Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Ten Years! [Iowa City, IA and Naperville, IL Family and Child Photographer]

"A lot of good love can happen in 10 years.." 
-- Jim Carrey

Ten years ago I took a chance on a BIG dream, and you all have been a part of making it real. 

Thanks so much for being a part of this crazy journey. I'm so very thankful for the opportunity I've been given to document so many amazing moments for my clients over the years - new life, new love, and a million memories.

As a thank you to all of my clients, I am doing something I've never done before! I'm opening up the archives!

What does that mean?

 For any session from 2009-2018 (sorry, 2019 doesn’t count for this deal), I’m giving you the opportunity to purchase your jpg files for $100 per session.

Yep, you heard that right.

  • Have more than one session you want? Each additional session is 50% off. 

  • If it made the gallery, you get it. Files are color corrected only, only fully edited images may be included if I used it for blogging or social media. Additional retouching is not available for this sale.

  • These are high resolution images, unwatermarked. You MUST have placed an initial order at the time of your session. Don’t worry, this is basically everyone.

This ends October 31st, 2019, and the archives will CLOSE. So, don’t wait! Email me ( to snag your precious memories!

Girl Boss: Stephanie from Stephanie Marie Photography

Happy Friday all! This post is part 6 in my weekly "girl boss" series (view the others HERE!) and this week is dedicated to the incredible Stephanie from Stephanie Marie Photography! This girl is crushing the boudoir game in Iowa City (she also does wedding photography and headshots - mine included and she always makes me look darn good!), so if you're in the market for some stunning photos of yourself - Check. Her. Out.

I've known Steph for about 5 years, and am constantly impressed by her talent and her incredible ability to build women up and make them feel like the goddesses they are! She is well traveled, a great mom, and her photography always makes my jaw drop. I admire her fearlessness in business, and her realness in friendship and life. I can't wait to see her in 5 years when all of her goals she listed below have come true! You can visit her at and and links to her social media can be found on both sites.


Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!


Tell me about your business, how did you begin?

I lived in Japan and Hawaii from 2005-2011 and during that time I became a Master scuba diver. I bought an underwater camera and would take photos underwater, so when I moved back to the U.S., I dreamed of buying a professional camera and becoming a photographer above water. A few months after I moved home to Iowa City, and with the support of my husband (then boyfriend) and my family, I bought my first pro camera and the rest is history! I'm now a full-time wedding and boudoir photographer and photograph about 15-20 weddings per year and an average of 12 boudoir sessions per month.

Advice you would give to future female entrepreneurs: 

I could write a novel!
1. No matter what decision you’re faced with; almost always go with your gut. If you’re still in doubt, get your closest friends/family on the phone or have a wine night and bounce ideas off of them.
2. Working SMARTER is better than working HARDER. Always follow your passion and cut back on what you don’t love doing.
3. Make sure you never compare what you do with other people in the same field – especially price-wise.

What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now? 

Transforming a large part of my home into a studio was a game-changer for me. It allows me to have my own unique space to photograph boudoir, families, brand experiences, and lifestyle beauty sessions. It’s also a great place to meet my future brides and grooms for a drink and to discuss their wedding.


What are some challenges you've faced along the way? 

With any business comes challenges; some that will make you question if you’re cut out for being an entrepreneur. The two smartest things I’ve done for my business to cut down on “challenges” are:
1. Hiring a great business lawyer.
2. Hiring an amazing tax advisor and accountant.

Tips for balancing career and family/personal life?

When I first started my business, I felt that if I wasn’t investing all of my time into it, I wouldn’t succeed. But making sure you set boundaries is SO important. Last year (after 6 years!!) I finally set office hours – this alone has allowed me to walk away from work at a certain time to relax with my hubby, daughter, and to snuggle my three ginormous dogs. You should run your business, your business shouldn't run you.

Describe your journey so far in three words:

Just. getting. started. (Her hubby said "Mother. Freakin'. Epic." - love a supportive partner!!)

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business? 

It’s a great feeling to know I’ve built something from nothing. But besides that, the people I meet through my business are definitely the most rewarding. I’ve built some amazing friendships because of photography and traveled to some really beautiful places.

