Their spirit

When I teach my workshops, I teach the technical stuff…shutter speed, ISO, aperture, composition, perspective, RAW vs. JPEG, white balance, file storage, editing.

But first. I  teach you to shoot with passion, with heart, with positive energy. I encourage you, the Mom, the Dad, the photographer of the family, I encourage you, the documenter of your child’s life, to have vision, to make your vision happen and mostly, to capture the precious details. The details we forget about when we are old and gray and wishing for something to see that we can clutch to our hearts, to help us remember the beautiful life we have lived.

those silly pajamas, the soft ones that kept your child warm for years. the puppy that traveled to every store and every restaurant and every car ride. the one that comforted your child during illness.


the way the light hit their hair in the morning sun.


the crinkled nosesORD_5425_1

those precious eyelashes. the kissable lips.ORD_5427_1

the silly, quiet, private, tender moments.ORD_5431_1

the sweet love held between two people. two people you created.ORD_5437_1

the security felt between them.ORD_5440_1

and that laughter. that smile. that mouth. you see the photo, you can hear the laughter and feel the love as it makes your heart explode into the happiest little pieces.ORD_5443_1

Photography is about dreaming, capturing, loving what you are creating. these images, whether you scrapbook (not me) or you print and toss them into a box (me), these memories aren’t just for you. they are stories to be told for generations to come.

Just make them the prettiest stories possible.

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February 3rd

Today I have a day at home with my two littles. The bigs are at school and the sitter got stuck in Florida, thanks to the 16 inches we received yesterday. I still have work to do today but I’ve decided to take some time documenting part of our day. Each hour I’m hoping to post a few images from the previous hour.


9a-10a Playdoh and people watching



Hour two was pretty uneventful. They played playdoh for a reallllly long time and Harper chewed on a bone. So, I ate a banana, answered a few emails and edited photos. The biggest tip I have for Moms when photographing their children is to not interrupt or instruct. Let them be and shoot away.



The day just gets busier and busier. And maybe messier and messier but we’ll think about that later. I’m still thoroughly enjoying myself as I capture my loves but I’m shooting more which is creating more work.

In this next hour, I think you’ll find me following my own rule of “you don’t always have to capture a face.” As a Mom, I want to capture my children’s lives for them, as a way to document the things they can’t remember. I want to have the type of photo that they’ll look at twenty years down the road and exclaim “I totally forgot about that toy! I used to play with it all the time!” It’s my job as a Mom and Photographer to make these photos pretty.

We laughed so hard when Clara was getting dressed. She couldn’t get her nightgown off or her shirt on. She’s such a fun sport, she just laughed and laughed and I just laughed and snapped. An awesome memory right there.



Again, an hour that sped by. We ate lunch and nutella. Eli told me that for his birthday, he wanted 100 spoons filled with nutella and he wants it wrapped in Nutella wrapping paper. I can’t help  but think that sounds like a fine gift. I once found Eli with his fist stuck in a jar of nutella. He is clearly related to his mother.

In between meals and trains and snacks, the kids seem to be very interested in Legos. And jumping on couches.



We dance a lot in this house. Dance parties are our favorite. Dance parties on the bed? Clara and Eli absolutely love. When I got Clara out of bed today, I told her that we would have a dance party after lunch and she started cheering and hugging me. It was my favorite.



Clara still takes naps, which I love so very much. From 3p-5pm is quiet time in our home. Even the big kids stay quiet after their homework is done. Eli usually plays on his Kindle or PLAYS LEGOS or watches TV. It could very well be my favorite time of the day, when my home is still but full of the people I love with all of my heart.

This was the last hour I documented, for two reasons, 1) I have work to do and this was a lot of work. 2) the bright sun was fading and my light was dim. But my heart, my heart was definitely not.

Eli sings a song to her before bed. I tell her “Good night, sweet pea.” She replied “I’m a baby.” You’ll always be my baby, Clara. Always. Always. Always.




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Nancy Collins - February 3, 2015 - 9:29 pm

They are just the cutest little people ever. Love them!!

Ellerthorpe Family – fall beach session | northwest indiana + chicagoland photographer

So, we have about ten inches of snow already on the ground with no end in sight…I’ve decided to take stroll down memory lane to  time when we thought 60 degrees was cold.

