make you think twice about what you ask google.

>> I have always wanted to learn to DIY a boutonniere

>> I am wishing some of these 13 trends would come back in style too.

>> Any chance this rose gold flatware set can magically show up at my apartment?

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

TRAVEL // the only thing that makes you richer

I sat on the beach sand as the wind breezed through my tangled, ocean kissed hair watching a Thai local throw fire. I watched  in complete awe as he spun waterfalls of fire on to the sand. I had seen these fireshows more times than I could remember during my 8 weeks in South East Asia but in this moment, as I starred at the fire cascading down, I couldn’t help but feel complete bliss.

Here I was, sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, after weeks of seeing and photographing places I never had dreamed about with the love of my life at my side. It was surreal. The whole experience felt as if it shouldn’t be happening. Like I was living in a movie. Like it was way to good to actually be real life.  But it was. And it was my life.

When Phil and I talked about this adventure months before, I was completely apprehensive. Could I be half way around the world for 8 weeks? How would this affect my business? What about all the things I would miss at home? Could I go that long without Portillo’s? (Hey, it was a concern…) As much as my heart was pulling me to go, my head was holding me back. But the more we talked about the trip, I knew I would regret not saying yes to this incredible adventure more than I would actually miss everything I thought I would miss.

So, I packed my life into a backpack and traveled half-way around the world to foreign lands with my eyes wide open … camera in hand. Vietnam. Cambodia. Thailand. The opportunity to see a whole new world while personally changing in the process. I left Chicago a little jaded … seeking some renewed energy and passion and that is exactly what I found in Asia. Every life experience impacts you, but I have found that every time I travel, I come back a different person. Wiser, more cultured, more appreciative, relaxed and definitely more inspired.

Leaving my comfort zone behind allowed me to grow as a person. It allowed me to walk away from the daily grind of dishes, to-do lists and schedules to just BE. To see. To try. And to explore. And it is because of the things I saw, felt and lived during my 8 weeks in Asia that forever changed me and my outlook on what is truly important.

As my trip came to an end in Thailand, I made a promise to myself  to “buy less things and more experiences”. I have been posting the same message a lot since I got back, but it is because I know it to be true. It is something that has taken me longer than it should have to realize. While I may currently be oogling over a new Michael Kors watch and a few colorful dresses for spring, I know that the only thing that I have ever bought that truly gives me everlasting happiness (and endless memories and stories) is travel. And for that reason, I will continue to make time for travel.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer // Brittany Bekas Photography

If you are stuck at your desk on this Wednesday, travel to Vietnam through my photos from my trip: Ho Chi Minh // Nha Trang // Hoi An. And stay tuned for photo stories from Cambodia and Thailand coming in the next week.

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO – DO LIST // april

So, I have been like off the radar …. off the grid … MIA … for weeks now. I feel super guilty about it. Its like when you skip a workout. You miss one, then it turns into a few and then the next thing you know it you are a full-fledged couch potato. I am a blogging couch potato. The more days I went without blogging, the harder it was to jump back into it. But I’m BACK. And I’m back for good. I promise. I’m finally back in the US (which is bittersweet – lots of blogs about my trip, traveling and how I am forever changed by my experience coming soon … promise!).

I’ve mellowed out a lot (aka: I am all about flowers in my hair and fringe – total hippie moments ahead) while I was gone, so there is nothing better than jumping into my to-do list for April to get back a little of that Type A-ness that rubbed off in Asia.

MARCH TO – DO LIST [UPDATE]

>> Ride an elephant + have a visit with a tiger while in Thailand :  The most amazing life experiences! If you want some peeks of my time with these wild animals, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

>> Design/create new marketing materials : These are in the works …. hoping to have them ready by the end of April!

>> Try one new food (I’ve been stuck on a few go-to meals [read: safe] while traveling)  Massaman curry, hot and sour soup, +++ so much more. Thanks, Thailand!

