For those that been with me from the beginning on my photography journey I want to say thank you for helping me get to where I am today. Hope you enjoy your cameos from high school, college and beyond as I take a walk down memory lane!
Following high school graduation, I knew I wanted to continue to expand my skillset. I enrolled in a summer school photography course a few days a week leading into my freshman year at Purdue. I spent countless hours in the photo lab at Moraine Valley continuing to learn the techniques of film, a bit more about my manual camera and developing and processing black & white film.
During this time, my little brother and sister were very involved in both baseball and gymnastics, the perfect opportunity for me to capture these moments and work on refining my skills.
For my final project around my 18th birthday, I took a quick independent trip to the city - a challenge in and of itself. I spent a day at the taste of Chicago capturing all that I could to build my portfolio. While most didn't turn out great, I was really drawn to this one in particular - the beginning of my love for aperture and depth of field experimenting.
With a major in advertising and an minor in photography, I continued to expand my skill set behind the camera and inside the dark room during my 4 years at Purdue University.
Looking back on everything, I was so lucky for the support of all my college friends who became the subjects of my coursework. One of my favorites involved traveling from West Lafayette, Indiana to the south side of Chicago to find the perfect setting for photos allowing a narrative of a teenage runaway. I can't believe the places we found and the risks we took from abandoned buildings, construction sights, an expressway bridges...nothing was off limits to get the perfect shot. In reading the storyline, it brought back so many memories of my vision. The process was quite complex, Abbi, my runaway teen subject illustrated the text on tracing paper over each image. From there I brought the tracing paper to a printing company and copied to transparent paper which allowed me to overlay on the image and reproduce the exposure again in the darkroom for the text to appear. A significant amount of trial and error, and while I definitely have improved over the years, it was fun to see how I started to create a lifestyle technique with families, dance movement and portraits.
I loved everything about the process from start to finish. Each project had a theme, another favorite of mine was storytelling. I wanted to do something that meant a great deal to me and thought of my grandfather who fought in WWII. With so many stories, and incredible pictures, I was able to reproduce several using his negatives (which I'm both so impressed and glad he kept). To help me complete, my grandfather sent me letters, we spoke on the phone and I came back home a few weekends to learn as much as I could. I was able to use his knowledge, history and experience to produce a project that I will always cherish. This is so personal to me and my family and I can't wait to share with my children one day.
In my spare time, I also loved photographing my friends on the side for testing exposure, development and dark room adjustments. In looking at some of the images I still have....I must have gone through a very serious phase, no smiles allowed.
This is also the time when I completed my first lifestyle family shoot ever for my college friend Rachel. Fun to see all of the test images and notes with adjustments needed in the dark room. Amazing how digitally focused everything is now. Thanks to social media we are still connected and crazy to see her little boy in this picture is just beginning his Junior year in college!
Amazon would have been amazing in college, many weekends I would take a trip to Indianapolis to visit the closest photo supply store to stock up on film, paper, lenses, etc. During my senior year I learned color processing and I could not get enough. For fun I would take my DSLR out to the bars and events to capture our fun nights! My entire college scrapbook is filled with 11 x 14 images that I developed in the lab - it was so crazy to pull out and see! The best part was that it only cost a few dollars to make....perfect on a college student budget.
One of my most challenging and exciting photography courses was studio lighting as it addressed both of my majors, Advertising & Photography. I will never forget the projects and the hours I spent in the studio. For one of them, we had to find an advertisement and recreate the set perfectly. Unfortunatley, I was only one in my class that selected a food product, a Kellogg's Nature Valley bar to be exact. The advertisement had the bar opened showing the fruit center. I learned a very important lesson here, food in advertisements in not actually real food and I struggled to get it to match perfectly along with package wrinkling issues. The output was in between not good/not terrible, but definitely not my best that I didn't save this one (although I wish I did for a keepsake).
Another part of this class was to market our own product. I created a vitamin product called Herbal Essentials, some of the benefits included glowing skin. As you can see from my model below, your skin glows so much it produces glitter! I definitely came a long way in the advertising world, but very proud of these pictures and for dabbling with my first ever advertising campaign. Assuming this would be a bit hit today if I marketed, ha!
