lifestyle photographer

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY BABY K - South Bend Indiana + Michigan Family Photographer

Whenever I get an inquiry for a family documentary session, my heart does a happy dance! This one was no exception. This sweet family of three had such a fun story of their lives and they wanted to celebrate their normal through candid family photos.

When I asked Mom to tell me about her family, she responded, “P… and I have been together for almost 8 years, married for 3, and we welcomed our beautiful last November. P… is from Ohio and I am from Ireland, where K was born. We moved to South Bend … and P works at Notre Dame. I am at home with K full-time and also do some freelance writing. We are both historians, so there are a lot of books around the house and we read with K a lot. K is a confident, energetic, happy baby. He loves chatting, crawling around, going on the swing, standing up on anything that will hold his weight, and anything that won't. He likes to potter around in the kitchen when mummy is cooking or clearing up. He has his own kitchen which his grandma bought him for his birthday and which he really likes too (although not as much as the real thing...) His latest favorite activity is climbing the stairs, especially if mummy is chasing him, and he hates being prevented from doing so by the stair gate. He loves eating, pulling out all the kitchen implements and making a lot of noise, and "reading" his many books. His favourite teddy is Lion and he is very good at giving Lion hugs. He loves horsing around with his daddy which makes him laugh a lot, and he gets very animated when we play good music and he can dance along and clap his hands. He has also always had very good fine motor skills and he loves pressing buttons, playing with his ring stacker, etc.”

What I love about documentary family sessions is that they allow all of these sweet milestones, stories and moments to be captured in a beautiful way. Nearly everything mentioned above is showcased in this fun gallery and I hope this family enjoys looking at these as much as I enjoyed taking and editing them!

WELCOME BABY DAWSYN - Indiana Newborn Photographer

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This family. Where do I even start?

They were my VERY FIRST family documentary clients! They trusted me before anyone else to capture memories of their sweet daughter in the throws of their dream-house renovation project. They quickly grew to be more than just clients but friends! Fast forward a few years and a few more sessions down the road and I had the privilege of documenting their sweet second daughter, Dawsyn.

I was so excited when I got Mom’s initial message inquiring about newborn sessions and the chance to see their oldest girl become a big sister. After Dawsyn’s arrival, I anxiously awaited the call to come and meet her! And when I did and I walked into their farmhouse, the first thing I thought: “Holy moly, they’re identical!” Dawsyn looks JUST like her big sister! My heart melted immediately. Big sister was so excited to show me her new baby and it was obvious that while she still wanted (and needed) Mom and Dad’s attention, too, she was a huge helper in the family now.

Capturing these moments for this family of four was such a joy and I truly hope I get to continue on their journey with them. Thank you, F Family, for allowing me into your lives all this time.

MOM & MINIS FAMILY - Lifestyle & Documentary Family Photographer, South Bend, IN

Beginning this photography journey has brought me many blessings; some expected and some not so expected. Two of those blessings are the opportunity to volunteer for House of Hopes which is an AMAZING philanthropic photography group and the other is meeting new friends. One of those friends I happened to meet through my work with HoH. While it was a sad situation that brought us to the same spot, I am so grateful that after 12+ hours in a L&D lobby together resulted in a great friendship with another amazing photographer.

When T reached out during one of our many photography and parenting centered conversations and asked if I would be interested in doing a documentary lifestyle session for her and her girls, I was beyond excited for so many reasons. First, her girls are awesome. Like they are legitimately cool kids! Second, I love having the opportunity to document families of all ages. Sessions tend to revolve around little kids and then taper off as they grow up and that’s so unfortunate. So to have the chance to capture some memories of school age kids was awesome! Third, I could totally relate to her reasoning.

She expressed how she was suddenly seeing all of these leaps and bound in growth and maturity in her girls and she recognized that they would soon be entering new phases and she wanted to commemorate the everyday innocence and routine that has been theres for a while now. Watching my own daughter grow at light speed makes me completely sympathetic to this situation and I was more than happy to capture their “normal.”

And so, with all of that being said, I just want to thank T for letting me into her home and her life and capture these moments of homeschool and girl bonding for her! I hope they bring a smile to all of your faces for years to come.