Where do you see your business in 5 years? 

I plan on having studio locations in 1-2 more cities and in a few years I’d like to build a new home and design the studio of my dreams. That, plus continuing to travel a few times a year to check locations off my VERY large bucket list.

Girl Boss: Kelly from KP-ing It Simple

Happy Friday all! This post is part 5 in my weekly "girl boss" series (view the others HERE!) and this week is dedicated to Kelly from KP-ing It Simple. She has a fantastic food and wellness centered Instagram and blog, which you should definitely check out! I love her stories on Instagram where she breaks down some of the weight loss programs out there, from a very honest and science based point of view. This girl knows her stuff, and not only is she incredibly knowledgeable from a science perspective, but she also has first hand experience from her own weight loss and fitness journey about how to start and sustain the path to health.

Kelly's story has inspired me, and I am constantly liking her food photos on Instagram (drool worthy) so I have reference points on those "what do I make for dinner" nights. Check out the answers to my questions below where she shares her journey, advice to future entrepreneurs, and challenges she's faced along the way. She calls this her passion project, and I think you'll see why! Make sure to check out her Instagram (linked above) and blog KP-ing It Simple.

One other thing - if you don't have any plans this weekend, make sure to go to Marquee Pizza in the Iowa River Landing and order her collaboration pizza called "KP-ing It Local" through Saturday, June 30th! It's really delicious (I've had it twice already) and benefits the Coralville Food Pantry!


Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!

Tell me about your business, how did you begin?

In January of 2016, I tore my ACL when a snowboarder collided into me while I was skiing (an athletic activity that I really enjoyed!). While recovering from that injury, I decided that I was sick of being limited. I was sick of being tired, drained mentally and physically. That spring, I made te decision to start a nutrition program which served as a catalyst for a passion for health and fitness. What began as an Instagram food and fitness diary to keep myself accountable slowly grew into a platform where I dish out healthy recipes and evidence-based nutrition and exercise principles, served with a side of humor and sass. In 2018, I began partnering with brands to promote product lines and taking on sponsorships. My platform is now a side hustle that I am proud to call my own.

Advice you would give to future female entrepreneurs:

Just go for it. Don’t dwell on your ideas. Make them tangible. Whether that is finding the right people to help you form your idea into something concrete or sticking up for yourself and knowing your worth, just do it.


What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now?

I created something that is uniquely mine. While there are tons of “foodie” accounts on Instagram, I have found that my platform is different. It is different because I KP It Real. I share my authentic self and I do not deviate from my style. This allows me to come across as genuine, which is something that consumers value.

What are some challenges you've faced along the way?

For a while, I felt that I needed to build a large following before monetizing my work. This resulted in me putting a lot of work into things that had very little return. Once I understood my value, I was able to ask for what I felt that I deserved. As it turned out, I was worth even more than that. I think sometimes we can have tendencies to be more accommodating and do what we are asked, without asking for enough in return. This was certainly a challenge initially, but now I’m not afraid of asking for what I know that I am worth.

When my platform really started to grow, there was a lot of question about why I was spending so much time on something that “didn’t matter.” While it hadn’t taken off yet or had any potential as a source of income, I was seeing growth that others weren’t. I had faith in it, and I knew that I could make something out of what I had created. That faith in myself and what I had built was enough to keep me going through all of the doubt.

Tips for balancing career and family/personal life?

I am a nurse, nursing faculty, a PhD student, a lifter, a wife, a dog mom, and an influencer. It takes a lot of time to do all of those things and to do them well. It is absolutely essential to prioritize your time and put value on what is important to you. While some days I cannot go through and engage with my followers, I make up for it on other days. I also think it’s important to see what has the biggest impact to your business. Previously, I posted three times a day. This became entirely unrealistic. Instead of focusing on quantity of posts, I focused on producing quality content. Since then, my engagement has drastically increased and I reach far more unique accounts on a weekly basis than when I was posting three times per day.

Describe your journey so far in three words:

Surprising. Simple. Real.

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business?

