Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Audrey's Senior Portraits

I got to work with a really fun senior yesterday. She saw some of my work and decided to make the trip down from Wisconsin so that I could shoot her senior pictures. For this I am very honored!

Audrey is a talented writer and loves the winter, so we tried to incorporate these elements into her photos. Too bad the snow all melted just days before our shoot.

020_Audrey BLOG

040_Audrey BLOG

084_Audrey BLOG

audrey jump BLOG

Audrey, I had a blast yesterday meeting you and your mom. I wish I could fit 50 photos onto this sneak peek because that is how many of them I just love. Proofs coming soon!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

9 Month Session Sneak Peek

Just a quick little sneak peek of a session that was done right before Christmas. I just love her little leg warmers!

Leg Warmers

Christmas Baby

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Congratulations to Geoff and Lauren!

I just want to share my excitement about the recent engagement of my brother and his girlfriend. They are perfect for each other and I am so happy they decided to make this a permanent situation.

Geoff & Lauren

Geoff & Lauren

My brother really hates to be photographed. I don't want to freak him out about how many photographs will be taken of him when he is actually the groom, but I thought he might like this pose below since he normally pulls his collar up over his face whenever I point the camera at him.

Geoff & Lauren

Congratulations again. Love you both!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours!

Merry Christmas, Flickr Friends!

xmas bokeh 600

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Hey wait. Is that a Menorah in front of a Christmas tree? What the.....?

I was raised in a mixed-religion home (Jewish Dad, Catholic Mom) and although I am Catholic, we celebrate holidays for both sides. On Christmas Day at my parents' house, it's really interesting to have my great-aunt who is a nun say grace and then have my Dad proceed to light the menorah. I actually love to embrace this diversity and hope to keep some of that alive for my children. This year my daughter learned a lot about Hanukkah at school and was interested in lighting our own menorah. My Hebrew really stinks, but tonight for her sake I muddled through the prayers my father taught me.

Today was an extra fun day because my daughter had a pal over and we spent the afternoon making cookies - Christmas cookies and Hanukkah cookies.

Cookies For Blog

To my Jewish family and friends, I wish you a very Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Favorite Things 2008

fave things

In the spirit of “Oprahs’ Favorite Things”, I had been thinking about doing a “Jessie’s Favorite Things” blog post this year. Then Oprah decided not to do her typical favorite things episode due to this year’s economic issues. I bet the people in the audience were pissed that day -- "What do you mean we DON'T get $100,000 worth of free gifts??" I wanted to still share the list of cool things I have discovered this year because most of the things on my list are very affordable and might help some folks with last minute gifts.

So here we go, in no particular order:

1) Busy Body Book Academic Calendar. This is an awesome planner book for any mom. It shows a week at a time and has 5 columns so you can assign each family member a column to keep track of everyone’s schedules. When I had a normal corporate job and had to be responsible for only myself, I had an electronic calendar so it’s kinda weird that I have gone back to a paper calendar now. But I am totally in love with this thing and have bought it as gifts for a couple of friends. Mine is the academic year version (August 08-Sept 09) but I am pretty sure it also available in a normal calendar year version that starts in January.

2) Lands End Chalet Shoes. These are so warm and comfortable, they are like wearing slippers but are actual shoes. We normally don’t wear shoes in our house, and these have become my “inside shoes.” As you know, I work from home so when I have to meet with someone, at least I am not wearing my slippers. LOL! Snatch them up now because as of this posting, they are on sale for $19.99.

3) Tracy Joy Camera Bags. These cool and trendy camera bags created in some of today’s hippest patterns and prints. I have the original Reese and I love it. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new Reese, which has been redesigned to be larger, and my only complaint about my Reese is that it is a tad too small. I cannot speak for the other bag models, but the Reese is sturdy with its zipper closure. Sign up for Tracy’s blog and watch for specials!

4) Phat Straps. These are custom designed trendy camera straps created in hip patterns and prints. My favorite feature about these is the quick release, which allows me to switch from a neck strap to a wrist strap in just a few seconds.

5) Tyke Light. What a great idea…. A nightlight that a child who is afraid of the dark can hold with them, and even carry with them during a midnight trip to the potty. Both of my kids have one. Genius, I say!

6) Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion. I am not normally one to shout from the rooftops about a lotion, but if you get dry winter skin you really gotta try this stuff. If you start using it at the beginning of winter, you will never even get dry or scaly the whole season. Don’t be fooled by the name. Most things with the word “emollient” in them are thick and greasy, but this is surprisingly light. Give it a whirl.

7) Bare Minerals. I too am totally annoyed by the long infomercials, but ladies and gentleman – believe the hype! I started using Bare Minerals last December and my skin has never looked better. It’s really hard to give makeup as a gift due to all the shades, but Bare Minerals are available at Ulta and Sephora so maybe you can give your special someone a gift certificate to one of those stores.

8) Teavana. I just discovered Teavana this fall. Even if you are not a tea lover, stop in and try some samples because they have something for everyone. There are even tea-free drinks for kids made of dried fruits that brew like tea but look like juice. The woman at the counter was so knowledgeable about the teas, their different uses, health benefits o the different types of teas, etc.

9) Molly Cupcakes.
Unfortunately you need to be in Chicago to take advantage of this little treasure. It’s a cute coffee shop/bakery specializing in (of course) cupcakes. I am not normally a big fan of cupcakes but would sit in traffic for 2 hours to get to Molly’s Cupcakes if need be. The story of Molly’s cupcakes dates back to when the owner was in grade school. His teacher, named Molly, would bake cupcakes for the kids’ birthdays and was kind enough to share the recipe. The shop itself is really cute, with actual playground swings suspended from the ceiling at the bar instead of stools. Be sure to check it out when you are in town.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One more from last Thursday's newborn session

because I love this and just can't help but post it.

one more from last week's newborn session

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nine Days Ago...

this sweet little bundle made her grand entrance!

a bowl of baby
* Tushie Wrap by Mamique Designs.

Just look at those big beautiful eyes. It's hard to believe she is only 9 days old with such alert eyes.

such bright eyes for 9 days old!

Her eyes may be deceiving, but she definitely has the flexibility of a brand new baby.

folded up and snuggled

This raised hands pose reminds me of the beginning of "The Lion King" (I know, I am such a mom... I need to get out out of the house and see some grown-up movies, huh?). The cool pose was her mom's idea, but I am not sure her dad thought it was so cool. Oops, sorry dad! Thankfully this was the last shot of the day.

oops, sorry Dad!

I sort of feel like today was a rite of passage for me. In my whole career, today was the first time I have captured tinkle in a picture. It's certainly not the first time a baby has tinkled during a photo session, but it's the first time I photographed the actual act of tinkling. Perhaps this baby should win some sort of a prize. I know... a free 5x7 for the baby book. S&R, in 17 years you guys can bring this one out to show her prom date.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

World's Most Cooperative Newborn

I’d like to introduce the world’s most cooperative newborn, Baby J. Four weeks old, he would pretty much go along with anything and didn’t cry once during the session. And amazingly he only peed on my pillows once....LOL!

Even though I am running around this week processing holiday orders like my hair is on fire, I was so excited about yesterday's shoot that I just had to play with a couple of them.

0032 BLOG

0225 BLOG

0039 BLOG
* Knit cocoon by Breanna Morman.

0172 BLOG

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

332/365 - Thankful For:

There is so much to be thankful for. I hope you are all enjoying great food and great times with your families today.

Thing 1 Turns 6


Yep, I know this post looks familiar. My kids’ birthdays are the same week. My daughter was born the day before Thanksgiving in 2002, my son was born two days before Thanksgiving in 2005, and I got to experience hospital turkey twice. Blech!

Wow, my firstborn is six. Five years and 364 days ago, I thought I knew it all and honestly had no idea what I was in for. I never knew I could love someone this much until I became a mom. I never knew I could be driven this insane until I became a mom (LOL). You think you understand how much a parent can love a child, but you really don’t get it until it happens to you. And then overnight your life is changed forever.

My daughter is smart as a whip and stubborn as hell. She can drive me to my wits end, and then a minute later says something to make me melt. Everyday she amazes me, and the true highlight of my life has been watching my children grow.

I have to thank my daughter, for her arrival allowed me to follow my dream. I spent many years in school to get my graduate degree in engineering, and I had a lucrative career in engineering. Still, photography was always my passion. I actually looked forward to getting out of engineering school so that I would have time to take more photography classes…how crazy is that? Once I held my baby daughter in my arms, I knew that I could not go back to the corporate world - stress, travel, corporate politics, 60 hour work weeks. I decided to turn my passion into a business, and I have not looked back since.