Post college I started my first job in the advertising industry at Starcom. After a few years I decided to go back to school and expand my advertising and photography skills with a Graphic Design degree from the Illinois Institute of Art. Throughout the process I continued to keep photography embedded in all of my projects. Coming back full circle, my dancer sister agreed to pose again for a brochure I decided to create for the Joffrey Ballet. It was quite a bit of time since we took dance pictures together, little did I know at this point I would have a daughter and niece in dance that I would be photographing now alongside their team.
While working in advertising media (on the Kellogg's business ironically) at Starcom, I kept photography a side focus. I began photographing couples for engagements and bringing my camera to weddings to gift the couple with a photo journalistic style - perfect for the lifestage in our mid-20's.
During that time I met my husband, started a new job (where I still am today in the advertising industry) and expanded my design and photography offering which is where Jaime Byrdak Designs began. I fell in love with my first DSLR digital camera and currently on my 3rd upgrade eyeing my 4th....and while I do miss the process of developing film....I love the immediacy of it in addition to post production in the Adobe Creative Suite.
I'm lucky that my husband has an eye for photography and is a wiz on the equipment and is always there to lend a helping hand when anything techy comes up.
I continue to spend my weekend time helping clients capture special memories that has evolved from couples, to babies to families and several special projects! Including a few 'timer' images of my family so we are all able to get in the frame together!
Hope you enjoy this time capsule, circa 1995 and on....
I became a bit obsessed with silhouette photography and sunsets last month. Creative opportunities motivate me and I feel very challenged by this different style / settings that I can't wait to continue to learn more and perhaps make this part of a package offering.
The best part of all is the kiddos really got into it, each night they asked to go on a walk to the neighborhood lake to witness the transition from day to night. Sometimes we were a bit late, others a bit early.....either way we were bed-time challenged this summer so why not take advantage of the beauty in the sky!
I can't believe July is over, it came and went so fast….but the good news is we made the most of every free moment possible! From 4th of July fireworks, pool parties, soccer games and tumbling class - to - dance nationals, concerts, movies, celebrating our nephew’s 8th grade graduation, birthday parties, swim camp, photo shoots, Ohio girls trip, the Museum of Science and Industry as well as the carnival.
Every year the carnival comes to our town within walking distance of our house, and we love it! This year we made a quick trip on Thursday after work which happened to be the opening night. We let the kiddos pick out one ride (in hopes we could hold out until Sunday for wristbands) followed by a tasty treat. My thrill seeking kiddos Kyleigh and Christian chose the fastest ride they could handle while Caleb opted for the kids dinosaur coaster.
Side note: I love roller coasters, my husband does not, I’m starting to see my boys are very similar to Scott (although Christian almost had me fooled). With Kyleigh loving life whipping around, a few seconds in Christian yelled out “this was a bad idea” he didn’t like it at all, and unfortunately they let the ride run for what felt like 10 minutes as there was no line….poor thing! One of my favorite pics of the evening was his face following....love that capture. But nothing a bit of popcorn could not fix after.
Kyleigh is now asking to go to Great America - maybe a girls trip - I for sure know the boys could likely do without! Happy August everyone.
This is a dance season we will not forgot. From competitions, practices and photo shoots to birthday parties, recitals and more....there is no shortage of memories here!
We have so many candid pics (and videos - but that’s a project for another day). Kyleigh helped me create a digital scrapbook full of Snapchat’s, Instastories and iPhone pics all in one place!
I love that my husband accepts me for me and allows our family to live spontaneously. Sometimes a bit too spontaneous, but I can’t help myself, that is how my brain works. In this case I wanted to plan a last minute trip literally 2 weeks prior, found amazing sales on Southwest.com, and when we went to buy the flights the next day the cost tripled. With a bit of hope, I watched for a couple days, no such luck, flights were selling out and costs continued to rise….ahhh!
