A LITTLE REMINDER

Things have been a little hectic around here lately. The last couple weeks (and the weeks approaching) are some of the busiest for me and my business yet. Busy in the way it seems our apartment is a constant mess (dirty dishes in the sink, laundry piles that just keep growing, and a fridge with random items that don’t really make a meal) and a to-do list of editing, blogging and emails that has me reaching for the panic button.

It is the kind of busy I longed for when I started this business. The kind of busy that I my type a personality loves …. but at times it is also the kind of busy that makes me doubt if I am capable of keeping all these balls in the air. Running a business is like no other job I have ever had. I have control over everything which is something that I wanted, but I have realized that complete control creates doubt. Uncertainty. Confusion. And fear.

Every day I wake up with a smile on my face that I am pursuing my dream, but underneath that smile, there is a fear that it could come crashing down. Fear that I am not doing things right. That my work isn’t good enough. That I could be doing more.

So when I stumbled upon this love note to entrepreneurs, I felt calm. It made me realize that my business, my work, and myself will never be perfect. I will always be full of self-doubt and uncertainty, but that it is this fear that inspires me to continue down the road less traveled.

love note to entrepreneurs

It made me remember that the reason I do what I do is because it feeds my soul and my passion. And that even if all the balls come crashing down, it was because I took a leap of faith and went for what I believed. Happy Tuesday, babes. I hope this gives you some inspiration too.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // SEPTEMBER

obsessions_septmeber

1. ANIMAL PRINT JACKET // I found this little gem at Target … and I just had to have it. It’s the perfect fall jacket paired with jeans and boots.

2. MWF SEEKING MY BFF // If you haven’t read this book … you MUST! I was literally laughing-out-loud (LOL) throughout most of it. It is about a Chicago gal who moves here and is seeking a BFF … so she goes on 52 girl dates. READ IT!

3. PULLED PORK // A year-round favorite but such a yummy sandwich for football games and cool evenings. Plus, I finally made it for the first time this past weekend. Easy, peezy … thank you crockpot.

4. DEXTER // I have officially watched the last episode of Dexter … which I was totally hooked on. While I am slightly sad about it, I had to admit the series finale wasn’t all that great. Thoughts?

5. HOME DECOR // I can’t get enough of Ikea and anything home dec related this month. I have been to Ikea 3x … and still have a list of things I want/need.  (PS this is not my home, but I wish it was.)

What are you obsessed with lately? Leave me some ideas in the comments below.

Brittany XO Signature 2

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PHIL

Dear Phil,

Today is your birthday. And even though I know you will hate it, I will make a big deal out of it all weekend (complete with an unwanted blog post). Because I’m happy it marks another year of our lives spent together.

I think each birthday that passes makes me smile because our relationship “officially” began the night of my 16th birthday … so in a way I associate our relationship with birthdays. It’s funny how many things I can’t remember (like what movies I have already watched or what you swear you told me the other day), but I can so vividly recall the night when two high school kids finally decided to have a high school romance. I stayed up way past my 10 p.m. bedtime (risking having terrible bags under my eyes for my driver license photo) just so we can chat a little longer. To confirm we wanted to risk our friendship for a relationship. Since then, we have celebrated over a decade worth of birthdays together while chasing dreams, breaking rules and doing what feels right for us.

photo (Phil and I at his senior prom … this was shot on film, oh yea!)

I can’t imagine what life would look like without you at my side. Thank you for being so many things to me over the years. My high school sweetheart, calculus tutor, best friend, eater-of-less-than-stellar-meals-cooked-by-me, music trendsetter, proofreader, Blackhawks fan, professional listener, world traveler, …. but more than anything thank you for believing in my dream and pushing me in to it when I was too scared myself.

IMG_3320-2

So as much as you told me not to blog about your birthday, I felt I had to. Because without you, this blog, this life, this dream … would not be.

Happy Birthday, my love.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // AUGUST

obsessions_august

1. Black and White : My apartment is pretty much almost all black and white … so it is no surprise that my wardrobe and what I have been wearing lately is lots and lots of black and white including really cute chevron prints.

2. Trader Joe’s Sparking Lemonade : I have been tempted to try to make this myself with my soda stream, but I think part of what makes this drink taste so yummy is the gorgeous bottle.

3.  The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell : This book has been on my list of “must read” business books, so I finally ordered it for my iPad/Kindle … and I am fascinated about why some products become a huge trend (think TOMS) whereas other products have no buzz.

4. Randolph Street Market  : Um, this place ROCKS. Like I am so in love. It is an outdoor/indoor market in the west loop full of so many great little treasures like vintage dishes, cameras, decor, jewelry. I love the hunt for something different, so this place is my new fav … too bad it is only once a month.

5. Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis : I’m design crazed this month. My pinterest feed is full of home decor and my DVR is loaded with this show. I think Jeff has the best design aesthetic, and I would LOVE for him to design my home. Anyway we can make this happen, Bravo? ;)

What can’t you get enough of this month? Let me know.

Brittany XO Signature 2

photo credits // [ 2 ] habbyfrenchforme.blogspot.com

IT’S NOT GOODBYE, BUT SEE YOU SOON

I walked up to the apartment entrance at Whole Foods … listening to gossip about her job. We walked in the door … like I had done many times … but I knew it was different this time. Instead of walking upstairs to watch One Tree Hill or to hang out and make some random craft or to sit and drink wine, I was instead hugging her goodbye for an indefinite amount of time.  But rather than think that I didn’t know when I would be seeing her again, I pretended like it was any other time … a quick goodbye, “I’ll talk to you later this week” … and I turned and walked out the door.

Because it was easier. It is always easier to walk out like nothing would be changing, even though I knew that things were. You see, my first “work” friend out of college is moving back to the east coast today. After 5 years of having her blocks away … with almost two of those years working next to each other in our first “adult jobs” in cubes 3 feet away … we will now be hundreds of miles apart.

It’s funny how time changes things. Just when everything seems to be … well .. just be … time changes it all. And it makes you realize that things don’t say the same … no matter how much you might want them. It is a reminder to live in the moment because every moment is passing … and you don’t get to go back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled for my dear friend, Jennifer, as she moves back to NYC to marry her college sweetheart and start their lives together (you have seen these two on the blog a few months ago for their engagement session). But there is a little part of me … that wishes things didn’t have to change.

So as I walked away from Whole Foods saying a different goodbye than I was used to, I found comfort knowing that while things were changing … that our goodbye hug was really an “I’ll see you soon”.

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.  A farewell is necessary before you can meet again.  And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.” – Richard Bach

Have a great weekend, babes.

Brittany XO Signature 2

GOALS // AUGUST

A few days late on this post, but it’s better late than never. I’m sad that summer is more than half way over but excited for all the weddings and shoots this month. Here is a look back at my July goals and what is on my list for August.

>> Update Glamour portfolio to reflect current posing / shooting style // This is a project still in the works as I head into August, but I am so excited about the new work that I am producing, and I can’t wait to share it with everything soon!

>> Start waking up a little earlier (aka before 9 am) // :) You guys must thing I am such a bum, but I am not a morning person … I would rather work into the wee hours of the night. But I have been getting up earlier … not every day but I am making progress.

>> Take a few HD video clips during shoots or behind the scenes videos // This is like the one goal that keep making its way on my list … and I haven’t done. I am really, really going to set aside a day in August to teach myself HD video on my DSRL. Someone hold me to it.

>> Keep our apartment organized. Aka … no dumping bags/shoes/gear because we are running out the door // I was much better about trying to put things away in their “homes” as much as possible, but, hey, I’m not perfect.

>> Find the Stanley Cup and get my photo taken with it // Epic fail. Anyone know how I can make this happen?!

>> Have a film day and one day of shooting for FUN // I’m going to count my glamour portfolio update as a “fun” day … but that film day is going to be moved to August. I just need to order some batteries to get that camera working, and I am golden.

Chicago Skyline | Brittany Bekas Photography | Wedding + Destination

Here is what’s on the list for August….