I have gotten many messages from women who have told me that what I said resonated with them. That they experienced the same thing in their diet history or fitness journey and that they learned something from what I posted or shared on my Instagram stories. I’ve gotten messages saying that women have hated the idea of eating healthy, but that they tried one of my recipes and are now hooked. I’ve gotten messages from women saying that they feared the gym but saw that I worked out in shorts for the first time in years and that inspired them to go to the weight room. I feel as though I’ve touched lives, and that is extremely rewarding.

If this is your part time thing, what else do you do for a career?

I am a nurse, nursing faculty, and a PhD student. I’m BUSY.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Ideally, I’d love to see it grow into a 100k+ platform that with ongoing brand partnerships. I’d love to be able to source some of my research sample from my follower base. Finally, I want to keep enjoying producing quality health-related content. This is a passion-fueled project and one that I am very thankful to have.

Do you know an awesome Girl Boss you want to see featured? Email me:!

Girl Boss: Jess from Brides by Jessa

Happy Friday all! This post is part 4 in my weekly "girl boss" series (view the others HERE!) and this week I'm proud to feature my friend Jess, owner of Brides by Jessa.

Brides by Jessa is an intimate, upscale bridal store in the Iowa River Landing area of Coralville. She offers a custom experience for brides, so if you're in the market you MUST go check it out.

I really admire Jess for her strength, not only professionally, but personally as well. She is an awesome mama to two beautiful boys, a great friend, an inspiring entrepreneur and makes it all look effortless. While following her passion, she always puts her family first, which I believe is a key to her happiness and success as an entrepreneur. I hope you'll find her answers to my questions inspiring, whatever your personal journey may be!


Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!

Tell me about starting your business, what was your inspiration?

While I was in college, I was working at a jewelry store. We did a lot of custom pieces for brides to wear on their wedding day and I just loved working with them and making their vision come to life. Around the same time, I was taking some entrepreneurship classes and we had to write a business plan. Being just recently engaged, I decided to write a business plan for a Bridal Boutique as it was something I had always thought would be really fun! From there, we graduated from the University and ended up moving away for a couple of years for my husband’s work. When we returned to Iowa City, I was expecting our son Liam, and I wanted to create a career for myself where I truly enjoyed going to work everyday. My husband encouraged me to go for it and here we are, 4 years later!

Advice you would give to future female entrepreneurs: 

Be strong, brave, and trust your gut!

What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now? 

Always choosing to do what is best for my family, even if that means doing something that others do not agree with, and always asking for advice from other successful bridal boutique and business owners. You learn something new every day!

What are some challenges you've faced along the way? 

So many! Being a small business owner means you get to wear all of the hats. HR, Accountant, Buyer, Designer, Merchandiser, Negotiator. Trying to find the balance and learning to delegate when possible is so important. 

Tips for balancing career and family/personal life? 

Always put your family first! 

Describe your journey so far in three words: 

Empowering, Learning, Joy

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business? 

Making memories with so many brides by helping them choose the most memorable dress they will ever wear. 

Where do you see your business in 5 years? 

Expanded in terms of the quantity of styles we carry, but still small and intimate for our clients. 

Do you know an awesome Girl Boss you want to see featured? Email me:!

Girl Boss: Erica from inSpirit Healing Arts

Happy Friday all! This post is part 3 in my weekly "girl boss" series (view the others HERE!) and this week I'm proud to feature my masseuse, spiritual guru and friend Erica, who owns inSpirit Healing Arts in North Liberty, IA.

Erica is one of those people who you just love immediately, her energy is just so wonderful and she radiates love and kindness! I started going to Erica weekly for massages during a really tough personal time in my life, when I was also having some health issues and she was truly a God-send! She helped the healing process both physically with massage and Reiki, but also spiritually with her meditations during the massage. I honestly don't know what I would do without Erica, and am definitely going to miss her after my move (but I'll definitely be bugging her to get in when I am visiting!).


Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!

Tell me about starting your business, what was your inspiration?