M & B ENGAGEMENT - Indiana Wedding and Engagement Photographer

This super sweet couple will be my first wedding after maternity leave and I couldn’t have chosen a better fit to dive back into 2019! Getting to know them at their engagement session was a total blast and between having totally epic light, a gorgeous dress on the bride-to-be and a fiance who was clearly crazy about his future wife, it was a perfect equation for some gorgeous photos.

As we talked about how they met and what their wedding would be like, we took full advantage of the changing leaves, golden fields and amazing sunset. I wasn’t especially fond of the snake that crossed our path when we headed to a different location and I may have shouted a few choice words and hoped it wouldn’t send me into early labor (can you tell I love snakes?) but they took it in stride and laughed at my panic. But it was totally worth it because just look at these gorgeous engagement photos they were able to get!

M & B, I genuinely can’t wait for your March wedding at Bread and Chocolate and I hope you love these e-session photos as much as I do!

WHICH TO CHOOSE: FRESH 48 OR NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY? - South Bend, Indiana Newborn Baby Photographer

Ah, the tricky question: do you choose a Fresh 48 or Newborn session? Which one is right for you? It's a great question and I hope that this post might lend some thought points that may help you make the best decision for your baby! Here are some questions to ponder:


When you think about what you want documented, one of the main things to consider is whether you want to remember those very first moments with your baby and as a parent to this tiny human or if you want to remember those first days in your home with the newest addition. It's a tough choice but one that is usually pretty clear in our minds when we stop to think about it.


As much as it pains me to put this one out here, it is worth considering. Some people prefer to give baby a few days to move beyond the brand-new-baby blemishes, head molding and their own appearance after having just brought a new life into the world. At the same time, many people love these factors and find them honest and endearing (this is me, just FYI). So stop and consider whether you find all of the tiny "imperfections," a beautiful and priceless thing to be remembered or something you'd prefer to skip and have the time to refresh and recover. 


If you are one of those people who painstakingly choose every detail of their child's nursery (cough cough, me again) and strive to make it a place that they will immediately feel loved, cherished and calm, then a newborn session may be the best option for you. Hospitals and birth centers offer little to no control over your environment so you may end up with a bright orange wall in the background of your photos whether you like it or not. If this is something that gives you the shudders just thinking about that lack of control, a newborn session may be more fitting since you can document your own home and preferences that more accurately reflect you.


Often, there are specific family members or siblings who you can't wait to introduce to your new baby. If this is the case, a Fresh 48 session is the way to go. These are moments that you cannot recreate and are often so beautiful and priceless. Not to mention, documenting your own reactions as a parent seeing your other babies meeting their new sibling or to your parents holding their newest grandchild is a truly momentous moment that make a wonderful keepsake.


This is obviously my suggestion since I'm a crazy picture lady! It may not seem logical to have both Fresh 48 AND newborn photos taken because they usually take place within 10-14 days of each other. But hear me out first! If you have already had a baby, you know what I'm about to say is true and if you're a first time parent, take my word that this statement is accurate: your baby changes DAILY. In those first few months, you will wake up and smile down at your new baby and be amazed because somehow, they truly changed overnight. You blinked and they're a little bit bigger, a little bit more mature. It's uncanny (and slightly heartbreaking) but its true. Having both Fresh 48 and newborn photos allows you to see those changes and also lets you document those first sweet moments and also gives you the control of photographing your child in their own environment. It's a win win and totally worth it. 


BABY L'S NEWBORN SESSION - South Bend, Indiana Family and Newborn Photographer

Newborns are always born perfect. But holy cow, this little dude might just take the cake for most awake and absolutely adorable newborn ever! I was really excited when Mom contacted me about an in-home newborn session (and not just because I love shooting them). This family had only been in their new home for about two months and were still getting completely settled; we even had to reschedule the session once because their couch hadn’t arrived yet! I love getting to document families in the throws of a new chapter in their lives and two of the biggest changes you can go through as an adult is adding a new baby to the mix and moving.