>> Post photo shoot style tip of the week

>> Spend one day being a Chicago tourist

>> Develop example timelines for different types of wedding days

>> Enjoy ice cream at least once a week before fall happens

 >> Dedicate 30 minutes a day to read – blogs, books or magazines

SUMMER SAILING IN CHICAGO

Let’s face it. Summer = busy season. My weekends are packed with weddings, events and lots of lifestyle sessions. And I LOVE every minute of being busy.

But there is something so wonderful about being able to spend a random Wednesday with dear friends. So that is exactly what we did yesterday. We charted a sail boat and spend two hours sailing on Lake Michigan …. taking in the beautiful skyline from the lake, sharing exciting news, sipping on some bubbly … laughing, gossiping and just enjoying the time with great friends. A little sea sickness may have overcome me (thank you dramamine for not working …. ), but it was nonetheless a great Wednesday afternoon with lifetime friends.

Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography Chicago wedding and lifestyle photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography

I’m truly blessed to have each one of these ladies in my life. Heather, Molly, Christine and Rachel – I love you all so much, and I’m so glad that we all continue to make the time in our hectic lives for each other.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // JULY

Brittany Bekas Photography | Chicago + destination wedding and lifestyle photographer

1. Motive : I think you all know that I have this total obsession with crime shows. So ABC started this new show about WHY the murder happened, I knew I would be addicted.

2. Maxi Dresses : I am living in these lately. They are perfect for work, play and every event when I have no clue what to wear. I am even rocking the maxi when I am bumming on the couch.

3. Starbucks Iced Green Tea + Lemonade : Have you noticed my lemonade obsession for the summer? Well, anything mixed with lemonade it a current favorite … but green tea and lemonade – the perfect refreshing (non-alcoholic) drink.

4. Pools : There is nothing I adore more than hanging by the pool with a good friend or a good book. I’ve been trying to sneak there a couple hours a week to enjoy this summer weather as much as I can.

5. Photography Blogs : I’ve been reading tons of blogs this month and admiring some pretty gorgeous photos. Some of my favorites – Katelyn James, Jana Williams, and Del Sol Photography.

Let me know what you are digging this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

MY NEW WEBSITE

It probably was not one of my brightest ideas to redesign my website during the peak of busy season …. but it was in serious need of a facelift. And I finally was ready to pull the trigger. It was weeks of being overwhelmed … but I am beyond thrilled to have my new site live this morning.

A few tweaks will be happening over the next few weeks, but the new look is up so be sure to check it out!

Brittany Bekas Photography Website | Chicago + Destination Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer

A huge thank you to Jasmine … my amazingly talented web developer who took my vision and made it happen.

To my brother, Peter, who coached me along the way … forwarded me emails from our developer, checked how things were looking in different browsers and drafted the outline for the site …. as always I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for being the business side to my creative brain!

To my dear friend and beyond talented photographer, Cassandra Eldridge, I am OBSESSED with pretty much every photo you took of me. It was so hard to only pick a few for the new website, blog and social media pages. You blow me away with your work … everyday!

To my mom …. thank you for the many phones of letting me vent when I was stressed and for being my biggest cheerleader … always.

To my Christine and Jennifer … thank you all for being my bouncing board when I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I’m so lucky to have you both there to help me work through my ideas and refine them.

To my clients (and new friends!) who took the time to write me love notes. I am forever grateful for being able to photograph you and share your experience with others. I am still posting more notes, so don’t worry if you don’t see yours yet. ;)

And a huge, huge thank you to my amazing boyfriend, Phil. For listening to me talk about my “new” website for nearly a year, for helping me narrow down my head shots (we had such a hard time, Cassandra!), for staying up late because I was still working …. but most of all for pushing me to go after this dream when I was too scared to jump. I love you.

Let me know what you think about the new site ….

Brittany XO Signature 2

GOALS // JULY

When I woke up this morning, I was slightly sad that it is already July. Summer always goes so fast … but it is even sadder because June was hardly a summer. Hello, when is it actually going to be warm out?! I’ve been crazy with shoots, weddings, the new website and spending time with friends and family. Here’s how I did on my June goals, and what I have on the list for July.

JUNE GOALS

>> Attend at least one Chicago fest // I was hoping to make it to more than one fest, but I will have to settle for a Sunday afternoon with my bestie, Christine at the Old Town Art Fair (which is my favorite fest of them all anyway).

>> Shoot only with my prime lenses (sorry 24-70 … I still like you…) // I’ve been shooting prime non-stop, and I am loving the results.

>> Launch the new BrittanyBekas.com. For real. // This should be launching very, very soon. Just getting the final details perfect before I switch it. Be on the look out for it early next week.

>> Submit at least 3 weddings/shoots for publication // I’ve been submitting all my amazing sessions/weddings non-stop but this got pushed back on the to-do list until the new site launches. But once it does, be on the look out for some fun features!

>> Take walks after dinner instead of vegging out on the couch // Phil and I have started to do this … but I’ve been working non-stop that there hasn’t been much vegging out.

>> Enjoy one weekday poolside. Guilt free. Reading encouraged. // If summer would actually come and stay for a while, this would would have happened more. But I have been at the pool two times this month, so I’ll take it. This is a must for July.

Brittany Bekas Photography | Grand Cayman and Destination Wedding Photographer

JULY GOALS 

>> Update Glamour portfolio to reflect current posing / shooting style

>> Start waking up a little earlier (aka before 9 am)

>> Take a few HD video clips during shoots or behind the scenes videos

>> Keep our apartment organized. Aka … no dumping bags/shoes/gear because we are running out the door.

>> Find the Stanley Cup and get my photo taken with it 

>> Have a film day and one day of shooting for FUN

Well that’s all for this month, babes. Hope everyone has a perfect July … and let me know what you are hoping to achieve this month.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // JUNE

obsessions june

1. Stanley Cup Finals : I am cheering on my favorite Blackhawks until they bring the cup back to Chicago even if it means rocking my jersey in the heat.

2. Bleached Leggings : I feel like I am wearing these all the time … and I love them even more because I made them. Want your own. Read how I made my bleached leggings.

3. Summer Shandy : The only summertime beer option in my mind. I will be drinking these until I can’t get my hands on them.

4. Nikon 105 mm marco : I really don’t know why it took me so long to get this lens, but it is a GEM! I am totally in love with the beautiful details this thing captures …

5. Grilling : There is nothing that feels more like summer to me than being up to cook up a healthy dinner on the grill. Kabobs … hello … I have missed you.

What are you guys loving this month?

Brittany XO Signature 2

MAKING THE MOST OF TODAY

I can’t really recall where I came across the below image … probably on Pinterest (what was my life like before you?!), but when I found it … I immediately saved it and knew that I had to share it on my blog.

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

 

For the last couple days, I have been walking around complaining about how “tired” I am. Exhausted from staying out for amazing dinners with friends the night before a wedding …. beat from shooting 10-hours and then meeting my girlfriends for a Saturday night full of dancing … running on “e” because I wanted to fit it all in … work, play, personal time, and r & r. To have it all.

I’ve never been the type of person who is good at slowing down. (I have to schedule an hour of lounging on the couch to read a magazine). I love to be on the go … but I guess it is because subconsciously I just want to make the most out of every moment. To say “yes” to impromptu plans and to one more cocktail with friends because life is always too short.

As the summer days become longer, I promised my self to make the most out of the 86,400 seconds every day as wisely as possible.

Have a great weekend!

Brittany XO Signature 2

GOALS // JUNE

May went extremely fast. I literally feel like I was just typing up my goals poolside in Grand Cayman … excited about the season getting busy. And now, one month into “busy season” … busy it has been. Here’s how I did on my goals for the month.

>>  Spend 30 minutes a week shooting with my new Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro lens. I have been totally, utterly in love with this new lens. I’m actually not sure how I went so long without this … so I have been using this lens a ton. So many gorgeous detail photos coming soon!

>> Contact old clients for quotes about their Brittany Bekas Photography experience. My new website is being coded this next week (yay for the new brand), so I have been in touch with old clients to get their stories/quotes for a new section of the website. Can’t wait to share them with everyone soon.

>> Start a book club. I have a group. I sent out a survey. This club will be starting soon. If you are interested in joining, please let me know …. we have a great group of people already.

>> Build my glamour portfolio. I haven’t had much time to work on my glamour portfolio because I have been focused on the new website, but this is in the works and will be a goal for June too. If you are free for a shoot during the weekday, contact me so we can have some fun.