>> Pre-blog all posts on one day each week: READ EPIC FAIL! I blame the beach. :)

>> Actually do my “travel workout” 3x a week

>> Incorporate 3 new marketing strategies into my business : I am still brainstorming up some ideas for this. More to come on this later.

>> FINALLY buy my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII lens (and not panic when I see the total price)  I panicked, but I own it, and I am beyond HAPPY!

>> Drink more water (this is from my 12 goals for 2014)

april to do list // brittany bekas photography // www.brittanybekas.com

APRIL TO DO LIST

>> Eat less carbs … and more veggies (a goal from my 12 goals for 2014)

>> Submit at least 3 weddings/sessions to blogs this month

>> Eliminate. I’m trying to purge half of my stuff (but I’ll be happy if I get rid of 25%)

>> Buy less “things” and more “experiences”

>> Book one more 2014 wedding! (I’m just one away from my goal – who is it gonna be?!)

>> Edit all of my South East Asia photos and start designing an album of them

>> Design and print new sample albums + samples of my new products

I am tempted to add more to that list, but I am going to cut it off there (and save the ideas for May … hehe). What are you trying to get down this month? Spring is in the air, major cleaning projects? Let me know!

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO-DO LIST // march

Being thousands of miles away from home has really allowed me to step back from the craziness of to-do lists (even though I LOVE them), and  the mundane tasks that take up most of my time and has let me just breathe. It has left me more inspired and determined to make 2014 the best year yet … all while enjoying the ride along the way. So as I sit on the beach and plan out my goals for March and the rest of my time in Asia, I know that that taking time away from home has been nothing short of amazing for myself and the business.

march to do list // brittany bekas photography

FEBRUARY TO – DO LIST [ UPDATE ]

>> Be in the moment

>> Update wedding and lifestyle collections

>> Take personal photos to capture the moments I am in (even if the lighting isn’t great and it isn’t composed how I love)

>> Have one tech free day (no work, email, social media, phone calls or texts)

>> Try something new

>> Treat myself to at least 2 massages this month : I am one short on this one …. oops.

>> Photograph one engagement/lifestyle session in Thailand (I’m dying to photograph couples again!) : I’m still scouting for the perfect couple for this. If you know of anyone who is here or traveling to Thailand, send them my info!

>> Capture some video clips with my Nikon … gotta get working on learning videography. :)

>> Design/create new marketing materials: I started this at the end of the month, so I just don’t feel right crossing this off, yet. :(

 

MARCH TO – DO LIST

>> Ride an elephant + have a visit with a tiger while in Thailand

>> Design/create new marketing materials

>> Try one new food (I’ve been stuck on a few go-to meals [read: safe] while traveling)

>> Pre-blog all posts on one day each week

>> Actually do my “travel workout” 3x a week

>> Incorporate 3 new marketing strategies into my business

>> FINALLY buy my Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRII lens (and not panic when I see the total price)

>> Drink more water (this is from my 12 goals for 2014)

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // feburary

obsessions_feb14

1. SOCK BUN  // With the hot, hot Thailand weather, I am rocking a sock bun just about every day (and night). I could not live without my hot bun sock bun on this trip. If you don’t have one, and you love to wear a sock bun this is a must! #soinlove

2. H2O // It is a goal for 2014 to drink more water, and I have been trying really hard. When you can buy a 1.5 liter bottle for $.50, I have been enjoying the cold calorie free drink as much as possible.

3. I AM MALALA // I’m about 70% through this book (thank you Kindle for the progress). I think every female should read this book to realize how women around the world do not have the freedom we take for granted. Amazing story about a brave little girl … add this to your list for 2014.

4. PEOPLE // It is amazing when you leave the country, how little importance TV plays in your day to day life (we only have one english channel, so I’d rather not watch TV than watch what they have been airing.) So instead, I have become totally obsessed with people watching here. During meals, walking around, hanging on the beach … I can’t stop. Think of it as inspiration for posing and creating moments … or just call me a creep. ;)

5. PAD THAI  // I had an inkling that I would be loving this authentic dish once I got to Thailand because I adore it at home. I’ve been here for X days, and I’ve managed to eat this dish X times. I’m planning on learning to make it when we head north to Chiang Mai.