For as long as I can remember, I had a great interest in all things Spiritual. My grandmother, Marian, was truly a saint of a woman, and I would have long conversations with her regarding religion and human nature. Her answers were always very meditated upon and introspective. I started meditating and practiced Buddhism at the age of 14. I knew, around that time, that I was interested in medicine or healing.

I began my study in pre-medicine at the University of Iowa in 1996. My personal interest in medicine slanted toward Eastern modalities, so I went to Acupuncture-Acupresse Institute in Miami after three years of undergraduate work at Iowa. As life would have it, I got a divorce while attending Chinese Medical School and returned to Iowa, where as a younger human and given my loose ends, I simply wanted to complete a degree as quickly as I could to get out into the "real world." It was fastest for me to get a degree in business, and I like math, so I got a degree in Finance. While back in school here at Iowa, I worked as a Physical Therapy Aide at Progressive Rehabilitation Associates, utilizing the bodywork skills I had attained at Chinese Medical school. After that I moved to Dallas, and started studying massage therapy, as I knew my passion was not in business. However, during that time, I had an opportunity to move to Bocas del Toro, Panama, a little group of islands off the coast of Costa Rica and Panama, to practice massage (you don't need a license there) and to teach yoga to the clients who stayed at the hotel where I lived. 

When it was time to return to the States, in 2003, I received my first Reiki attunement - an energetic healing work, and I began energetic healing work, while returning to school to get my Master's in Nursing. Again, as life would have it, I got pregnant, with my amazing son, Alexander. As a single mom, I decided that I did not want to spend the time during his early years, working, studying, and being in rotations, so utilize that Finance degree, I did! When Alexander went to Kindergarten, I knew that I needed to return to my passion, full-time. I cashed in my 401K, left the safety net of my corporate job (much to the chagrin of my mother), and went to the Shiatsu Clinic & School to earn my massage therapy license... The rest is history! My work is dedicated to healing through bodywork, meditation, intuitive guidance, and taking care of yourself on all levels- physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. I love what I do, as truly it is a testament to all of my life experiences and studies, and it brings me joy to share with my amazing clients. 

Advice you would give to future female entrepreneurs: 

No matter what life throws at you, you can attain your dream. There is ALWAYS a means; remember the Universe is infinitely abundant. Know this to be true; work hard, and opportunities and the support of your friends, family, your partner, and other female entrepreneurs will rise up to greet you. If you choose the path of motherhood, being a mother is not a block to success. In fact, what better way to teach hard work, dedication, and a sense of being able to achieve your heart's desire, than to do so yourself. There is a wave in the rise of the Divine Feminine right now, so I encourage you to embrace that energy and bring your own inner goddess to global consciousness.

What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now? 

Taking a leap of faith is typically necessary when embodying your life's path. I have taken risks, and through dedication and hard work, those risks have been greatly rewarded. My heart and sincerest gratitude is in what I do each and every day, and I think that authenticity is a great part of my success.

What are some challenges you've faced along the way? 

Finding the perfect work-life balance has definitely gotten easier as my son has gotten older, but those early years proved a little more challenging where extra time was concerned to dedicate time to my studies- during the time at massage school- and later, to business development outside of my regularly scheduled healing sessions. Health insurance, as an entrepreneur, has always been a concern for myself and for my son. I was very thankful when Obamacare came into play, as it made that aspect more attainable for me.

Tips for balancing career and family/personal life? 

Learn when to say no. One of the joys and, at the same time, the difficulties of owning your own business is the ability to create your own schedule. Particularly, in the beginning, it is difficult to say no to new business, and in fact, probably a necessity. Know that this period can be sculpted as your move through your journey of creating a schedule that truly allows you to live your fullest life in all areas.

Describe your journey so far in three words: 

Miraculous. Joyful. Healing.

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business? 

Being able to do what I most love, healing body, mind and spirit, every day, whilst being able to be a present and grateful mother by having the flexibility in my schedule and joy in my heart to bring home.

If this is your part time thing, what else do you do for a career? 

This is it! Part of the greatness of being an entrepreneur is being able to fold in any aspect of your life of which you are passionate. The creative outlets are limitless and create new opportunities for dabbling in all areas that you love!

