the beemsterboer family | at home session | tinley park, il.

Amanda and Tim brought their baby boy into the world during one of the wildest times many of us have experienced in our lives – they were originally due on March 29th, 2020, and Owen ended up coming a week earlier, just one week after the pandemic had started. Though we had planned to do a newborn session soon after Owen arrived, we changed course as phrases like “shelter in place” and “stay at home order” entered our vocabularies, now crafting the way we spent our day-to-day lives. I personally can’t imagine what these early days of the pandemic felt like for people with kids, much less people who had only recently become parents — and here were the Beemsterboers, in the throes of it all, as new parents with a new baby to join them as they sheltered in place at home.
 
We pushed their session back multiple times before finally sticking with a date in May – I had only left the confines of my apartment for groceries and runs at the time, so getting to be in a space with other people felt extra special to me. Amanda and Tim are the type of people who you could guess would be incredible parents from the moment you meet them – they each carry themselves with a bit of softness and kindness, and fun and ease that makes them both seem like they’d naturals at the parenting gig. And they were, of course; they were gentle and patient with Owen and each other, and they laughed about the little things, changed diapers, and took on parenting like the great team they are.  
 
I’m posting these a year later, and I imagine these moments feel so recent and yet so distant to Amanda and Tim – when their little man was just a fresh babe, and they were learning so much on a day-to-day basis, and so was he, and they all still are but maybe it feels like they’re all a bit more seasoned at it these days. It has been a heck of a year for all of us, but what an exceptionally sweet, strange, life-changing one for these three. 


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charlene & jackson | andersonville/edgewater engagement session | chicago, il.

Charlene and Jackson first met years ago on OKCupid (and when it comes to dating apps, I’m a bit partial to OKC because Michael and I happened to meet on this one, too!). They dated and fell in love while both living in Chicago, building a life together as Charlene lived independently in the Edgewater neighborhood, and as Jackson decided to make a career change and go to law school in pursuit of becoming a Public Defender. I think that though the college years feel especially formative when we’re in the midst of them, something about our twenties that follow feels a bit bigger to me – these often become the years when we are figuring out who we are professionally, what we care about, who we want to spend our time with, and consider what we really want our lives to look like. These two met in the midst of that, and they continue to figure it out together to this day.  
 
They both have a strong sense of adventure – they’re often found camping and hiking and trying new cocktails and taking bike rides, planning their next trip and excitedly celebrating not only life’s big moments, but the smaller ones, too. We spent the morning of their engagement session hopping around Charlene’s old neighborhood – the lakefront and the Andersonville/Edgewater area, grabbing coffee and some flowers and doing what they do best, which is not only making the little things special, but savoring them alongside one another as well.  
 
They also both are genuine and thoughtful and kind – Jackson in a quiet, kind-hearted way, and Charlene in a charismatic, excited way that makes them the kind of pair you want to spend your time with. In a true adventuresome duo fashion, they recently decided to move to Colorado Springs, CO together – Charlene to stay in her current remote position working with Hubspot, and Jackson to take on his first role as a PD with the Colrado State Public Defender Office. Getting to know the two of them and follow along as they figure out what they want their lives to look like together has been so much fun, and I can’t wait to see + photograph how beautifully they take on married life this August, either.  





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jessica, andy, & alice | newborn + maternity | chicago, il.

I have been lucky enough to photograph so many of the stages of Jessica and Andy’s lives – their engagement, wedding day, pregnancy, and most recently, their time at home with their newborn daughter, Alice. Photographing these stages in peoples’ lives is a gift, but doing so during a pandemic has made the privilege feel even greater. I photographed their maternity session in late September, on the anniversary of their wedding date. We walked the neighborhood near their apartment for it, finishing in their home, in the nursery where their baby girl would be sleeping just a few months later. 

Alice entered the world at a time when the pandemic had recently worsened – case numbers and hospitalizations were rising, and the city took a few steps back when it came to assessing risk and considering how “open” things should be. Jessica and Andy decided to wait until Alice was one month old to have me come by for her session, and I knew immediately how fortunate I was to get to see and meet her at a time when so few of their friends and family had been able to do so. Furthermore, I got to document this new stage of their life at a time when many of their loved ones had yet to see them in their new roles, either — they had quietly become parents amidst the falling snow and holiday season, and their family members who had the ability to quarantine + friends who could meet them on chilly walks outdoors were amongst the few who had witnessed this. 

I got to see the Christmas decorations they’d hung by the fireplace, and the way they warmed Alice’s toes as they sat near the tree. I watched Jessica bounce on a yoga ball as she held her baby, and then Andy as he later held Alice across his forearm, each of them trying their hands at the ways they’d learned to soothe her throughout the past month of her life. 