Anything you are wearing too much or watching too much? Let me know what you love this month!

IMAGE CREDITS // 1. sock bun // 4. brittany bekas photography  // 5pad thai
Brittany XO Signature 2

HOI AN, VIETNAM in PHOTOGRAPHS

The last city on our tour of Vietnam was Hoi An. Hoi An was an old trading port town that is quaint, charming and has a lot of Chinese and Japanese influence in terms of the buildings, food and culture. It was the perfect city to end our time in Vietnam especially because we were able to celebrate the lunar New Year called Tet with the locals. Enjoy a photo tour of Hoi An, Vietnam!

HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comHOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comMY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com MY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com MY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com MY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com MY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comMY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com MY SON, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comHOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-02-11_0030 2014-02-11_0032 HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-02-11_0041 HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-02-11_0003HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com HOI AN, VIETNAM // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com

 

 

If you want to see more of the gorgeous Vietnam, be sure to check out the photo tour of Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Brittany XO Signature 2

NHA TRANG, VIETNAM in PHOTOGRAPHS

Stop number 2 on our tour of Asia …. Nha Trang, Vietnam. This town has to be one of my favorite towns that we have traveled to. It is the perfect mix of a beach town and a city (and for city-lover and sunbathing fan, I was in heaven). Nha Trang has beautiful beaches, great shopping and delicious food. Here is a little look at Nha Trang from my perspective.

Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comNha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-01-29_0026 Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-01-29_0031Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-01-29_0027 Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-01-29_0019 Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comNha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com 2014-01-29_0017 Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comNha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.comNha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com

 

Brittany XO Signature 2

TO DO LIST // FEBRUARY

One month into the 2014. Can you guys believe it?! I am in shock at how fast time is going, yet I can’t believe how much I have done in the last 31 days. New experiences certainly make time seem longer, and that is something I am extremely grateful for. Even though I am half way around the world, I am still giving myself a to-do list while I am gone (in addition to my bucket list for South East Asia. Here is a look at what is on my list for this month.

Nha Trang, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography - www.brittanybekas.com

>> Be in the moment

>> Update wedding and lifestyle collections

>> Take personal photos to capture the moments I am in (even if the lighting isn’t great and it isn’t composed how I love)

>> Have one tech free day (no work, email, social media, phone calls or texts)

>> Try something new

>> Treat myself to at least 2 massages this month

>> Photograph one engagement/lifestyle session in Thailand (I’m dying to photograph couples again!)

>> Capture some video clips with my Nikon … gotta get working on learning videography. :)

>> Design/create new marketing materials

Is that too long of a list while traveling? We shall find out. Lots to accomplish in the off-season! What is on your list this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

The first stop on our 2-month backpacking trip to South East Asia was Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this city, until I arrived and even then, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this city. It is a big city, full of lots of traffic (motorbikes everywhere), has a funky smell (think dried fish mixed with exhaust pollution), but great shopping. As with most of these posts, I’ll let the photos show what it is all about vs having me tell you. Enjoy, Ho Chi Minh City & the Mekong Delta!

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.comHo Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam // Brittany Bekas Photography // www.brittanybekas.com

Next step on our trip … Nha Trang.
Brittany XO Signature 2

MY SOUTHEAST ASIA BUCKET LIST

Things have been a little quiet on the blog, and I promise you I have a good reason for it. I am traveling through South East Asia for two months with Phil during my off-season. Yes, we escaped snowy, cold Chicago for Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. It it my first time ever traveling this far (the farthest I had been was Italy) and my first time in Asia.

Buddha // Brittany Bekas Photography // Chicago + Lifestyle wedding photographer

I am beyond excited to be traveling and photographing all the beauty and culture around South East Asia. Yet, like any other Type A personality, I cannot simply just take it all in … no, I have a nice little bucket list of things for our trip and our time away from Chicago.