While still hopeful for a vacation, figured this was the perfect opportunity for plan B….our first family staycation! I spent my post college days living in Chicago and every week-day since moving to the burbs downtown. Excited to go back and experience everything the city has to offer with our family of 5!
We had a list of places to hit: Navy Pier, Maggie Daley Park, Museums, Lincoln Park Zoo, Buckingham Fountain, the Bean, a boat tour and shopping.
We stayed right on Wacker Drive at the Wyndham and decided to take the commuter train in. Instead of lugging a large suitcase for the 4 day stay we opted for 5 backpacks so everyone was responsible for their belongings. The goal was to be efficient as possible knowing the days of stroller storage is behind us.
All in all we had so much fun! We took advantage of the nearby shopping on state street, dancing on stage at the House of Blues, spending an entire day at Maggie Daley Park, visiting the Bean and Chicago Theater as well as strolling down the river walk. We did so much, but so much more to go...already planning our next trip....the kiddos love it and can’t wait!
I originally drafted this post in March during the weeks of spring training with a hope to say next year we are going, it's been 4 years too long to miss out on the fun! While I missed the Spring Training window, what better timing than to publish the week of our first White Sox game of the season with my dad.
This is a very special time for us as these pictures and videos also bring back memories of a very monumental moment for my dad. Leaving a Sox game last season back in May, he fell and tore both of his quads, with an emergency surgery and intense physical therapy sessions following, he made it a goal for himself to take batting practice at the August workout on the field.
Not only did he take batting practice, he had an amazing run, we were all so proud of him! While I wish I had more videos to capture our time, I am thankful for the ones we do have. My favorite moment by far is the happiness this brought him and especially love how I captured my sister, who is in orthopedics greet him after his bat and see how proud she is of her dad that he accomplished his goal! 'Be tough' is a phrase he said to all of us growing up, and we got to see him 'be tough' for all us and and our kiddos as well!
Prior to the boys turning a year, I tried to be good about blogging monthly updates....I was good, for about 3 months. Time is not slowing down and the boys are almost 5, eeek, I am making a promise to myself to pick it back up starting today. For those that know us closely, it's no surprise that some days are a blur, so I want to remember all the sweet, fun and crazy as it happens!
Soooo, here it goes, and what better time to start than now. While the boys have been in school since 15 months, this year they changed schools began a 5 day schedule and full day curriculum for PreK. The first few weeks it was a little tough to adjust to the new schedule, I distinctly remember them saying "not again". But times have changed, now they jump up, look forward to each day and all upcoming activities!
Speaking of upcoming activities, a few months ago, both boys celebrated being star of the week. It was so cute, we made a poster sharing all of their favorite things, they got to bring a special show-n-tell, be the line leader...you name it! But my favorite part by far was the activity they asked the parents to participate in. We had to write a letter to both of our boys ... no rules - whatever we would like, this was the chance for the teacher to surprise them and read to the classroom. My boys love books, so we thought creating a storybook would be perfect for them both! Scott was the copywriter, and I played designer and editor (as always). We approached both books differently with so much love for each.
The boys came home from school during their special week and told us they loved it which of course gave me happy tears. I'm so proud of how much they have grown and so glad we have this memory to look back on one moment in time.
Where can mommy and daddy start with showing how much of a blessing you are to us. From the moment we found out that you were going to be a part of our family, our lives were going to change forever. You were the one who made our family complete. Like a puzzle piece, you made our lives come to life with joy and happiness that nobody could never imagine could happen. As you grew up into the young boy you are today, you have shown what it is to love, care, laugh and even cry. To show you how much you are an amazing boy, we wanted to show you and your classmates who you are and what you mean to everybody you has ever much such a wonderful boy like yourself.
C – represents the caring that you give to everyone. When someone is hurt you are there to give a hug. When someone is crying you are there to make them feel better with a smile, a kiss or even a blanket.
A – represents the affectionate you are to all those around you. Your warm hugs, thoughts and tenderness when someone is hurt or having a bad day makes problems disappear.