>> Eat more salad. This has been so fun because I stocked up on so many yummy veggies. Jicama … snap peas … cucumbers … roasted corn … oh my. Lots of salads have been consumed. Phil is digging our healthy dinners + protein  so this will be something I keep doing all summer long. Have any good salad recipes? Let me know.

GRAND CAYMAN WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER SUNSET | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY | CHICAGO WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Now that summer is officially here … I will be focusing on more personal goals than business goals …. here are a few things on my list. Stay tuned for a summer to-do list coming soon.

>> Attend at least one Chicago fest

>> Shoot only with my prime lenses (sorry 24-70 … I still like you…)

>> Launch the new BrittanyBekas.com. For real.

>> Submit at least 3 weddings/shoots for publication

>> Take walks after dinner instead of vegging out on the couch

>> Enjoy one weekday poolside. Guilt free. Reading encouraged. 

Here’s to a great month with 4 weddings, lots of shoots, and one weekend off! :)
Brittany XO Signature 2

CHICAGO WEEKEND FUN + BLEACH TIE-DYING

This past weekend was packed with so much … a wedding on Saturday, Division Street Fest, a family photo shoot Sunday morning … cleaning, grilling and spending much needed quality time with Phil (I am SO excited he is finally home!). But … before my non-stop go, go weekend, I snuck in some bleach tie-dying late on Friday afternoon.

I have been wanting to do this for a couple weeks now especially with all of the bleached clothes that are out in the stores. So I pulled out the bleach and a couple old t-shirts and leggings, and got to bleaching. Make sure you do this outside and wear those rubber gloves (the bleach totally dried out my hands … )

Here’s what you need >>>

BLEACH TIE DYE TSHIRT + LEGGINGS DIY

// Bleach

// Cotton clothing (I used leggings and a couple old t-shirts)

// Rubber bands

// Squirt bottle

// Rubber gloves

// Garbage bag

 

Gather your t-shirt into small little bunches and rubber band each section like the photo below. Pour a little bleach into your squirt bottle and put on those gloves to protect your hands!

BLEACH TIE DYE TSHIRT + LEGGINGS DIY

Take the squirt bottle and drizzle it on different sections of your garment over a garbage bag. It helps to let the bleach drizzle over the item to give it that random messy look. Let the bleach soak into the item for a few minutes, and then rinse the garment in cold water.

BLEACH TIE DYE TSHIRT + LEGGINGS DIY

Pull off all the rubber bands and check out your creation. If you need a little more bleach in some places … drizzle it on the areas. Then rinse again.

BLEACH TIE DYE TSHIRT + LEGGINGS DIY

Make sure you wash your bleach tie-dyed garment in the washing machine alone once you have it how you want. Then … enjoy!

I am obsessed with my leggings … they already made appearance at Division Fest … so don’t be surprised if you see a lot of these this summer.

BLEACH TIE DYE TSHIRT + LEGGINGS DIY

Happy Monday!

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // MAY

BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY | CHICAGO + DESTINATION WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER

1. Mini Peanut Butter Cups : I am absolutely smitten with these mini peanut butter cups Trader Joe’s has. I can grab a handful or two or three, and not feel bad about it.

2. Nashville : I wasn’t a country music fan until I started watching this show. The drama, the fashion, the music. Makes me want to hop on a plane and head right down to music row to hang out at the Bluebird.

3. Shorts with boots : This is the perfect in between seasons look for Chicago. Plus it hides un-pedicured feet.

4. Terrariums + succulents : For the last couple months, I fell in love with succulents. Whenever I would see them I would get so happy. After seeing so many succulents and terrariums on Pinterest, I decided to make my own little terrarium. It makes me blissfully happy each day I look at it. Now let’s hope I can keep them alive.

5. Jodi Piccoult : Jodi is one of my favorite authors … if not my complete favorite author. All of her books leave me turning the pages quicker than I can believe … and each story really forces the reader to contemplate different moral issues. If you haven’t read her, you haven’t read.

Brittany XO Signature 2

HOME

When I woke up this morning, I had one of those moments where you are utterly confused about where you are. You know, the feeling that goes through your mind when you are somewhere unfamiliar. Well, I woke up a little confused … not because I was somewhere were I shouldn’t have been, but because I was somewhere I hadn’t been in so long …

It has been over 21 days since I have been in my bed in Chicago. Between a long weekend in San Francisco and two weeks in Grand Cayman …. I forgot what it was like to be home. In this space. In that room … that is really more like a cave (since it has NO windows). And while it was wonderful to sleep in and have the whole bed to myself … covers and all, my heart broke a little. I woke up a little sad. Sad that I wasn’t going to be exploring a new location. Bummed because I wasn’t going to be near the perfect, aqua water. Heartbroken because I am hundreds of miles away from Phil …..

Phil is learning to be a scuba dive master in Grand Cayman, and after 5 weeks of being away … he will still be gone another 3 weeks. We have shared many months of being in a long distance relationship over the years … but it is so different when you are used to living together and seeing each other … all. the. time.

It is great to be home … but it doesn’t feel like home when someone is missing. I am counting down the days until this little Chicago apartment and my heart feel whole again.

Brittany XO Signature 2

SLOWING DOWN IN GRAND CAYMAN

For the past 13 (yes…. thirteen days), I have been waking up to this every morning.  Sunshine, sand and turquoise water in Grand Cayman. Hello … paradise!

GRAND CAYMAN PHOTOGRAPHY // BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY // CHICAGO + DESTINATION WEDDING + LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER

Phil is here getting certified to be a scuba dive master … and I just had to come to visit him before the busy season kicks off. The long, lazy days have been filled with reading great books (4 to be exact), getting some much needed vitamin d, and wandering the island.

I’ve slowed down. I’m relaxed. And I’m inspired.

I’m sad my time here is about to end (I’m making the most out of the last 2 full days), but I’m beyond excited for all the amazing weddings and shoots that are happening when I return to Chicago.

Brittany XO Signature 2
 

GOALS // MAY

April showers … bring May flowers! I am dying for those May flowers to arrive for all my  sessions/weddings that are happening in May. Despite all the gray, rainy, Chicago days, April was here and now gone … so fast. Probably because I wasn’t really in Chicago for most of the month (nor am I there now). :)

>> Spend more time living. This was my biggest priority this month, and I def made this be the most important thing on my “to-do list”. I had so many coffee dates, lunches, dinners, cocktails and trips … I was always around people and enjoying life. I hope to keep this goal up throughout the rest of the year.

>> Finish BrittanyBekas.com redesign and launch it. Eeekk… Peter, if you are reading this … don’t judge. I was hot, hot, hot on getting my new website designed for about 2 weeks. After lots of indecisiveness, the project was put on hold …. but I promise, I will have a new and improved site in the next few months. Promise.

>> Sell …. prints, books, canvases and more. I have been following up my all my clients explaining the benefits of professional prints and products, and I am seeing that my clients are loving the end product even more.

>> Explore as much of San Fran/Napa as possible. And document everything about it. My 5 nights in San Fran/Napa went so fast … I packed in a ton of the city into a short amount of time. If you missed, the blog post, you can read and see all about my trip here.

>> Spring clean even more. Before I left for Grand Cayman, I spent a whole Saturday morning purging. I threw out so much stuff that we do not use, and it felt wonderful. Traveling only makes you realize how MUCH you have, and how LITTLE you use. So I’m hoping once I get back to Chicago, I can eliminate even more.

CHICAGO + DESTINATION WEDDING + LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY

April was really the last of my “slow” season, so as I kick off May … I know things will be hectic until November. On my list of goals for this month are >>>

>>  Spend 30 minutes a week shooting with my new Nikon 105mm f2.8 macro lens.

>> Contact old clients for quotes about their Brittany Bekas Photography experience. (If you want to send me some love, I would love to share it on my website!)

>> Start a book club. I’ve tried getting into an established one, but I can’t find the right fit … so I am starting my own. Even if it is only 2 people .. :) Want to join? Let me know.

>> Build my glamour portfolio. As my brand grows and my style evolves, I want to refresh my boudoir work to my current style.