Happy Birthday, G! (( HUGS!!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sneak Peek

What an awesome family. They all have great smiles too. If you looks closely you'll notice two of my favorite kinds of smiles...missing teeth smiles, aka "jack-o-lantern smiles."


A little texture play for some variety:

DSCF0167 texture BLOG

I recently bought a new pettiskirt and have not had an opportunity to shoot with it yet. L was just the right size for it, and she agreed to model. Thanks, L! I like this picture because of the motion, but for some reason it also reminds me of a painting.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thing 2 turns 3


I really cannot believe that my baby is 3. The time has gone so fast! Today he woke up and said "Hey, I'm 3 now!" We have been telling him all week that 3-year-olds use the potty and don't wear diapers anymore, so we'll see how that goes.

When I think back to three years ago, I am reminded of the rough entry H had into this world. I had complications with my c-section, H was a miserable colic-y baby, and his older sister who was three at the time was not too thrilled about his arrival and made life somewhat miserable at our house for a brief time. It's amazing how the good times outweigh and overshadow the bad. It didn't take long for G to learn to love her little brother, and now it's impossible to imagine life without him. His smile is contagious, and he is perpetually happy. He's a total boy - loud and crazy. My husband jokes that H only has two volumes - loud and louder.

So hugs to you H, and a big fat Happy Birthday!!

P.S. Don't forget the deal about 3-year-olds and the potty!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


One of my favorite clients has probably been checking the blog all week to see if I got anything posted from her weekend session, and I am happy to say her sneak peek is now ready! I have been photographing this little one since she was a newborn and this weekend was her 4-year session. Next time I think we should do a mother daughter portrait because this little girl is a total "mini me" of her mom. (Down to the hair cowlick and's amazing!)

Sparkle Hat, Pettiskirt, & Boots

Just for fun, I played around with some different post-processing techniques.

Blog Panel

And, I had to include this one because it made me laugh and reminds me of my own kids, who have been sporting an assortment of temporary tattoos ever since Halloween.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Honor of Burns Copeland

day 317 narrow crop

Today's blog post is in remembrance of Burns Copeland, whose funeral was this morning. Burns was the founder of the Chicagoland Professional Photographers Association (CPPA) and was 92 when he died. I got to know Burns when I was one of the first women to serve on the CPPA Board of Directors in 2005. I didn't know I was indirectly linked to him before that, but learned that he shot my father's military photos in the 60's. I used to jokingly call Burns "Yoda" because of his age and his wisdom about photography and the industry. I actually gave him a little Yoda figure like this, and he thought it was hilarious. Being in his 90's eventually caught up to Burns, and he had not been too active at CPPA for the past couple of years. I just want to send my sympathies to his family and tell them that he will be missed.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I have been on hold, listening to elevator music all morning....

I apologize for the inconvenience, but AT&T has made an error and disconnected my voicemail. They are aware of this problem and have reactivated the voicemail. However, they told me it can take up to 24 hours to go into effect. Therefore I may be unreachable by phone all day today. If you call, and I am unavailable and voice mail does not pick up, please email me at, and I will call you right away. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Best Friend's Girls

(hey, isn't that a Cars song from the late 70's?)

Clearly I am really getting a lot of mileage out of the box of giant peppermint sticks I ordered for this year's holiday portrait season. But you know, they are truly serving their purpose because kids will sit still to eat them, and they look really cute in Christmas pictures.

blog strip 600

These are my best friend's daughters. They are each just a few months younger than my two kids. My best friend (or shall I say BFF?) and I met when we were in preschool. We went to grade school, high school, and college together, and we even went through pregnancy together. I realize that this is really unusual and special - not many people our age have maintained a close friendship for over 33 years. I am hoping that even though they don't go to school together, our kids will be pals for a lifetime as well.

The older girl looks just like her dad, but the little blondie is a spitting image of my friend. Sometimes I can't even look at her without laughing because she looks so much like her mother that it takes me back to our own preschool days. See what I mean? ===>

I know I have said this before, but my poor friends are always the last to get their stuff. When I get busy, they are the most understanding to have their orders pushed to the back burner. So I am glad I am at least able to put a few pics up on the blog here for you Jen, because you know that your Christmas card will be the last one I design. No hang on a minute - it will be the 2nd to last one that I design. My own Christmas card will be the last one I design.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!