L – is for the Love you show to mommy, daddy, Kyleigh, Christian, Grandma, Grandpa, Pappa and Nana and to all your family and friends
E – is for the excitement you show for all that is new to you and all of the things that you have grown to love
B – is for the beauty you see in everyone and everything. You see the best in everyone, their laugh, smile, funny way they make you laugh when they tickle you. You see the beauty in a bug on the ground, ant crawling in the backyard and a rainbow that appears after a rainstorm.
Caleb, you are an amazing boy. All that you do, all that you say, all that you share with us truly is amazing. I know you are only 4 ½ years old and you have a lifetime ahead of you. Mommy and daddy are so proud to call you our son and all the people that you have met are proud to call you their friend.
Mommy and Daddy
Well buddy, for all of two minutes you had a good run. You were our first born son and you where our world but two minutes later you became something more special than you could ever imagine. You became a big brother not only to your sister Kyleigh but also to your brother Caleb. Being a big brother has very special meaning, and you are the perfect person to be called a big brother. Why do you ask, well actually it is funny you ask. You see, mommy has three older brothers and daddy has two, so we know a few things about big brothers and we would love to share them with you.
First, big brothers are protectors. Just like you do with Kyleigh and Caleb, you look out for them. You make sure they are safe and happy. If Kyleigh and Caleb are unsafe you make sure that they feel safe as fast as you can whether you do it yourself with a hug or go get help by calling mommy and daddy.
Second, big brothers are caring. You are always there with a smile and a hug if someone is not feeling well or simply needs a laugh. Your personality is growing each day and anyone that is around you, enjoys their time spent around you.
Third, big brothers are loving. We cannot describe how loving you are. You are always there with a hug and a kiss. You always tell us you love us. You love Kyleigh and Caleb with all your heart because they know you are always there for them.
There are so many things that make up what a big brother is, and we would love to list them all and if we did, we could relate them all to you somehow. We just wanted you to know how special you are not only to mommy and daddy but Kyleigh and Caleb as well. You are a very special little boy with a lot of characteristics that with time will make you not only a very special boy but later in life a special man. We are so proud of you, and we cannot wait to see what your future holds.
Love Mommy and Daddy
One of my first personal blog posts created while I was on maternity leave with 8 week old twins. Back when I had a blogspot account...as I am much more official now with a fancy website (lol), I only hope one day I can move over my favorite posts and maybe make a memory book given I don't have anything else to document this beautifully chaotic life of ours!
Working at an Advertising Agency for the past 14 years I have spent countless hours profiling client products and target audience behavioral characteristics to understand the best time and place for ad consumption. This includes researching lifestyle habits, purchase patterns coupled with media offerings to align successfully against the strategic brand objectives. Throughout the year countless hours of work was brought to life by various clients such as…..
and the list goes on.....
I was able to break from that world while learning how to be a mommy of 2 new joys in my life alongside my cutie daughter and VERY hands-on husband. I am definitely not what anyone would describe as a homebody, so during my leave I made sure to enjoy the time with my family and get out and create a memorable summer often times with 3 kids in tote on my own.
I had always wanted to create 'a day in the life' for my family just like I did in my Strategic Planning days. My life was turned upside down, but in a very special way. Keeping my head above water the best I could .... many people asking how I do it or complete strangers telling me I have my hands full at the sight of me, this is my response.
Photography and capturing moments on film has been such an important part of my life....so here it goes profiling a regular day in July one year ago, Kyleigh 2 1/2 and boys 2 months.
After a few middle of the night feedings and a total of 4 hours of broken sleep my day began at 5:30am with the boys first feeding. My husband had left for work at 4:30am....by 6:30am I had the boys back asleep (note: not sure what time Kyleigh crawled in our bed but guessing around 4am).
Scott had taken the role of bottle duty and he got me all prepped and set up for the day! I'm so lucky for his help and currently I can always count on him to keep our kitchen and dishes in order.
Following the feedings I moved the boys into bed. Christian in the bassinet and Caleb in the pack and play. Previously both boys slept in the same space, but we started separating them around this time as they started rolling into each other.