>> Eat more salad. As the weather warms up, I love digging into a fancy, swanky salad, so I am aiming to make some yummy green dishes all month long.

Pumped for May.
Brittany XO Signature 2

VISITING SAN FRANCISCO

Last week, I was lucky enough to spend 5 nights in one of my new favorite cities in the states …. San Francisco. After 8 hours of sitting at O’Hare airport …. wondering if my flight was actually going to make it out (I left the night of the awful storms) … I finally boarded the plane. My dear college friend, Cortney, was transfered to California over a year ago, so I was DYING to visit her and explore San Fran and Napa. It was an incredible visit full of amazing photo opts, gorgeous views and lots and lots of yummy wine in Napa. I am completely smitten with this city … and I will need to return again soon.

My long weekend started with a tour of all the different views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Warf. Most tourists only need to see the bridge from one location, but I loved all the different views …. more photo opts for me (and you!).

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYSAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYSAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYSAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYSAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY We toured Alcatraz on Friday afternoon. It was such an interesting experience learning about the prison, the attempted escapes and the way of life within these walls. A definite must if you are visiting San Fran.

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYWhen the prisoners of Alcatraz were allowed time out of their cell, they could look outside a nearby window and see this view.  Nothing worse than seeing what you can’t have.

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY Not quite Chicago, but I do love it …..

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYSAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHYThe only request during my visit besides Alcatraz was a day in wine country …. Napa Valley. Gorgeous views and delicious wines. What else could a girl want?

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY

Cort – I can’t thank you enough for being such a FABULOUS hostess! I had the best weekend in San Fran. I adore everything about your new city. Thanks again for having me there and being such a perfect tour guide, camera assistant/second shooter, and more. xo

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY

SAN FRANCISCO WEDDING AND LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY | BRITTANY BEKAS PHOTOGRAPHY

Brittany XO Signature 2

WHAT’S IN MY BAG

For the past couple weeks, I have been magazine crazed. I can’t stop flipping through the glossy pages, tearing out inspiration, and circling design ideas. You see, I’m currently in the process of rebranding and designing a new website (yay!) … for a look that is more Brittany Bekas Photography than it is right now .. and in the process I have been inspired by so many articles for fun blog ideas … what is in my bag.

I mean, I kindda love seeing what other people have in their purses. There is something relatable about it that makes me feel a little less weird for some of the things I always have with me. So here is a little look into my purse.

Chicago and Destination Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography

[ MICHAEL KORS SNAKESKIN WALLET ] I adore this wallet … and any hint of animal print means I must own it.

[ iPHONE] Between looking up directions (because I am always lost), instagram and my calendar, I spend more time with this than anything else.

[ BUSINESS CARDS ] You never know when you will meet someone or have the chance to enter a great lunch giveaway, so I always have a handful.

[ NAIL FILE ] I am a bit OCD about my nails, so I always have a nail file on me … and I clearly cannot resist the print.

[ MINT GREEN RING ] I can’t get enough of rings right now, but I especially love this one because it was my Grandma Ro’s. I feel like her creativity is with me when I wear it.

[ BOBBY PINS ] I like to pull my hair off my face when I am shooting, so I keep a few spare ones for any hair emergencies.

[ MAC LIPSTICK + GLOSS ] I throw this combo on no matter if I have a full face of make-up or not.

[ CANON CAMERA ] This little guy comes all most everywhere with me. I can never miss a photo opt. And this is a little more discreet than my Nikon.

[ KEYS ] My apartment keys along with two great keychains … my Hawaiian name I got in Maui, Pililiaki, and a vintage key/bottle opener from my dear friend, Jess’ wedding.

[ MARC BY MARC JACOBS GREY LEATHER BAG ] I treated myself to this beautiful leather bag when I got my first “adult” job after college. And every time I pick it up and carry it, it makes me smile to see how far we’ve come together.

What’s lurking in your purse? I would love to know.

Brittany XO Signature 2

QUOTE // WHERE I NEEDED TO BE

When I was younger, I wanted to work at a fashion magazine. Be a writer. Live in New York City. I guess, I wanted to be a little bit of a Carrie Bradshaw meets Rachel Zoe. So when I started to go after these things, and they weren’t what I wanted, I was unsure where I would go next.

I truly never thought, I would become a wedding and lifestyle photographer living in Chicago. Yet … when I wake up every single morning, there is no other job that I could imagine having.

Chicago Wedding + Lifestyle Photographer // I may have not gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be

Just remember, whatever your destiny is … you will find it. No matter if it is a career, home or relationship. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

Brittany XO Signature 2

WHAT’S ON

I’ve been reading tons of magazines lately, and one of my favorite sections is the “What’s On” section in Marie Claire. Who doesn’t want to read about all the little random facts that a person adores. So here is my take on it.

WHAT’S ON MY ……….

COFFEE TABLE // A Picture Perfect Practice by Roberto Valenzuela & Fashion Photography 101 by Laura Jade

TV IN THE MORNING // The Today Show + Kathy & Hoda

RADAR // Visiting San Fran and Grand Cayman

NETFLIX QUEUE // Any psychological thrillers

NIGHTSTAND // Lavender candle, Unbroken, a vintage lamp and word search book

DVR // Revenge, Rachel Zoe Project, It’s a Brad, Brad World, Modern Family, Criminal Minds

BUCKET LIST // Visit Greece, Spain + Africa

WEEKLY GROCERY LIST // Bananas, cheese, turkey lunch meat, berries, pineapple

GO-TO-MENU // Grilled cheese and tomato soup. :)

PERENNIAL TO-DO LIST // Clean the floors

RADIO DIAL // Pandora … Joshua Radin, Jack Johnson, and Train

FEET // Black leather boots

WORKOUT PLAN // Toning up my arms and back. Carrying around 5+ pounds of gear for 10 hours demands it.

IPHONE APP LIST // Instagram, Pinterest, Pandora, and +++

KITCHEN COUNTER // Soda Stream

Brittany XO Signature 2

GOALS // APRIL

I’m so excited for April to finally be here because this month is going to be  whirlwind, and I’m so ready for it. Between my first visit to San Francisco for a much needed trip to see my college friend, Cortney, to a stylized shoot with a great creative team, and another trip to Grand Caymen to visit Phil …. I feel like I’ll hardly be at home.

MARCH // GOALS UPDATE

>> Practice shooting in sh*tty light. After learning from a bunch of amazing photographers and reading a ton of photo books, I have been putting my new knowledge to use. Sure, I may have had to practice with a Budha figure for a lot of my sessions, but it was extremely helpful, and I am feeling like I have a new bag of tricks for April.

>> Spend less time on social media. Hm, well this is hard to judge, but I would say that I spent way less time on social media.

>> Define my brand words. The last half of the month, I have been crazed with rebranding, getting a new logo and updating the look of Brittany Bekas Photography. I am hoping to launch a new and improved www.brittanybekas.com sometime in May, and I’m so excited to softly roll out of the new brand. A more mature, chic, sophisticated look. Think editorial, fashionable and modern.

>> Eat more fruits and veggies. It’s hard you see … because I have this committed relationship with carbs. I felt like I was cheating on them. But I have been working more clean, fresh fruits and veggies into my diet, and I’m hoping to kick the carbs cravings even more this month.

>> Spend one afternoon at the bookstore. I loved this goal when I wrote it, and I loved it when I made it happen 2x this month. I learned a ton just by flipping through some great photography books and turning through the glossy magazine pages. I am hoping to make this a monthly date with myself.

Chicago and destination wedding and lifestyle photography photos

GOALS // APRIL

>> Spend more time living. Instead of stressing about the dirty dishes and laundry or my never ending to-do list … I want to put friends, family and life before the mundane day-to-day.

>> Finish BrittanyBekas.com redesign and launch it.

>> Sell …. prints, books, canvases and more.

>> Explore as much of San Fran/Napa as possible. And document everything about it.

>> Spring clean even more. Yes, including dusting … but mostly learning to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Brittany XO Signature 2

QUOTE // DIFFERENT PERSON

For as long as I can remember, I have been slightly obsessed with quotes. I would search around the internet and make word documents out of my favorite quotes (which despite Pinterest, I still have). I would tear quotes from magazines … I would jot down inspiring things others said. (This love of words could be why I went to school for journalism …)

So when I found this quote a couple weeks ago … I was inspired. Inspired to explore why these few words spoke to me so much.

