Friday Fancie :: Start to Finish

I have a nail polish problem. It didn’t seem that bad until I started digging the polishes out from random places within my closet (like in a container of first aid stuff….I guess that could be needed in an emergency?!). And it was when I had them all lined up on the floor that I realized I’m addicted to nail polish. 58 bottles. Does that mean I should scratch my list of the six colors for spring. Ekkkk….

However, despite the plethora of colors to choose from, my favorite of them all is my OPI Start to Finish nail polish. A must have for any manicured or unmanicured nails.

This little guy is my Friday Fancie this week because:

1. Um…start to finish? Who needs/wants to dig around through their stash of bottles looking for the base coat and then a top coat. With this, you pull out one bottle, and it is out. No more smudging those pretty polished tips searching.

2. Two-in-one is pretty great, but this magic bottle is also a nail strengthener. One less thing you need to worry about.

This is a must for any nail polish collection…especially for my brides who are sporting their stunning sparkles.

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you have a fab weekend.


Downtown St. Charles Engagement :: Karen + David

They both knew of each other, but they didn’t know each other…yet. David and Karen hung out in the same circle of friends, but it wasn’t until Karen was persuaded into celebrating a friend’s birthday in Chicago over four years ago that she really talked to David. However, Karen still had a month left of school to finish at Northern Illinois, so the distance did not allow the two to get into a relationship right away. It wasn’t until the week before Karen’s college graduation, when David visited her at school with two of their mutual friends that the sparks went off between them. It was official. Karen and David started dating.

Karen is bubbly, care-free and at times, a complete goofball. David is patient, loyal and somewhat of a romantic. They compliment each other perfectly. The yin to the other’s yang. Over the years, the two traveled have to Riviera Maya, Arizona, the Grand Canyon, and Breckenridge together. Snowboarding. Hiking. Biking. Exploring. Always by the other’s side.

They still act like teenagers in love for the first time. Catching glances of each other across the room. Sneaking little kisses when no one is looking. Holding hands down the street. Their love is contagious.

Karen and David will marry at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in River Forest in October. We met in downtown St. Charles for their engagement sessions, and I couldn’t have had more fun with this adorable, fun-loving couple. Here are a few of my favorites……

To see more of Karen and David’s engagement session, feel free to CLICK HERE for a slideshow or view it here…

Photographic Lessons Learned Traveling Through Central America + Peru

Over the last two months, I lugged a backpack I packed to the brim with my possessions through Peru and Central America. I was on a adventure. What I was looking for? A lifetime experience. I hiked through the Andes mountains. Explored the mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu. Practiced yoga on a pier in Utila. Spent the day with monkeys and sloths in Costa Rica. Surfed in the Pacific. Ate authentic rice and beans in Nicaragua.

I relaxed. I touched. I saw. I photographed. Anything that was beautiful, inspiring and made me feel alive. I fell in love over and over again with photography. Here are some of the things I learned behind the lens.

Imperfect weather sometimes makes for perfect photos

My first day in a new city is always my favorite day to photograph. However our first day in Cusco, Peru came with rain and clouds, so I was somewhat disappointed. But I continued to shoot and ended up with this fierce image of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.

Beauty can be found in the most simple moments

For 28 days, I walked past the same flower in Quepos. And each day, as I walked past it, I smiled and admired how something so simple could be so gorgeous. I knew I had to preserve the flower’s beauty to admire for days to come by capturing it on my camera.

It is the thing that everyone else overlooks that can be the most intriguing

We hiked for 10 hours through the Peruvian jungle with our sights set on Machu Picchu. As the group forged ahead (because they were miles ahead of me), I looked to my right and noticed the vibrant, colored bug. How had everyone passed this amazing creature without drawing attention to it?

Be ready for the unexpected and do not hesitate to seize it

I was fortunate enough to see my fair share of stunning sunsets over tranquil waters while on our trip. So many, in fact, that I had stopped photographing them, but as I watched the sun dropping in the sky in Quepos, Costa Rica like many time before, the sky turned into a purple and pink watercolor that made you fall in love with sunsets all over again.

Sometimes it is less about where you are and more about who you are with 

While there is something magical about being in a foreign place, it was my time spent with two of the most important men in my life – my boyfriend and my only brother – that inspired me to create this photo of our first surf lesson in Jaco, Costa Rica.

Away from the chaos, you gravitate to the things you truly love

Walking along the beautiful beaches of Roatan, Honduras, I found myself lost behind my camera, grinning ear to ear, as I took photos of palm trees and turquoise water. As I did this, I fell deeper in love with my art and photography.

Patience can lead to perfection if you are willing to wait

I knew I could not leave Manual Antonio Natural Park (Costa Rica) without some photos of the white-faced monkeys. I found an area with some monkeys but they were swinging back in the trees making it hard to get the shot I wanted. As I was waiting with my camera, this monkey gained enough trust in me to get close to me for this shot.

There is a story to be told with what may appear mundane 

I noticed these women walking through the streets of Cusco. To others, they had just finished a days work of selling products on the streets, but in my eyes, this was a moment to capture the daily lifestyle of these Peruvian women.

When you are at a loss for words, photograph it

After 3 days of biking, hiking and crossing the roaring river in a metal basket (don’t ask), we made it to Machu Picchu. There is no real way to describe the awe, wonder, and mystery when you are there, so I did what I did best….photographed it.

I learned so much while traveling, but one of the most important things I took away from my trip was to let myself be inspired by the world around me, and in doing this, I will create stunning images to share.