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

Ultimately, I will have a spiritual retreat where clients can stay for a multitude of modalities, classes, or a time to decompress away from our fast-paced lives. This may or may not unfold within that 5 year span... I do know, however, that I will be dedicated to my spiritual yogic practice during that time, teaching yoga when the time is ripe, continuing to see clients for healing session, and sharing the joy of my spiritual path, as well as the path of others, all along the way!

Do you know an awesome Girl Boss you want to see featured? Email me:!

Girl Boss: Coelle from Coelle Hope

Happy Friday all! This post is part 2 in my weekly "girl boss" series (view the first one HERE!) and this week I'm proud to feature one of my closest friends, Coelle from Coelle Hope.

Fun fact: Coelle and I met when I photographed her first son's newborn photos and then later, she trained as my assistant before moving to Madison about 2 years ago. She is super creative, hilariously funny, and is amazing at interior design. After living in two different homes in the Madison area within the first year, she honed her decorating skills on her own interiors and found that people were drawn to her style and eye for functional yet beautiful family friendly design. Her experience as a mom, living with three busy boys, has also given her an edge in the kid friendly department. ;) She recently was featured as the cover story in Brava Magazine June edition, and just did a fun Instagram playroom tour for the innovative Nugget couch for kids (or fun loving adults I suppose!). Trust me, this girl is one to watch!

Her website is coming soon, but until it's launch you can follow her on instagram HERE.

Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!


Tell me about starting your business, what was your inspiration?

Creating has always been a part of who I am and I have always found a way to incorporate it into my life. I was doing family photography at the time I decided to make the switch to interior design and styling. I enjoy photography but I am passionate about design! My family moved twice in one year and this taught me so much about making your space functional, sourcing home items, and setting up a family friendly home. We did a few projects to our current home after moving in one year ago and I started receiving compliments on the progress we made, and having friends ask for help with their own home projects. I realized that if given the chance I will always chose to look at home design/architecture/style magazines, Instagram feeds etc. And that is about when it hit me that is what I should be doing!

Advice you would give to future female entrepreneurs:

Be brave, never be afraid to promote yourself! Dream big and don’t let anyone discourage your dreams. Be kind and collaborative with other creatives in your community. And know there will be ups and downs while working towards your goals, and riding out the low moments is part of the process.

What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now?

I’m early in the process but for me it was just taking the jump and telling everyone I was going for it. That opened the doors to a lot of support and my first client opportunities.

What are some challenges you've faced along the way?

So far most challenges have involved balancing business and family life. Such as mom guilt about leaving the kids to work on the business or spending the money on a babysitter.

Tips for balancing career and family/personal life?

Honestly, I’m still figuring this out and probably always will be! One thing I have been noticing lately is that I can fill every moment the kids are gone or asleep with building my business if I’m not careful…  but I need to remember to carve out time for myself and/or my husband as well!

Describe your journey so far in three words:

Just. the. beginning! (of something awesome!) Is that cheating, that’s more than three! ha!

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business?

I had a really rewarding moment when my oldest son Julian  (5 years old) told me that he wanted to be an artist AND a veterinarian when he grew up because “you are good at so many jobs Momma”. This conversation really drove home that my boys are seeing me pursuing my passion and taking it in.  I want them to know they can do anything they set their minds to. I want them to know that pursuing either creative endeavors or a non-traditional career deserves just as much recognition. And I also want them to know that women are equally capable to achieve!

Big picture though, it is very rewarding to know that I am in control of my own success. Each step of growth feels good because I know that is directly related to what I am putting into it.

If this is your part time thing, what else do you do for a career?

I also work on-call as a Women’s Health Nurse. I love doing this as well. I enjoy the team aspect of health care and the joy involved in helping others through big and difficult moments in their life. I have always needed more hours in the day for my interests!

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I see a steady stream of projects and fun clients! I see an assistant!

Do you know an awesome Girl Boss you want to see featured? Email me!