It's about 6:50am and the boys started waking up again so I rotated them to the swings in order to wake up their big sister. Prior to maternity leave we were both out the door by 6:30 for school and work but oh how things have changes for the two of us.
I checked her summer school schedule to make sure I don't miss a sprinkler day or anything special prior to picking out Kyleighs outfit. I'm all set, but Kyleigh clearly is not (she is definitely my daughter).
Decided to shift gears, and take advantage of all 3 kids sleeping I empty the dishwasher and straightened up the kitchen.
The time is now 7am and they boys are up raring to go. With Kyleigh still sleeping I decide to get the boys ready for the day first. Outfits and diapers....check!
Time check: 7:54am, Ok now boys back in the swing so I can get Kyleigh moving!
Caleb distracts me a bit with some loud screams...but got this under control
The time is about 8am and it's bottle time. Kyleigh is up finally, but covers her ears to drain out the boys fussing while I make the bottles. Once the bottles are ready I usually feed both boys together and on special occasions Kyleigh wants to help.
8:36 boys are fed and Kyleigh is finally dressed. Time for teeth brushing, breakfast and some hand washing prior to starting the journey to school.
Eek it's 9:08 and we are just leaving, Regardless we have a fun journey to school where my crafty little girl gets some coloring in.
Washing hands prior to greeting her friends outside for morning recess (before the hot weather kicks in, summer school starts the day outside).
And we are back home just in time for the 3rd bottle of the day and a morning nap....and some laundry!
2 loads accomplished and some housework....and Christian is starting to wake up while Caleb sleeps on....
Following diaper changes made the bed finally!
During vacuuming Christian decided he needed some love...which I was glad to give him! Then, some more laundry!
Finally finished vacuuming the house and photographing the rooms as we were in the middle of listing our townhome for rent.....the goal of the new house is for our boys to have their own room!
Christian is ready for another round while Caleb sleeps tight....I skipped breakfast but having some quick lunch at about 1pm.
Caleb decided to join the fun and have lunch with Christian.
With Kyleigh at school decided on mid-afternoon baths, which both boys love.
Every day is a new journey and no two are the same....this was a special Monday as I had a good friend in town from TX. We had plans to meet up for dinner so the boys are all ready for the evening (hopefully).
Yeah, it's 2:30pm and I am finally showered and ready for the day!
And it is Caleb's turn for some love as Christian takes another nap.
One hand free, Caleb is allowing me to edit some photos.
And now some emails....I took a break from designing during my leave, but I did have 2 brides that I committed to prior that I was finishing up:-)
And now time to pick up big sister from school.
It's Disney Junior time as we patiently wait for daddy to get home from work.
Daddy's home and in charge of the boys....now it's Kyleigh's turn for a bath....lets get her all pretty for her friend Steven (my friend Laurie's cutie son from TX she met when she was 6 months old) and his little brother Camden.
OK I think we are almost ready to start packing up and head to dinner...
For those parents with toddlers and babies I'm assuming you can relate? Rock Bottom here we come!
I wish I had more restaurant pictures....it was an amazing time and a sight to see, party of 17 parents were outnumbered by the kids! I wish we had more time together, but it is always great to be with friends whenever we can!
Time-check....we are home @ 10:15. Thank goodness Kyleigh doesn't have school on Tuesday....time to get all 3 kiddos in bed we have a big day planned for tomorrow.....zoo with the Schuppert girls!
Just a little blogging and bed for me:-
Keep the good times rolling, next day Zoo trip waiting patiently for the Schuppert girls to meet us at Brookfield!
Being back at work for the past year, life has changed so much from this point...between adjusting to working, learning our new neighborhood and all of the different stages as the boys grow and develop. It has been such a rewarding and amazing journey and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.
Maybe one day soon I can complete another a day in the life....this time throwing work and school for all 3 kiddos into the mix.