I'm a different person compared to who I was this time last year

I like to think that every year we are different versions of ourselves. Not new people … but a better person than the person we were the year before. That in the year that passed, we improved, we grew, we changed … for the best.

When I look back to where I was at this exact moment, in a way, it feels a thousand of miles away … maybe because it was. I was living on the island of Roatan, Honduras with Phil. Eating baleadas and dreaming of Brittany Bekas Photography. I had run away from Chicago … from advertising … from a life where I was just going through the motions in order to go outside of my comfort zone to find what was next. I was unsure where my life was really headed … I was a little lost. Worried. Anxious. Yet full of passion. Motivation. I was trying to make a dream into reality …. and now …. as I sit at Starbucks waiting to meet a new client. It is real.

It has been an incredible change. The person who I am today … March 26, 2013 … it really is the best version of myself. I’m happy. I’m inspired. I’m living my dream … freezing moments in time for others. And I only hope that in the year ahead …. I continue to grow, change and mature to an even better Brittany.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // MARCH

Illinois Chicago Destination Wedding + Lifestyle Photography Photos

1. Roberto Valenzuela : Roberto is pretty much one of the most amazing wedding photographers. I have watched his workshops, followed his work, but then I read his book. And I fell in love all over again. I keep flipping through the pages and pushing myself creativity and technically with his practice sessions.

2. Ariella gold cross ring : I found this ring on Nordstrom.com while browsing for something totally different, and the moment I laid my eyes on it … I knew I needed it. Fast forward 6 weeks, and I hardly take it off. Yes, even when I’m at home in yoga pants and a messy bun. It is that cool.

3. Rachel Zoe Project : Do I really even need to explain why I beyond adore this show, Rachel and Skyler’s baby fashion? I have a total girl crush on Zoe. I love her type A++ personality, her major wardrobe and her magnetic energy for all things chic.

4. Homemade Trail Mix : After discovering way to many nuts and seeds lurking in our cabinets, I decided to mix everything into a bag (with pastel m&ms …. I told Phil we had to eat it quick because it was clearly a seasonal mix) for a healthy snack. Let’s just say we went through 3 bags of the mix in less than 2 weeks. This will be my go-to wedding day fuel this season.

5. Elle, Marie Claire, CS, etc : I have a confession. I have become a magazine hoarder. Between the endless inspiration for photo shoots, poses, blog ideas and design aesthetics  I have been buying, reading and never throwing out any of these magazines the last month. Love you Pinterest, but there is something so satisfying about actually having piles of “tear sheets”.

Brittany XO Signature 2

MY LIFE IN IPHONE PHOTOS

I have been really loving my iPhone lately. Like … maybe a little too much. I’ve been snapshot crazed the past month. Here is a little look at my life in between shoots, sessions and editing.

Chicago + Destination Wedding + Lifestyle Photography | Brittany Bekas Photography

Brittany XO Signature 2

5 RANDOM THINGS ABOUT ME

:: I’ve never owned a coffee maker. In fact, I’ve only made coffee 2x in my whole life. I’m a tea/hot chocolate kindda girl.

:: I organize my closet & drawers by style and color. My wardrobe is organized like a department store …. all the vest together, all the tanks, all the blouses, etc … then organized from light to dark in color. I am a little OCD about it.

:: I don’t  can’t cook rice. Every time I attempt it, I burn the bottom so bad that I have to soak the pan for weeks. I’m sticking to the microwavable rice from now on….

:: I’ve never had a cavity. Knock on wood. ;)

:: I have trouble annunciating “ull”. So “pull” actually sounds like “pool”. “Bull” sounds like “bool”. I can’t help it.

Brittany XO Signature 2

BACK TO REALITY

The hardest part about going on vacation is coming home … back to reality of to-do lists, bed-making and cooking. I’ve been a little bit in denial about that fact that I am no longer cruising through the Caribbean. I just unpacked my suitcase this morning … and as I did, I was pretty sad that my black fringe bikini would have to be tucked away in the back of my drawer for many months. (I really hope the groundhog sees himself because I NEED summer already!) For some reason I expect to walk into my kitchen to a buffet of everything I could ever want to eat … only to realize the only food I actually have … I have to make … sigh. Oh, and the bed … let’s just say the throw pillows have been on the floor since I got back.

I miss all the perks of being on vacation and while it is wonderful to be  back at home with Phil (who I missed SO SO SO MUCH) …  I secretly miss being disconnected.  Everyone is always so busy … running from one thing to the next … so it was refreshing to be trapped on a huge ship without access to cell phones and wifi, so that as a family we could actually spend quality time together. No distractions. No interruptions. Well … maybe the temptation from the buffet, but you know what I mean.

It was a great 5 days of exploring, eating and catching some much needed vitamin D with my mom, dad, and brother. Here’s a little look at the trip.

Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography  // Destination Photographer After a full-day of cruising south from Miami … we stopped at my favorite island … Roatán, Honduras.

Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography  // Destination Photographer I was really excited about going back to Roatán because Phil and I LOVED being here, and I wanted my family to see what it was all about. Of course after weeks of sun, it rained during our afternoon in port …. but it was nothing that Sundowners … my favorite beach bar … couldn’t cure.

Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography  // Destination Photographer Aren’t they so cute?! :)

Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography  // Destination Photographer I had to rock my Roatán shirt while I was there … mostly because I wanted everyone to know that it wasn’t my first time there. Yes, I am that girl.

Roatan, Honduras | Brittany Bekas Photography Stop numero dos. Cozumel! This was my first visit … but we had awesome tour guides – my cousin, John and his wife, Libby, who have lived in Playa del Carmen for almost 10 years. They are living the dream. :)

Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination Photographer Cozumel, Mexico | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination Photographer It wouldn’t be a visit to Mexico without some mariachi … now would it?

Cozumel, Mexico | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination PhotographerAfter getting off the ship in Miami, we decided to check out the Florida Everglades. It was a total change of scenery but gorgeous in its own natural way.

Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination Photographer Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination Photographer Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination PhotographerMeet Al … the gator … isn’t he a charmer?!  I thought so.

Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination Photographer The wildlife was incredible … and all of the birds and reptiles were definitely a change of subject than I am used to shooting.

Florida Everglades | Brittany Bekas Photography // Destination PhotographerWell …. I guess it is time to finally make the bed and do some laundry ….

Brittany XO Signature 2

MY LITTLE BROTHER

My little brother turns 25 today … entering the world of the mid-20’s although you would think he is entering his 30’s. For those of you who don’t know Peter, he is really an old soul. Mentally years ahead of everyone else his age. People usually think he is my older brother.

Chicago Lifestyle Photographer | Brittany Bekas Photography

He is as business savvy as they come and he has this amazing get-it-done-now attitude. He graduated from high school a year early and since then has been climbing his way to the stop of the corporate ladder … working jobs that I hardly understand. Over the years, I have turned to him for advice on job offers, 401Ks and to help me crunch all the numbers for Brittany Bekas Photography. He will drop everything to come over and fix the error message on my computer or to join me for one of my less than stellar home-cooked dinners.

He is loyal. Honest. Determined. SO Generous. And he is always thinking of new business ideas or ventures. I swear one day he will be the CEO of his own company … I just hope that the decent banana bread I made him all the years before will allow me access to a seat on that private plane. :)

Brittany Bekas Photography

It’s funny because when we were kids … we did not get along. But now we are like best friends.

So today, on his birthday, as we are dragging our suitcases through Miami to the airport, I want to wish him a great birthday.

Peter – I am not sure how I got so lucky to have you as my brother. You truly are such a great guy, and I hope that this year brings nothing but amazing things your way. Happy 25th!

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS

Obsessions February | Brittany Bekas Photography

1. THE BACHELOR: Don’t judge me, but I can’t get enough of this show. Between Tierra, the crying/fighting and the LOVE … oh, and Sean’s super sexy body (Hello!), I am hooked.

2. TORY BURCH IPHONE CASEDid you know that I am OBSESSED with animal print? No?! J/K. I was itching for a new iPhone case, so when I found this, it was meant to be. My favorite designer + favorite print.