It's been a big week at the Gwozdz house!

Thing 1 has lost her fourth tooth. Since it's not her first tooth, you may ask why the fourth tooth is such a big deal. Well this one is a big deal because she SWALLOWED IT. I was a little panicked, imagining a perforated intestine from that little tooth, but a call to Papa Don put me at ease (for those of you who don't know, my Dad is a dentist). Since then we have been teasing her not to let it bite her on the tush on its way out. LOL! She was pretty upset because she thought the Tooth Fairy would not come without an actual tooth to put out, but she was happy this morning to find a golden dollar and a duckie key chain on her nightstand.

fourth tooth BLOG

The big news for Thing 2 this week the arrival of the BIG BOY BED. We didn't want to transition him out of the crib until he was done napping, and didn't want to go bed shopping until the Carson's warehouse was having their big annual furniture sale. As fate would have it, both of those things came together this month and hence - the big boy bed is here! He loves to help his father work with tools, and could not wait to help take apart his crib. I must admit to getting a little choked up watching my baby take apart his own crib. He picked out a monster-themed comforter and is so excited with it. And I am happy to say that the transition has gone rather smoothly.

Big Boy Bed BLOG

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Seven and half months old...

and eyes that can stop traffic.

0390 BLOG

His big sister and brother are in first grade and kindergarten (respectively), and were arguing over who got to hold him for the pictures. Too cute!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beautiful Inside & Out

Congratulations to my dear friend S, who is expecting her first baby around Thanksgiving. This time of year holds a special place in my heart because both of my kids are Thanksgiving babies. I had the pleasure (not!) of hospital turkey twice, as my daughter was born the day before Thanksgiving in 2002, and my son was born two days before Thanksgiving in 2005.

I have known S since we were 14 years old, and we attended both high school and college together. I know that she is going to be a great mom because she has such a strong nurturing instinct. Plus, she is always prepared. Even when we were teens, if you ever needed a band-aid, tissue, or tylenol, she would inevitably have what you needed right there in her purse.

Good luck, S & R! Just a few more weeks till you guys meet your little miracle.




P.S. One of the upsides to being my friend is that I will shoot pictures for you. One of the downsides of being my friend is that I will process everyone else's pictures ahead of yours. LOL! Thanks for your patience, S&R. Proofs coming soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dunkin Donuts for breakfast....

makes for some really fun family portraits. LOL!

This family was truly a blast to work with, and within the silliness we got some great family portraits.

kids in frame for BLOG

4-pane family for BLOG

Monday, October 20, 2008

What do a 20-month-old boy and the Canadian Rockies have in common?

Little G has amazing eyes. Several years ago my husband and I took a roadtrip along the Icefields Parkway thru the Canadian Rockies. There is a glacier-fed lake in Banff called Peyto Lake, and it is seriously the prettiest blue lake I have ever seen. Normally you don't think of a frozen ice lake as gorgeous and blue, you think about the ocean in some exotic vacation spot in the Carribean. But Peyto Lake is unbelievable, and I encourage you to Google it because you will see some amazing pictures. Why did I go off on this Peyto Lake tangent? Oh yeah, because I have worked with this little guy several times, and his eyes make me think of Peyto Lake every time I see him.


And his mom could moonlight as a children's clothing buyer for portrait sessions because she always brings in the cutest stuff for him to wear. His dad is a retired firefighter, so these PJ's are not only hilarious but also totally appropriate.


This last image of the sneak peak is sort of a step outside the box for me. Toward the end of the session when little G was losing patience with me and my camera, we let him sit on a Thomas the Tank Engine riding toy. Obviously he did not sit still, but rather rode all over the studio. There are several snaps from that time that were out of focus (because he was driving too fast) or not properly exposed (because he drove away from the lights). I almost tossed this last image because of the split lighting on his face. But then I decided to play around with it a bit, and here is what I came up with. His serious expression, the edgy lighting, the grain - it's not my usual style but I think this is kinda cool!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Hanging out with big kids

After several weeks of working with the under-3 set, spending some time with a first grader and a kindergarten feels like I am hanging out with big kids. LOL! These two are so cute and were really fun to work with. And I must say that I am totally loving the mix of all the bright colors here!