// Relax with a Thai massage

// Meet an elephant

// Take a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai

// Try pho (a Vietnamese noodle soup)

// Photograph Angkor Wat at sunrise/sunset

// Celebrate the Vietnamese New Year in Hoi An

// Soak up the sun in Phuket

// Take photographs of the tigers at the tiger temples in Thailand …. and I must be in at least one

// Attend a full moon party in Koh Pha Ngan

// Get a custom made dress in Hoi An

// Snorkel in Nha Trang

// Meet and travel with new people from around the world

// Release a lantern

// Go to as many markets as I can … there are tons all over South East Asia, but a floating market is a must

// Chat with a monk

// Get a fish pedicure

// Live, enjoy and have no regrets about the next 2 months – from take off to landing.

As we travel along, I know my list will continue to grow. I will be blogging throughout the trip and sharing photos from our adventure, so stay tuned. #bbphotoinasia

Brittany XO Signature 2

12 GOALS in 2014

You guys …. I cannot believe we are already one week into 2014. Eek! I have been a bit of a bad blogger the last couple weeks, and I feel really terrible about it (more to come on why soon).

The time away gave me some much needed inspiration and new goals for what is ahead this year. Trust me, I have a lot of goals I want to achieve this year. Heck, I probably have 12 different lists between personal, business, blogging goals and more that I want to cross off. But in an attempt to simplify my life this year (goal #2), I am aiming for just 12 goals. One for each month.

Brittany Bekas Photography // Chicago + Destination Wedding Photographer

1. Drink more water.

2. Simplify …. everything.

3. Read 12 books. Watch less TV.

4. Say yes, and figure the rest out after.

5. Teach myself videography.

6. Eat less carbs … and more veggies.

7. Get back to the gym … regularly.

8. Develop my social media plan for 2014. Pre-blog as much as possible.

9. Be in the moment.

10. Stop comparing myself/my work to others.

11. Submit more work to contests and blogs to be featured.

12. Create one personal photography project for me.

What are your goals for 2014? Let me know!

Brittany XO Signature 2

MERRY CHRISTMAS

The last few days have been full of sipping hot chocolate, eating cookies and singing (I really should leave it up to Mariah, but who can resist “All I Want for Christmas”). I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas celebrating with friends and family, and that Santa brings you everything you wanted.

In honor of Christmas, I made Bentley dress us as my little elf. I think he is in for next year.

2013-12-25_0001

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // DECEMBER

Brittany Bekas Photography // Obsessions // Decemeber

 

1. CROCKPOT FRENCH ONION SOUP // There is nothing better than the smell of this soup cooking in the crockpot all day. And its so, so easy. Here is the recipe I have been loving.

2. HAPPINESS PROJECT // A great book at improving your personal happiness and different steps on how to get there. I learned that organizing makes me happy, so I have been doing it non-stop lately.

3. BETRAYAL // A gorgeous photographer living in Chicago ends up having an affair with a corrupt lawyer. Drama, Chicago and photography. Sign me up. I also love seeing my River North neighborhood in just about every scene.

4. LEATHER LEGGINGS // It is the Italian in me, but I can’t hold back from this hot trend. I have been rocking these leggings as much as possible… and I must say I feel extra sexy when I do.

5. STU’S BLOODY MARY MIX // I have a confession. I now LOVE bloody mary’s. It was years to get me here, but after finding this delicious mix at the Randolph Street Market, I am now hooked. Want to try it?! You can order it here!

What can’t you resist this month? Leave me a comment below.

IMAGE CREDITS // 1. french onion soup // 4. leather leggings // 5. stu’s bloody mary mix

 
Brittany XO Signature 2

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

You are taking too much. Um….are you going to save any for me?! Who took all the veggie casserole? Ah, my Aunt Marge’s famous veggie casserole. This warm, heavenly mixture of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and creamy goodness is liquid gold …. and it is the ONE thing on the Thanksgiving table that my cousins and I battle over just about every year. After years of hearing this banter, my Aunt Marge started making huge trays so that we can eat as much as we want AND bring home leftovers. Now that is something to be thankful for.