3. COUGAR SNOW BOOTS: When we finally got snow, I knew I would be battling ice covered sidewalks and un-shoveled walkways, so I dug these adorable boots out of my closet, and they haven’t returned since. I mean I even wore them to Joe’s Stone Crab. :)

4. NIKON D600: I splurged on getting a new camera for myself for Christmas and every time I shoot with it I fall more in love with this camera. The photos are amazing …. I don’t know how I worked without this sexy, camera.

5. NORDSTROM GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO SOUP: While I do eat this combo all year, there is something about cold days that make me crave this even more. And Nordstrom’s Cafe hands down has the BEST grilled cheese. It’s on the kids menu. Yes, I order off the kids menu. It is that good.

Brittany XO Signature 2

I’M ON A BOAT

See you later, Chicago, h-ello paradise! I’m leaving behind the cold, Chicago weather for palm trees, sand and baleadas. Yes, I’m cruising through the Caribbean …. on a boat, baby.

Caribbean Beach | Brittany Bekas Photography

 

The only things on my to-do list …. not in order …

1. Drink one fruity cocktail out of a pineapple. Umbrella required.

2. Soak up the sun. And repeat.

3. Read A Devil in the White City and Gone Girl.

4. Indulge = Eat, Eat, Eat. This includes eating as many baleadas in Honduras as one can in 9 hours.

5. Enjoy quality time with my family :)

I’ll try to bring back some sun for you guys. Until then….
Brittany XO Signature 2

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY

Um…I love Valentine’s Day. And it is not necessarily for the reasons you might think like the chocolate (which I do love), the flowers and the romantic gestures that happen on the most love-filled day of the year. I love it for what is celebrates. LOVE.

For someone who, like, adores LOVE … there is no better holiday than a whole day dedicated to it.

Valentine's Day | Brittany Bekas Photography

Over the years together, Phil and I have shared many Valentine’s Days (8 to be exact but who is counting…not me). I have been surprised with gorgeous, red roses at my sorority house, and I have been taken to amazing, romantic dinners. While I loved everything about those V-days, my favorite Valentine’s Day to date was in college when Phil surprised me with a lobster dinner that he cooked himself and chocolate covered strawberries (my absolute favorite). Phil had heard me talking about how I loved lobster a few weeks before Valentine’s Day … so he went out and got some ‘tails and cooked it for the first time ever for me. How cute, right?! It couldn’t have been more special to me because he put so much love and thought into everything.

So today, as we celebrate our 9th Valentine’s Day …. the thing that is most important to me is that I am able to share the day with the man I love so much. But, babe, if you are reading this … don’t feel like you can’t grab some chocolate covered strawberries too. :)

Happy HEART Day, everyone. And to all my lucky ladies out there that get engaged tonight …. I want to hear all about it.

Brittany XO Signature 2

FREEZING MOMENTS IN TIME

Last week, I was invited back to my high school, Addison Trail, to talk to the students about photography and how I built my business. I was super excited about this opportunity but secretly really nervous because I hate public speaking …. like really hate it. I’m the girl who says UM … a lot. But after many, many hours of talking to myself (which, I might add, I am pretty exceptional at doing), I put on my big girl pants and shared my experiences with the high yearbook class.

For those of you who have been following me on this journey, you know that I didn’t dream of becoming a photographer until I got a little lost finding my way after college. However, before that, photography was always a part of my life … just not in the way it is now.

The turning point of when I started to realize how amazing photography is happened when I was a sophomore in high school working on the yearbook. Sure, I joined yearbook to get pictures of me and my friends in the book (who didn’t?!), but I ended up falling in love with capturing the moments for everyone else that I soon forgot about my selfish reasons. I started to love documenting emotions, little moments and the behind-the-scenes.

Heading to my high school prom. I’m in pink on the right.

What I didn’t realize at the time, this crazy “class” that I took during my lunch period was preparing me for life after high school …. life even after college … it was preparing me for the day when I would go after my dream of photography and start this amazing little business. A business that I never intended to have while I was in college but something that found its way to me.

So last Thursday, I shared with the students everything that I took away from yearbook – meeting deadlines, interviewing people, writing stories, working with photoshop, collaborating with a team … and so, so, so much more. But the one thing I really stressed to them was that yearbook gave me the inspiration to create.

It is funny how when you look back on things … it all seems so crystal clear, but in the day-to-day … it is a bit confusing. I would have never know or realized how much yearbook would affect my life until I really looked back on it to tell these students. Little decisions like taking a class dedicated to making a yearbook, shaped me and led me to something so amazing. This business. This life. This passion.

Brittany XO Signature 2

THE DAY I SORTA BECAME A PASTA CHEF…

The first step to any problem is admitting it, right? Well … as much as I like to think that I can cook … that I make delicious, gourmet … ok more like edible meals … I have a confession.

I’m not really that good at the whole cooking thing …

So last week, my mom and I headed to the Cooking Skills Academy in Itasca for a class to get us in touch with our inner guido. Pasta Making 101. Yes, the Italians have never made fresh, homemade pasta.

I was a little worried about how this class was going to go as soon as we walked in and everyone had a bottle of wine but us. I missed the most important part of the class …. BYOB. In the long run it probably was for the best because the last thing I need is for some vino to interfere with improving my cooking skills.

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas PhotographyItasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

Chef Paul was so informative and so fun! Not only did he teach us to make fresh pasta and gnocchi but also how to make two AMAZING sauces. Seriously, the whole time he was cooking them I wanted to just stick my spoon in there and eat it out of the pan (but I’m pretty sure the other students would not have appreciated it.)

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas PhotographyItasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas PhotographyItasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

I honestly had no clue how easy it is to make homemade gnocchi (which is my absolute favorite). Potato, egg and flour. Um, anything that has only 3 ingredients is a good recipe to me. Look out Giada … I might be taking over your gig with my newfound inner Italian.

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas PhotographyItasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography2013-02-04_0030

I swear I am going to be whipping up homemade pasta all the time now. Maybe. (Ok probably not.) But in case I ever end up on Top Chef, I can look back on this experience with my favorite Italian …. my mom … and remember when I first learned how to make pasta.

Itasca Pasta Cooking Skills Academy | Brittany Bekas Photography

Brittany XO Signature 2

GOALS // FEBRUARY

February is one of my favorite winter months. It is the shortest month. It has Valentine’s Day = I will be eating chocolate all month long. And I’m going on vacation!

But before I dive into all my goals for the month, let me share how the first month of 2013 went …

– Develop a consistent social media/marketing plan :: This is a work in progress, but I have started to refine what topics I am posting, what type of content I want to share, and I have a bigger picture for the year. And that was the goal, right. :)

– Blog in advance (aka not the day I need to post) :: I have been picking a day each week to crank out my blogs so I can either schedule them in advance or so I can tweak the night before I post. I have been posting in the morning which means I have ’em ready to go the night before. Whoot!

– Try one new thing a week (food, workout, experience) :: Lots of new things happened in Jan. I made some new recipes, I bought two new bottles of vino, I went to the shooting range and shot a gun (oh yes, don’t mess with me now .. ha), I lunched at Feast, I read 5 new books. I also took a pasta making class with mom (blog post coming soon!) I found myself saying yes and asking people what they had in mind to help me get out of my routine which is why this month felt so long … because I was experiencing things out of the mundane.

Chicago Cooking Academy Pasta Making Class | Brittany Bekas Photography

– Get back to the gym (like everyone else this month…ah ha) :: The perk of the “off-season” is more downtime. Despite wanting to stay inside and avoid the cold air outside, I bundled up in many, many layers and walked my butt to the gym. And I must say, it felt good to be there.

– Finally learn how to use the HD video on my cameras :: I was hoping that by the time I was updating this post, I would have been able to say I started this, but I have not. Sigh. However, I am setting aside 20 minutes each day to start learning this, so I can use it on the Caribbean Cruise I am taking this month.

So, what do I want to accomplish this month? As usual … a lot… but here is a few things.

– Start shooting more horizontal shots! (As I was updating business things, I realized I shoot A LOT of verticals.)