As soon as I walked in the door, I knew this was a perfect fit. First, I was greeted by their sweet and adorable three-year-old daughter who immediately asked, “Do you want to see my baby brother?” Um, girl, try and stop me! So she lead me through their perfectly decorated home (seriously, I left this session wanting to go home and totally re-do my own decor) to her sweet, sleeping brother. He was the cutest little guy and she couldn’t cover him with enough kisses. Throughout the entire session, all she wanted to do was kiss and love on him!

Mom and Dad were equally as smitten with their new little guy. They took turns tending to him and snuggling him and it was pretty obvious he had been born into a family that had an abundance of love to give. I am so grateful to the O family for inviting me into their amazing home and family to document their newest arrival!

(Sorry, not sorry, for the overshare of this session but its a favorite!)

TELBY + TOM'S WEDDING - South Bend and Plymouth Indiana Wedding Photographer

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I adore how every love story is so different. You can shoot 20 weddings in a year, and none of them are like the other. This sweet couple stood out from the very beginning and it was so fun hearing their modern day love story. 

When I first arrived at Swan Lake on the wedding day, everyone was calm, cool and collected. The girls were having a blast getting their makeup done and prepping the little details (like my favorite "Don't Ugly Cry" hankies). Each bridesmaid seemed to take on a different role that helped support the bride in exactly the way she needed. The bride also got a few minutes to herself while she transferred her vows onto paper and then started her own personal prep. The guys were all a riot and everyone was set on having a great time!

At the non-first-look, the groom was so sweet and emotional and it was clear that this quick moment together was just what both of them needed before they said, "I do." Not to mention the adorable reaction of Dad to seeing his daughter in her dress for the first time. All the feels, people! And even with a non-first-look, the groom still got a little choked up when his bride was walking towards him. After a beautiful ceremony and some fun, traditional portraits, we moved into a truly wonderful celebration at the reception. SO much smiling and dancing! To say that these two have the love and support of an abundance of people would be an understatement. 

Telby and Tom, thanks for including me in your day!

Vendor information found at the bottom of this post. 

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Swan Lake Resort

Hair & Makeup Artist: MadeYaBlush - Jessica Trost

Groom/Groomsmen attire is from: Men’s Warehouse

Nail Salon/Specialist: New Nails, South Bend

Videographer: Green Line Media, Carter Surach

DJ/Band: Bov Knows Music, Scott Bovenkirk

Jeweler:  Mark Fischer Jewelry Designs

Cake: Martin’s Bakery

Plymouth + South Bend Family Photographer - The H Family

With documentary photography being a new style to the Michiana area, its always so amazing to meet a family that just "gets it." And that was the case with the H family! From our very first email, it was obvious that we were on the same page: we both value real, honest moments as a family. When we set up our session, I knew this would be a great one!

This family of three was so fun and light hearted and completely natural. We started the session with one of their favorite family activities which was a walk to the river from their home. During the walk, I was able to snag some fun moments and document some silly toddler habits. When we got to the water, they sat and played together in the grass and talked about the non-existent fish in the water.

When we got back to the house, the family decided to decorate pumpkins. They had everything from feathers to sequins to puff paint. It turned into one of those hilariously relatable endeavors where the toddler enjoys it but the parents REALLY enjoy it. After pumpkins came a quick snack before they headed out to a Halloween party. The sweet, quiet moments in the family room were a perfect representation of a normal day in their household. Hearing mom's rave reviews of her gallery and knowing that I was able to document her family just as it is in a way that will make her smile in the days and years to come is truly a joy. 

South Bend Family Photographer - Lyra's In-Home Newborn Session

This family session had it all: amazing parents, adorable girl babies and the coolest house packed with character. I immediately felt comfortable when I walked in to Dad snuggling his newest daughter while big sister played in the living room. His love for his girls was so obvious that I knew it would transfer into photos that were fun and beautiful!