Today will be bittersweet though. I’ll be getting an extra serving of veggie casserole because my little and only brother, Peter will be eating rice and noodles in Thailand. It won’t be the same without him sitting alongside us strategizing over the Black Friday ads like years past.

Brittany Bekas Photography // Wedding + lifestyle photographer

Everyday this week, I have been noting all the things I am beyond thankful for … but rather than give you the full list, here are the cliff notes … Phil, my family + Bentley (how adorable does he look laying on the couch today watching football?!), friends, peanut butter cups, long, hot showers, true happiness, being my own boss, Pinterest and all of my clients, readers, and supporters who trust me to document and share their special moments.

Happy turkey day!

Brittany XO Signature 2

A NOTE TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Gosh, today marks the day that I am officially 28. It is a weird age. It is not like turning 16 or 18 or 21 … those big birthdays where life totally changes … finally being able to drive, to vote, to drink. And it isn’t a year like 20 or 25 or 30 where it is a milestone birthday … where people get you cards with your age on them. (I’m pretty sure Hallmark doesn’t make a happy 28th birthday).

In a way, it feels like just another birthday. Yet as I look back on the past 28 years, all the tears, disappointments, adventures, laughter, and amazing memories, I realize it is one never ending journey. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing … however life might have been a little easier had I known the following. So if I could write a note to my younger self with advice it would be this. (And I’m sure my future self could be reminded of these things too).

>> Live what you love. No matter what.

>> Travel light.

>> It is ok to say no (an invitation is not an obligation).

>> Unplug (from technology) as much as possible.

>> It something isn’t beautiful, useful or meaningful … get rid of it.

>> When you discover something you love, do it more often.

>> It is OK to not have a plan.

>> Let things go.

>> Big risks = big rewards.

>> Find someone who inspires you, and then become someone who inspires others.

>> Relationships are complicated, but always worth the roller coaster.

>> A day without chocolate isn’t complete.

>> Save your money. You never know when a last minute trip of a lifetime might happen.

>> Friends grow apart, but you can still cherish your relationship for what it was.

>> Don’t compare your life, relationship, work, family, etc to others. You don’t know what their journey is about.

>> It is ok to ask for help.

>> Don’t burn bridges. You never know when you are going to need that person.

>> A good cry is sometimes all you need to feel better.

>> If you are unhappy, don’t talk about it. Change it.

>> Burn the candles. Use the china. Wear the your jewels. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

>> However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

>> Everyone is busy. Make time for those who are important to you.

>> Make time for yourself.

>> Don’t take no for an answer when it comes to your dreams.

>> Always tell someone how you feel.

>> Give credit. Take blame.

>> Listen. Every person has a story to tell.

>> What’s meant to be always finds a way.

 
Brittany XO Signature 2

A LIFE I LOVE

This past weekend, I traveled to Tulsa to photograph a wedding with my dear friend and talented photographer, Cassandra Photo. When we landed back in Chicago, Sunday, I promised myself I would take a day off this week. Yes, an actual day off. With no sneak peaks, no Facebook updates, no blogs, no emails. I may have snuck in a little work in the morning (eek, A for effort, right?!), but I did get to spend a whole day with one of my best friends. My mom.

We spent the day running in and out of different stores hunting for the perfect leather jacket while sharing stories, giggling and just spending much needed quality time together. All on a Monday. And then when the day turned into night, I decided to stay the night watching Betrayal with my mom on the couch.

And as I sat there, watching TV, I couldn’t help but smile. Because my heart felt full. I was genuinely happy. I have created this amazing life for myself. A life where my job is beyond fun …. a job where it really doesn’t feel like work. A life where I can take a random day off to just spend time with my mom …. or where I can grab lunch with an old friend or  …. where I can just work in my pjs as the rain pours down outside.

She Designed a Life She Loved

I am so blessed that this life is real. That I have the freedom and flexibility that I longed for so many years ago. And that every day I wake up, I get to live my dream.

Brittany XO Signature 2

1 2 3