– Get creative without using any photographs and/or my camera/iPhone

Volunteer

– Watch less TV Bravo

– Plan a stylized engagement/wedding photo shoot

– Surprise my past clients with a fun new product. Details to come soon!

Here is to making the shortest month a great one!

Brittany XO Signature 2

A LITTLE LOVE

I love my job. I love everything about it. But what people do not realize is how alone I feel sometimes. When I am not out shooting a session or wedding, I am at my apartment with just myself, my MacBook and Pandora.com (when I write that out it sounds so sad … maybe I should get a dog…hmm). I have built a small network of other creatives to bounce things off of … and poor Phil sometimes listens to me babble about all the ideas in my head when he comes home from work …. but for the most part I make all the decisions … all day long. And sometimes that weighs on me, and I can doubt and worry about the work that I put out there for the world to see. Yes, as I post my photos/thoughts/feelings to my blog and to my Facebook, I sometimes  ok … a lot of times … worry that people will hate my work. As a creative, you never know how people will react.

So last week, when this Facebook note popped up in my inbox from Hillary, a sense of relief along with a huge smile appeared on my face.

Brittany, I just have to tell you that I think you did an incredible job at Kristin’s wedding. Maybe it doesn’t mean much coming from someone that you don’t know – but I feel like compliments are always warranted so I want you to know how I feel. I have been to probably 40 weddings in the last few years and have seen a lot of wedding pictures. People may get a few really good shots in the whole lot of em, but there was seriously not a bad or awkward photo in your album. I can’t stop looking at them. You truly have a gift and your pride in your work is completely evident. I wouldn’t hesitate to refer you to anyone looking for a great photographer. I really enjoyed looking through your pics and your website. I love pictures and wish I had your eye for capturing life – its simply beautiful. Thank you for what you do. 

Riviera Maya Now Sapphire | Brittany Bekas Photography

…. Did I mention that I might have gotten a little emotional … like a tear or two … when I read this? But it is notes like these that give me reassurance about myself, my work, and my business. Hillary … thanks again for being so sweet to write me this note. It means more than you can know.

Missed Kristin’s wedding photos? Don’t worry, you can still see Kristin and Jordan’s Mexican destination wedding photographs.

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // JANUARY

:: ESSIE FRENCH AFFAIR: I had been on the hunt for a color like this, so when Santa dropped it in my stocking, I was immediately in love. I have been rocking this color the last 2 weeks, and I adore.

:: STORAGE WARS: I can’t stop watching this show. Addicted. I have a problem. Every time I watch it, I feel like I am going on a treasure hunt from the comfort of my house. And who wouldn’t want that excitement in their life?!?! I know….

:: CHEX MUDDY BUDDIES AKA “PUPPY CHOW”: Any treat that combines peanut butter and chocolate in one bite is a winner in my mind. I make this for Phil every year as part of his holiday gift … but truth be told …. I make it because I really want it (and usually eat more of it than he does….like the whole bag I just made on Saturday night. ekk). Must get back to the gym. Stat.

:: LEOPARD PRINT SCARF: It’s the type of accessory that I actually find myself planning my outfit around rather than the finishing piece. However, it pretty much goes with everything (or in my mind it does). My other scarves for sure feel neglected ever since this new kid hit the block.

:: MY KINDLEI never knew how badly I needed a Kindle until I had one. I have been a reading manic ever since I got this thing for my birthday, but especially now that it is a cold out. I have been cuddling up in my fuzzy blanket and sweats and reading, reading, reading. Current reads: Girls in White Dresses, Kitchen Confidential, and MWF Seeking My BFF. 

Happy Monday!

Brittany XO Signature 2

 

MY LIFE IN IPHONE PHOTOS

I have a confession. I ALWAYS have some type of camera with me. Sure, I am not normally lugging around my Nikon D600 and lens, but I almost always 2 cameras on me. It makes me feel secure. That I won’t miss any moment.

So here is a little look at all the mundane and exciting things that I find photo worthy in my day to day.

Brittany Bekas Photography | My Life in IPhone Photos

Happy Wednesday!
Brittany XO Signature 2

 

WHAT YOU HAVE NOW

Hi everyone! I kind of went off the grid when I headed to Mexico after the new year for my first 2013 wedding (which I CAN’T wait to share with you all!) I was unplugged … with no internet or cell phone for a week. I must say .. it was amazing to just be instead of checking on Facebook, blogs, and email. But after neglecting my blog for a week, I am finally back!

I wanted to kick off this week with this quote because it is a great reminder to appreciate everything I have. The material possessions, the passion, the small successes along the way.

As important as it is to dream bigger and reach for more, I think it is just, if not more important, to relish in all that you have and achieve along the way.

Hope this sends a little inspiration your way! Happy Monday.

Brittany XO Signature 2

HAPPY NEW YEARS

Last New Years Eve, Phil and I joked with our friends that we were going to book a 3-month trip to South America and Central America. We were sitting at an Argentinean  steak house in Wicker Park … eyeing up so many delicious foods saying well this is what we will be eating for 3 months. Yes, I was going to quit my job, move out of my high-rise apartment and live out of a backpack in countries where I spoke “un poco” espanol.

No one thought we would really do it. But New Years Day hit … and I was hitting “buy” on a plane ticket that was leaving in 21 days for Lima, Peru. It was exhilarating and exciting. I felt like I could take on the world … without really knowing where this adventure would lead.

One year later, I wonder how drastically my life might change in 2013. This past year has been full of incredible life-altering experiences. I hiked to Macchu Picchu, lived in Costa Rica, pursued my dream full-time, worked with amazing clients, and was actually happy … all year. It truely has been the best year for me – ever.

So as I count down to midnight with my bubbly in hand and Phil at my side, I will count my blessings and smile knowing how much can change in just one year.

New Years Eve 2013 - Brittany Bekas Photography

Brittany XO Signature 2

MY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORY

Every year at Christmas eve, my mom tries to mix up the conversation at the dinner table by asking what our favorite Christmas memory is. She has been asking this for as long as I can remember. So much, that now when she asks, each of my cousins answers with someone else’s answer … My Uncle Sino’s favorite was the year he got the red bike, my cousin Matt’s is the year they made a music video….

I’ve never really had a true favorite Christmas memory … until this year. This Christmas Eve, I will say that this Christmas is my favorite because I finally feel complete. I have everything I could want.

Amazing friends and family. The most supportive boyfriend. My passion as a career. My health. A gorgeous apartment in the city. The luxury of travel.

If I received nothing under the tree this year, I would be just as happy with what I already have.

Merry Christmas!

Brittany XO Signature 2

OBSESSIONS // DECEMBER

Now that the temps are actually cooling down, I have been gearing up for hibernation …. entertaining myself with anything in my apartment. Here are my latest obsessions.

:: Fashion Magazines: Ever since I was young, I adored the glossy pages, but this month I have been on their blogs, websites and gobbling (yes… gobbling) up their gorgeous fashion spreads. So much inspiration for posing and branding that Phil has to make me go to bed.

:: Lifetime Movie Network: So, I debated if I wanted to share this with all of you, however I am not that embarrassed that I have been tuning into whatever crazy movies are on this channel – a baby abducted at birth, a wife who kills her husband, a teenage boy who falls in love with a 40-year-old woman …. I love the drama (and sometimes the tears).

:: Dove Dark Chocolate Promises: I think it may be the message inside, but Phil and I have been eating these after almost every meal for the past week. The chocolate is to die for, and I love the little inspirational note. I mean look how few are left?!

:: Faux Fur: Last weekend I went to a holiday party wrapped in a blood red faux fur shawl which was covered by my black faux fur jacket. I joked I was going to drink vodka all night because I was a Russian princess … but I mean, I can’t get enough of it. I wear it any day …. every day…. my faux vests are major with any skinny jeans … and I love to channel my inner Rachel Zoe. I mean, it is ban-an-as.

:: Christmas in Paris Yankee CandleI wanted our apartment to smell like fresh pine without having to deal with a real tree, so when I saw this candle I knew it was the perfection solution. Plus, who wouldn’t want their house to smell like Christmas in Paris (whatever that smells like?!). It is almost out .. good thing xmas in just a few days way.

Happy Friday!

