Emily + AJ | DoubleTree by Hilton wedding, Bloomington, Illinois

Some brides are planners and have everything completed to perfection — they make it look easy! Emily was one of those brides, which in turn made my job easy! (It may or may not have had something to do with her Apple Watch that she disguised with a pearl band for the wedding!) ;) She built a stellar timeline, had extra hands to help throughout the day, and organized a flawless wedding day from start to finish. It was hotter than blazes outside, but we actually didn’t spend too much time outside. We did all the pre-ceremony stuff inside the church, and there was one long hallway full of windows that came in super handy. After the ceremony, we spent about an hour outside, but it went by quickly with everyone cooperating well so we could get done and back into the AC! Emily + AJ, and their whole wedding party were troopers for sure!

The Bloomington DoubleTree was bathed in purple uplighting, and I loved the floor-length crystal chandeliers that set the dance floor off from the rest of the room. Sunflowers are such statement flowers and I love using them for ring photos and of course photographing bouquets with them. They really are a happy flower! I borrowed a 20mm wide angle lens to play with a bit at this wedding, and several of Emily + AJ’s portraits were taken with it. I really like the look of those images and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked using it.

Congrats again to the happy couple! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage, Emily + AJ!


Ceremony | St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington, IL

Reception & Catering | DoubleTree by Hilton, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Cake | Hy-vee Bakery, Bloomington, IL ; Amy Hayes

Florist | Forget Me Not Flowers, Bloomington, IL

DJ or Band | Mc Fyr Doc | Facebook

Instrumentalists | Judy Tavernor

Officiant | Father Dustin Schultz

Bride’s dress retailer | Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique, Peoria, IL | Instagram

Bride’s dress designer | Ella Rosa | Instagram

Bridesmaid dresses | Dillards | Instagram

Suits/Tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse | Instagram

Jeweler(s) | Jack Lewis Jewelers, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Videographer | Video Dreams Productions, East Peoria, IL

Hair & Makeup | Fox and Hounds Salon, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Uplighting | Prospect Sound and Lighting, Peoria, IL | Instagram

Photographer: Holly Birch Photography, Illinois-based photographer available for destination weddings

Chandi Kesler Photography : Bloomington, Illinois newborn photographer

Chandi Kesler is a new photographer friend of mine that does an amazing job photographing newborns. She is based out of Bloomington, Illinois, and since she blogged my new baby Hadley's session today (with an appearance by big brother Maximus!), I'm taking this opportunity to tell you a little bit about Chandi too. Here are a few questions I asked Chandi about her business, along with some images of my sweet baby Hadley! HBP: How did you get started specializing in newborn photography? CKP: I actually didn't start out this way. I used to fear newborn sessions - there was so much to worry about and there were no redos. I saw a challenge though. I loved newborns - their smell, their pureness, their tiny features and everything they meant to their proud parents. I took a hands-on newborn workshop in 2012 and decided I was going to face my fear head on. Since then, I have worked on rebranding and focusing my business around newborns. I love every second of it, even if it is a challenge.

HBP: What is your favorite thing about photographing newborns? CKP: That's hard to narrow down. If I had to choose just one thing, I would say it is the feeling I get when providing parents with their gallery. Some if them cry, most of them say their heart melts, and all of them fall in love. It's knowing that you have captured something so pure, new and beautiful that parents will treasure for a lifetime.

HBP: What do you think sets you apart from other newborn photographers? CKP: My style. I love organic, muted colors and minimalistic props. My newborn sessions focus on the newborn and all their sweet, perfect features. I am also a perfectionist by nature and I feel like this is displayed in my work.

HBP: What is the most important thing for parents to know prior to going into their session? What is the most surprising thing that people don't realize ahead of time? CKP: Preparation. It is the single most important aspect of a successful and smooth newborn shoot. I provide each client of mine with a detailed prep guide prior to their session so they know exactly what to expect. The most surprising thing that people don't realize is that scheduling your newborn session occurs while you're pregnant. This is because newborns are best photographed between 4-12 days after birth.

Snowy engagement session | Bloomington, IL engagement photographer

Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photographyScheduling Sarah & Kevin's engagement session turned out to be quite a hassle, but we finally nailed down a time to get it done! When Sarah first contacted me about photographing their fall 2010 wedding, she was very excited about their engagement session and had two requests: 1) she wanted it on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University (where they met), and 2) she wanted it when there was snow on the ground. Now with as much snow as we've had this year, you wouldn't think this would be a problem, but we came upon just about every setback you can imagine! I'm very happy with the way the photos turned out though, and I hope my readers and Kevin & Sarah enjoy them too!

The adorable pooch in the first photo is their "daughter" Madison. The poor little thing was shivering even though we only had her out for about 5 minutes, but she did a great job and got Sarah the exact shot she was hoping for!

Oh, I almost forgot... this was also the first session where I got to use my new 24-70mm f2.8 Nikon lens... and I LOVE IT. Can't wait to use it on all my weddings this year!

Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Sarah warned me that taking pictures is "not exactly his thing," but Kevin did great and didn't seem to tense at all. This is why I love engagement sessions too, because it gives the couple a chance to get comfortable in front of my camera prior to the wedding day. Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography I LOVE the way this one turned out of Sarah's bling: Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Ooh, and this one too! Pretty! Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Sun, snow, blue skies, happy couple... you can't ask for much more than that! And this just reinforces the fact that engagement sessions are one of my absolute favorite things to photograph! Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Does anyone else think that Sarah resembles Kate Beckinsale here? I'm thinking Kate in Serendipity... Snowy Engagement Session | Normal, IL photography Thanks for a fun shoot, you guys! Can't wait until your October wedding!

Also, for those keeping score at home... I'm now at 30 weeks in my pregnancy (and was when I did this session!). Will post belly pictures soon!