Sometimes you just need and end of the week break....thanks to the Chicago weather, we got just that! Two weeks ago, I took a Friday off off to allow me to complete 2 design projects with upcoming deadlines. It's not very often I have the house to myself, and these days critical to get any kind of projects done as my kiddos are getting more and more interested in my computer, camera and paper! Well, those plans changed with upwards of 12 inches of snow and school cancellations. We mostly stuck inside watching the snow from afar, but did make it outside for a little while Scott shoved throughout the day....literally it looked like a winter wonderland snow globe! It was hard to keep your eyes open from all of the snowflakes and even harder to take pics (but we did get a few).
The good news is the next weekend I finished both projects early!
We are a busy family, always out and about, over-booking and over-enjoying every weekend possible as weekdays are consumed with school, work and sports. Today reality set in with the temperatures changes, winter is approaching, the days shorter and the weather will continue to get colder. It's not a secret for those that know us close, we are not planners...go with the flow is more our style. But as the kids are getting older, I do want to make sure we make time to try new experiences (for us) taking in all the season has to offer! With that said , we thought it would be fun to document the season with a bucket list full of fun items to try! If anyone has any suggestions please let us know!
Visit a tree farm and maybe talk that sweet hubby of mine into our first real tree - I know we are running out of time, but it's still worth a shot.
Pick up the home improvement list
Spending as much time with our family and friends as possible
Donate coats, partake in giving trees, embrace the season of helping others
Use our fireplace for the first time ever
Make a blanket fort and watch movies all day
Make a new crockpot meal once a week
Sign up for a local community event
Line the house in Holiday lights
Read a story to the kids before bed time each night
Take the kids to winter wonderland at Navy Pier.
Make time for weekly kid crafts
Take pictures as much as I can - and videos too!
Plan our next family trip
Take a trip to the library, this would be our first time as a family
Build a snowman
Go ice skating
See the local community holiday lights
And always remember to stop and enjoy the little things this season
This month - 11.11.13 to be exact is our house anniversary - as we celebrate 4 years of living here filled with so many memories, happy to say we finally have a completed kitchen! Our original hope was a total rehab, but given the kids were so young 2 years ago, we decided a mini-upgrade would fit us much better. Holding off on the nice new cabinets and flooring, we opted to paint our existing ones, new counter top, and stainless steel appliances.
While I loved our bright space, there were a few small projects in our future....and with the help of my handy brother in law and my husband (if you can believe) we added a fresh new coat of paint, trim around the base of the cabinets and island - and finally a backsplash which is my absolute favorite part! We are now the proud owners of a wet saw if anyone ever needs to borrow!
It's so crazy to think that our kitchen looked so different when we moved it, we seriously can't believe it! Excited to keep it moving, because you are never really done, right? 1 down 100 to go!
Round one complete November 2015
Original kitchen November 2013
Painter: Don Zerkel Decoration 815.263.5393
Countertops: Kraft Custom Design 815.485.5506
Appliances, sink and light fixture: Lowes
Table and Chair refinishing (light maple to white and yellow): Penelope Pumpernickel Reclaimed
Any free time we had this summer was spent park hopping throughout the neighborhood. Three spots in one day is not unusual for us to enjoy the everyday moment....which of course always ends with an ice cream trip. While I do miss these summer adventures, I am excited to see what this winter holds! I've already informed my hubby we are making a bucket list of fun activities...which includes braving the cold!
And for those that know me know close, know that I don't plan for anything in our personal lives. Given this is new for me, if you have ideas to enjoy the holiday / winter season feel free to pass along as we make this monumental list!
Timestamp @7:30pm, storm rolling in...the girls arrived at my house from dancing at intensives earlier in the day and spending the afternoon together. The plan was to take a rain-check but had the outfits ready for the past few weeks, so figured why not try to squeeze in few quick pics, right? We hurried up, tied up the post pool hair into top knots and headed out into the backyard sans shoes to see what we could come up with.
This special crew made my birthday weekend so very memorable! The kiddos were loving the sparklers until Caleb accidentally touched the hot part, after lots of hugs and kisses he was OK with sitting it out for the rest of the night...regardless he had so much fun watching Kyleigh and Christian from afar...between the 2 of them likely had around 20 sparklers each!
Happy 4th of July everyone!