Brittany XO Signature 2

BEING A CHICAGO TOURIST

It is funny to think that even though I have lived in Chicago(land) my whole life … I had NEVER been on top of the Sears (Willis) Tower. I guess it is one of those things as a Chicagoan, I took for granted … well that and my fear of heights made me doubt if it was really something for me ….

But yesterday changed that. My family and I decided to spend the day in the city playing tourists. Stop number one… the sky deck at the Sears Tower. Now, I was slightly worried about this because I thought my fear of heights would kick into high gear, and I would have an anxiety attack right there …. but the views were pretty amazing. And it helped that I wasn’t hanging on the side of a mountain like I was in Peru…

Before we got up to floor 103, I explained that I might not be walking out onto the observation glass. I mean I have limits, people. But when I saw a little 6-year-old walk out there and love every minute of it … I told myself “You will not let that little kid make you look like a baby.” So I pulled up my big girl pants (while gripping the wall … ever so tightly … I mean how could I be sure this piece of plastic could hold my weight?!?!), and stepped out onto the ledge. Here is my younger brother, Peter and I … can see you the fear in my eyes? Yeah, I thought so.

So what got me out there? Well, I didn’t want to admit to the internet that I chickened out … and two … I wanted the silly picture. But let’s be honest here, I was really only out there long enough to get the photos I wanted, and I only had to take 2 steps onto the glass. That way I could jump back to safety if I needed to. :)

After taking in the most incredible views of Chicago and battling my fear of heights, we headed to the Christkindlmarkt, the Walnut Room at Macy’s on State and wrapped up our day at Pizzeria Unos. I told you it was a tourist day. Either way, it was a great day of conquering fears, exploring the city and enjoying the company of my family.

Brittany XO Signature 2

A BEAUTIFUL ROSE

As I shopped with my mom, I kept grabbing anything that glittered or was animal print. The all sequined jacket, the glitzy cocktail dress, the faux vest, the leopord print pants, the huge jeweled statement necklace. Some might say these things …. were … gorgeous … ok more like … gaudy. But I adored them and with each thing I picked out, I knew my Grandma Rose would have also loved them. I joked with my mom that I am truly my Grandma’s granddaughter.

Grandma Ro was one incredible lady. She made the most AMAZING pound cake. She had the best cocktail jewelry and LOVED to shop for snazzy accessories (especially watches) and clothes. She was a people person who loved to entertain and socialize. She was super creative  … she made clothes, jewerly, crafts, plates and more. She even owned her own hat store years ago where she made custom hats! And I mean how beautiful was she on her wedding day….such a timeless photo.

She is a lady that I miss every day … but even more today. She passed away nearly 3 years ago. Today would be her 93rd birthday.

Some of the last conversations we had were about how unhappy I was at my advertising job … And now here I am … living my dream.  I know that she would be so proud that I took the leap to fulfill my passion.

So today, rather than feel my heart ache that she is no longer here, I remember how special she was and how I carry a little piece of her with me … in my work and in my style.

 

GOALS // DECEMBER

Ok. I’m not going to lie …  I am getting pretty anxious that 2013 is less than 31 days around the corner. I can’t believe how FAST this year has gone by … and I still have so much I want to accomplish and cross off my ever growing list.

– Work on one personal photography project. My personal project is in the works. Yay! I partnered up with Annie from AK Style & Edit to start concepting and bring this shoot to life!

– Cook two dinners a week: Hmm… cooking. Not really my thing. Between Thanksgiving and Phil getting a nasty, nasty bug, we weren’t eating too many home cooked meals. Eek.

– Spend time with one friend I haven’t seen in a long time: I fit in a lot of afternoons and evenings with friends where we just talked. I spent one night laughing about Lapso Alpsos with my cousin Heather. I had a Quartino’s date with my new photographer friend, Cassandra. I caught up with my dear friend Molly and finally got to see Lindsey’s beautiful new condo!

– Post at least one personal blog post a week: I was much more on top of this, this month. I found myself walking around the city brainstorming fun personal blog post ideas. So the next few months, you will be seeing more posts about my life .. not just my work.

Now for my December goals … here we go.

– Update all of my lifestyle pricing including offering new products.

– Launch my 2013 Senior Model Program.

– Shoot that personal project.

– Go ice skating.

– Just be.

Here’s to making it an amazing last month of 2012.
Brittany XO Signature 2

 

SOMETHING OLD

Last week marked the kick off of holiday shopping. As everyone was out buying something new … new Christmas decorations, new iPads, new clothes, new sheets…. I was at my parents house going through the old. Eliminating. Purging. Making room for … life … so that we could all actually live instead of being overwhelmed by … stuff.

In the process, my Dad dug out something that I never even knew we had in my 27 years of being at their house. A 1930’s art deco vintage Kodak film camera. I swooned when I layed eyes on this. I, in fact, coddled the beautiful camera like it was a small baby. Love at first sight.

My grandfather, who passed away when I was a baby, and my grandmother, who passed away when I was in college, owned this camera. While it is not necessarily a valuable collectors item, it means the world to me because it is something I can look at and be reminded of them.

Sometimes the best “new” things are really just something old.

Brittany XO Signature 2

LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE

For the past few days, what would you do with your winning lottery money has been a popular topic. As I asked my friends and parents yesterday what they would do with the dinero, we dreamed up the amazing vacations we would take … traveling around the world to exotic places and far away lands. Thailand, Moccarco, Brazil, Fiji … the list went on and on.

While everyone wanted something different, the one common theme was that they would all quit their jobs and just live. No more bosses, no more of the daily grind of 9 to 5. They would just retire and live. It never crossed my mind to quit. Instead, I thought of the list of gear on my Amazon Wishlist that I could finally buy (everything is still available if you need a Christmas gift..ha). How I could purchase some amazing frocks, flats and animal print blouses to rock at weddings. How I would get amazing marketing materials printed…..but never once did I think I would stop being a lifestyle photographer….

You see, I have found a job that really, truly does not feel like work. And when you find that, you have found something amazing. This print from Heartfish Prints hangs above my desk and reminds me every. single. day. how lucky I am to be doing what I love.

 

 

THANKSGIVING

Ek, so I know today is techically “Black Friday”, and I had every intention of posting my Thanksgiving post on … well,Thanksgiving. However, even after trying to write this post in advance, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to say to you, internet. I literally wrote about five different posts in the last week and nothing felt “right”.

Every post included so, so many things that I am EXTREMELY grateful for … amazing friends, always-there-for-me family, a beautiful Chicago apartment, my health….but the one thing that was always the focus was the thing I am most thankful for this year.

I am so thankful to be doing what I love.

A year ago, I didn’t think I could ever be this lucky. I work with the best clients. I get to document the most special moments. I am living what I love. And how could I not be uber thankful for that?

 

OBSESSIONS // NOVEMBER

For those of you who know me, know that when I like something, I really like it. To the point where I am obsessed with it until I practically hate it. Like the one year in college where I ate peanut butter and banana toast every.single.day. for the whole year.

Here is what I can’t get enough of right now.

:: SodaStream: I love bubbly … especially bubbly water. So when I got this for my birthday, I knew I would be drinking it all.the.time. It is pretty amazing!

:: Scramble with Friends: My addiction for this game started in January when I played regular scramble on my iPhone in Central America. We didn’t have internet and it was a game we could play while we waited for things – cabs, buses, dinner, etc. So when I downloaded Scramble with Friends, I knew I was in trouble. I play it when I get up until I have NO tokens left at night. I’m not even that good….but I challenge you to a game. ;)

:: Homeland: Phil downloaded this Showtime show over the weekend, and we watched the whole first season in 2 days. Now that I am all caught up, I’m anxiously awaiting the next episode. Is Agent Brody really helping the CIA? Will there be another attack? Oh the suspense… did I mention how I am anxiously awaiting for the new one?

:: Victoria Secret Chicago Bears Hoodie: Since Fall has kicked off, I can’t keep myself from putting on this comfy, soft hoodie when I’m running errands or at the house editing. It is just so soft.

:: String Cheese: Um…I love cheese. A lot. Probably too much. But cheese that you can play with…. I adore. I have been snacking on this almost everyday … sometimes multiple times.

Happy Friday!