Hands down one of my favorite sessions of 2014 with one of my favorite families. Enjoy!


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Pat Winter - February 1, 2015 - 7:20 pm

Beautiful photography. What lovely shots of the whole family. Emma’s expressions are priceless. Excellent backdrop, Lake MI.

Anna turns 12!

Today we celebrated Anna’s birthday. It’s hard to believe that 12 years ago today, she made me a mama. I love that she’s the one who taught me what it’s like to love something bigger than I’ve ever loved before. I love that she was my first baby to reach out to me to make her feel better, to make her feel loved, to make her feel like she was safe. I love that this girl, cuddled in my arms, as a baby, completely oblivious to the fact that I was soaking in every detail of her, from her tiny nails to her little toes, to the way her scent made my heart swell. I love that her love and her heart led me to know that she would some day be a big sister.

And friends, she is such a good big sister. She’s a mama at heart, always making sure everyone is okay, sometimes it drives me crazy because she worries too much but I love that she just wants everyone to be okay…she’s passionate, confident (but not overly so), she’s herself (which I love with all of my heart) and this girl is so, so funny. (and adventurous, I can not forget her courage and desire to try new things.)

I’m posting this late on her birthday, we’ve had a great day celebrating this wonderful girl. Last night, she and I sat down and I asked her a few questions, as I’ve done every year since she turned 4. Enjoy.


So, Anna…what’s tomorrow? My birthday.

How old are you going to be? 12 Are you excited? Yes, because when I’m older I can do different things.


What are you planning to do tomorrow? I plan to hang out with my cousin Jenna and my Mom is making me another cake and it’s going to be yummy and I’ll get more presents and a few people will come over.

What happened today? We had a birthday party and I got a lot of stuff and I was able to hang out with Jenna a lot.

Who is Jenna? Jenna is my best friend/cousin in the whole wide world.


Tell me about Jenna. She is funny, she gets me, we have the same interests and she’s pretty. She lives in Michigan.

How are you two able to stay close? We text each other and sometimes we Face time. Without that technology, would you guys still be close? Yes, we would send letters to each other. We would still be really close.


Can you tell me three things you loved about the year you were 11? I went to a One Direction concert. I went to Six Flags and New York and Gulf Shores. That’s four things.

If you could anything tomorrow to celebrate turning 12, what would you do? Spend the day with Jenna and Jenna’s Mom and my Mom.

What was your favorite song of this past year? I’ll name two : Steal my Girl and Night Changes by One Direction.


What’s your favorite food? APPLES. Is there a specific kind? Yes, I like fuji and jazz apples. How many do you think you eat in one week? At least 15. Which is why we always run out.

What’s your favorite meal? Taco salad.

And your favorite dessert? Cake and frosting.


Do you like that your Mom is a photographer? Yes, because she takes amazing photos and she’s really good and she meets lots of talented people. Her studio is really pretty.

Do you ever get to work with her? Yes, sometimes. I carry the props and help get the kids attention. One time I helped prepare her studio for a workshop.


Do you have a crush? Yes. Do you want to tell everyone who it is? Yes. Who is it? AnSel Elgort from The Fault in Our Stars

Do you like that your Dad likes video games? Yes, sometimes if we really want a game, he’ll let us get it. He plays a lot of different games with us.


What do you do in your spare time? I love to rainbow loom. How many bracelets do you think you make in a week? I’m not sure, maybe ten a week. I also love to watch the Weather Channel.

What’s your favorite subject? Band and social studies.


What’s your favorite state? That’s obvious. Let me think…Nevada. Utah. New Mexico. Oregon. Connecticut. Massachusetts. Alabama. New York and Illinois.

And Wisconsin.

AND ARKANSAS and of course Hawaii and Alaska.


Favorite color? Purple.

Favorite TV show? Weather Channel

Favorite Band? One Direction


What do you plan to be when you grow up? A meteorologist.

What are you most excited for in this upcoming year? I’m a little excited for middle school and summer.

How much do you love your mother? A lot. Like, an infiniti a lot.


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Kellyn - January 26, 2015 - 12:53 pm

A very Happy Birthday to Anna!!

Jen tse - January 26, 2015 - 1:44 pm

So so sweet!

Stillmary - January 26, 2015 - 7:54 pm

What a great interview with an amazing girl. The pictures are incredible too! I loved it so much!

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