Throughout this session, both mom and dad were so relaxed and just reveling in parenthood and doting on their newborn that my job was suddenly quite easy. From nursing on the couch while reading to their toddler to cuddling with each other and bonding over baby Lyra, this session was what dreams are made of. Not only was the immediate family there and so incredibly welcoming, but two super supportive grandmas were also there to observe and add to the laughter. There was no shortage of love for these two beautiful girls, that's for sure. The new big sister (who was only one and a half) was so patient and kind towards the new baby and she definitely loved getting her snuggles in with mom and sister. I also loved how incredibly understanding and comfortable these parents were about keeping this session completely documentary. They were more than willing to let me capture the beauty of their family in a totally candid, unscripted way and the results speak for themselves.

I'm so grateful to this family for inviting me into their home and letting me capture these sweet memories of them as they adjust to life as a family of four.

In-home First Birthday Milestone Session - Niles, Michigan

People don't alway associate lifestyle photography with milestone sessions but I'm SO glad that Momma K did! I had such a good time hanging out with this sweet little guy right before his first birthday to capture all of his fun milestones and silly habits. Baby S had a double ear infection but you'd never know it based on how happy and laid back he was the entire time I was there. I love capturing the simple things like his favorite toys, story time and bath time for his parents to look back on in the years to come so that they can remember everything about this fleeting moment in time. Happy Birthday big guy!

Notre Dame Family Photo Session - Go Irish!

While I have my documentary style, I never mind dabbling into lifestyle, especially when it's for an amazing family like this in a nearly equally amazing setting! This sweet family is here in the area for Dad's job and as he finishes up his Notre Dame project and they get ready to move out of state (sob), they wanted some commemorative photos of their time living on Eddy Street Commons and frequenting the amazing university. It was a super hot day and we were fighting the midday sun, but when your family is this fantastic, your photos demonstrate it...

Before and After - South Bend Michiana Family & Wedding Photographer

I have a confession: one of my guilty pleasures is before and after photos. It doesn't matter what of, I just love looking at them! I couldn't even begin to tell you why, but it's just satisfying. And I'm willing to bet that many folks out there feel the same way so I'm going to double dip here and give you the satisfaction of many before and afters as well as explaining why it is so important to hire a photographer who knows what they are doing beyond just pressing a shutter button...

Mixed Lighting. It happens.

One of the biggest challenges of being a photographer who shoots a good portion of their sessions indoors (no matter if it is a church, reception hall, hospital room or family room) is that you frequently have to deal with mixed lighting. This may not sound like a big deal; how hard is it to balance out warm lightbulb light and cool window light. Um, it's hard. Like super hard. Like lets-just-throw-everything-in-black-and-white-and-call-it-a-day hard. This is when having extensive knowledge in post processing becomes so immensely important! It can save an otherwise asethetically unappealing photo.

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Just look at the photo above. There is really soft, yellow light on the left and really hard, blue light on the right. There is no way I would provide a client with a photo that was so unbalanced as that left image! And so off to Lightroom and Photoshop we go and after some [really obsessive] editing, I felt comfortable and even pretty pleased with the outcome of this lovely family photo.

Its gives the photographer a voice and it lets you connect to specific style.

The fact of the matter is very simple: editing is a way for a photographer to stand out (or blend in) and give their work some personality. This also lets you as the consumer, find an editing style that you really connect with and then choose a photographer that most appeals to you.

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Some people like the matte and airy look and while I find those images truly beautiful and soft, I lean more towards the clear, vibrant and even sometimes moodier edits. It is just like a clothing style; what works for some doesn't work for others!

Sometimes, it changes just enough.

So many times, photographers take a photo that SOOC (straight out of camera) is barely sub par and it takes some post processing to give it that little bump into being interesting and artistic.

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Knowing how to manipulate a photo just enough that it still tells an honest story but looks even more powerful and beautiful is essential to great photos.

Sometimes, it changes everything.

And just like that, a lovely but very flat image suddenly jumps off the screen with it's breathtaking drama. The emotion is intensified with the colors and balance. The setting can truly be appreciated for its simplistic beauty. Everything suddenly comes together.

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So there you have it! Hopefully, even if you didn't read the text, the before and afters told the story well enough to convince you that photography is more than just the good camera and artistic eye. Its all about balance and understanding and patience (oh, so much patience). I encourage every reader and viewer out there to find a photographer whose style speaks to you and let them tell your story!