There was a diaper change and an outfit change and a feeding, and we all hung in their bedroom together chatting as Alice ate. We talked about tv shows and audiobooks and childrens’ toys as their cats made their way over to Jessica and Alice on the bed. Jessica held her baby in one arm and was petting her cat with the other, sharing with me how she’s learning to let go of expectations and the constant pull so many feel toward productivity during this time. I found myself feeling so proud of her and all of them — as both a friend and a person who has been lucky enough to be a witness to their adult lives, it was pretty incredible to watch them figuring this whole thing out. To see them recognizing and vocalizing that there had been and would continue to be some serious ebbs and flows to the whole parenting gig, some wonderful, memorable days and some real tough ones. I was in a bit of awe at the end of our cozy little session — excited to see who they continue to become not only as parents but also as people, and what a fortunate kid Alice will be with the two of them in her corner. 




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the hendrick family | tannen’s newborn session.

There is something inherently sweet about photographing a family after they’ve brought a newborn home for the first time. But as I type this, I already find myself looking for a different word – sweet feels a bit too saccharine, like I’m about to talk about their precious fingers and toes and wax on about these little angels and the beauty of childbirth. This is not how these sessions feel — they don’t feel like perfection, and they don’t feel angelic, either. These sessions, to me, feel raw; they feel like a brand new human being brought into a home with parents who are just trying to figure out this new role they’re in, and understand this little person who has become part of their family. What does she like? What does that cry mean? Is she hungry?

I can’t speak to how this experience must feel, nor can I even remotely put myself in the shoes (or slippers, or socks) of the new parents in the midst of experiencing it. But I can speak to what it’s like to witness it — to walk into their home just weeks after they’ve brought home this new baby, and document them with their child. 

I’ve known Chelsea and Derek for years — as kids, then as high schoolers, then as grown adults whose wedding I photographed a few years ago. Their dog Yadi greeted me upon arrival, who I had met years before at their engagement session. Every newborn session feels different to me, simply because each set of parents and baby and home is different, and this is a wild time in peoples’ lives, you know? The Hendrick household felt calm and cozy, and there was a sort of ease and gentleness with which Chelsea and Derek carried themselves. Things around their home served as reminders of some of the biggest parts of their lives — wedding photos on the walls, photos of Rorie, the baby girl they had lost the year prior, a dry erase calendar marking big happenings that month, like their due date and doctor appointments and the weddings of their loved ones. 

They made their way to Tannen’s room to start, where they cradled their girl, and eventually tag teamed changing her diaper and outfit, and then gave her a bottle in their bedroom. Yadi eventually wanted to join in, licking and nudging Tannen and also wanting to find a spot on one of their laps. They looked at Tanner and each other softly, as if there was no expectation for how this whole thing would go, and that to simply spend a few quiet hours together was enough – as if any time spent with her was more than enough. I know none of this is easy, and that so many more moments beyond the ones I see are spent soothing and crying and feeding and bouncing and wishing for sleep, and I suppose that’s why these moments of quiet feel extra sweet. The days in our lives go so quickly, and they can be happy and sad and monotonous and balanced and frustrating and so many other things, and I will always be a proponent of stopping to take a breath, looking at your partner or your baby or your friend or your parent softly, quietly, and realizing how incredible these seemingly small, day-to-day moments in our lives can be. 


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the ralph family | a summer afternoon at home | peoria, il.

Back in 2015, I photographed Madeline and Tate’s wedding. They were sweet and young and fun and kind, and it was the sort of wedding day that stayed with me long after. One of the best parts of social media is that it gives me an opportunity to follow along with what’s happening in my clients’ lives in the years after their weddings, so I virtually cheered on Madeline and Tate as they changed jobs and cities and bought a home and brought a baby girl into the world and then later, a baby boy. I’ve seen their kids’ sweet faces online as they’ve been growing up before all our eyes, and I imagined what great parents they must be. So when Madeline reached out to me about doing a session at their home this past summer, I leapt at the chance to see the two of them and meet Catherine and Daniel.  
 
Though weddings are still my favorite experience to photograph, lifestyle sessions in the home are the next best thing. There’s a comfort that comes with being photographed on your own couch, in the backyard where your kids play, just off the kichen where you make muffins together. We landed a beautiful summer day for our session, so we started outside – the kids were already hanging on the back porch when I arrived, and they proudly showed me their stuffed animal friends, Rocky and Owly, as they made their way to the slide. Mom and Dad eventually joined them, and we hopped inside for a break from the sun after a bit. The cool thing about a session like this is that it’s mostly just me following them around and documenting what happens – Catherine climbed up on the piano bench (which obviously meant Daniel did, too) and they hit a few keys before some couch snuggles and reading and applesauce pouches. After that, the fam changed clothes and we made our way out to the same park where Madeline and Tate had taken their wedding photos years ago.  
 
They picked flowers and held hands and giggled and twirled, and it was exactly what I’d think of if trying to imagine a perfect afternoon. Catherine and Daniel are spunky and curious and sweet, and absolutely none of this surprises me because I already know they have two of the very best as parents. This session and witnessing them all together was as much of a gift for me as it was for them, and I feel so fortunate to have been part of it.  



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LOCATED IN:

Chicago, IL

Documenting:

Weddings + Engagements + Life

Get ahold of me at:

brookerumbold@gmail.com

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