Girl Bosses: Holly and Kayla from Tru Salon

Happy Friday everyone! Today's post is the start of several in a personal project that I started to feature some of the awesome girl bosses I have in my life! These women do it all: they are entrepreneurs, artists, mothers, inspirational leaders... while encouraging other women around them to be the best they can be. It is said that if you want to know who someone is, look at who they surround themselves with, and I absolutely believe that I am a better business owner, friend, and overall human because of the women you'll see featured here.

Today I'm kicking off the series with two of my favorite people - Holly and Kayla from the amazing Tru Salon in Coralville, Iowa. These women are truly some of the most creative, inspiring, and encouraging people I've had the pleasure of knowing. Holly is an incredible hairstylist, but also a great boss babe building her empire while encouraging her team to reach their highest potential. Kayla is one of those women that has talent oozing out of her, she's an artist, hairstylist, makeup artist...this girl can do it all. On top of all of their top notch business skills, these ladies are also incredible mothers, and amazing friends. If you haven't had the pleasure of visiting Tru Salon, you must check it out.

So, here are the girl bosses of Tru Salon..I asked everyone the same questions in these posts, so hopefully you will get a feel for how they made their business dreams a reality! I hope that you are as inspired by all of these ladies as I am!

Also, thank you to Elizabeth from Girl Wonderful who sent me some shirts after I bought two for myself and was inspired to do this project. Please, check her out - I love what she stands for and her tees would make a great gift for yourself or any awesome girl you know!


Tell me about starting your business, what was your inspiration?

Holly: My inspiration began with wanting to provide an exceptional experience for my guests while making them shine from the inside out! As we’ve grown my inspiration also comes from growing leaders and providing careers for motivated, driven individuals. I love helping dreams come true!

Kayla: While I only recently became an owner, I have worked in the salon industry for many years and love the opportunity to connect with guests as well as coworkers! As an owner I am looking forward to helping young girls establish careers for themselves as well as strengthen themselves as individuals.

What advice would you give to future female entrepreneurs?

Holly: Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. As my mentor told me, if you are the smartest person at the table, you are sitting at the wrong table!

Kayla: Think positively and understand that mistakes are strictly learning opportunities!  Your team deserves a positive attitude and outlook on the future!

What decisions have you made that you feel have gotten you to where you are with your business right now? 

Holly: I’m never to proud to ask for help and/or advice!

Kayla:  I decided to never get complacent.  It’s easier to let someone else take all the risk, but no reward comes from that!

What are some challenges you've faced along the way?

Holly: Learning that we are not the right salon home for everyone and that’s ok! That was an important lesson. You must learn what type of person will succeed in your business and only hire them. It is not only the best thing you can do for yourself, but for them too!

Kayla: Becoming a leader comes with many responsibilities and one of them is learning to lead by example, pull the rope, don’t push.  Team members are much more encouraged to change their attitude or habits when you are working right alongside them setting the standard.


Something I think men and woman both struggle with is balance! What are your tips for balancing career and family/personal life? 

Holly: There has to be a balance. If you ignore one area they both hurt. If you put effort and love into both then they both flourish. It’s interesting, but I’ve found the more time I devote to connecting with my fiancĂ©, the more I’m able to give in my career.

Kayla: Make it happen! It’s so important, if you don’t spend time on yourself or your personal life, it will suffer..requiring more attention in the end. Dave Ramsy says, if you don’t have time to exercise now, how will you have time for triple bypass surgery?

Describe your journey so far in three words: 

Holly: life-changing, empowering, rewarding

Kayla:  strengthening, educational, motivating

What as been the most rewarding part of owning/running your own business? 

Holly: My first thought is all of the relationships I’ve developed. There is so much love! Secondly, the strength and confidence it has given me is priceless. We are all capable of more than we can imagine and that is so empowering!

Where do you see your business in 5 years? 

Holly: I see multiple Tru locations filled with passionate and empowering individuals going after their dreams while lifting up everyone around them!

Kayla: Multiple locations and a gang of fierce hairstylists chasing their dreams!

Do you know an awesome Girl Boss you want to see featured? Email me!

Iowa Farm Sanctuary [Marengo, IA Animal Photography]

I met Shawn a couple of years ago now, and was so excited to hear the news when she and her husband Jered finally realized their dreams of opening a farm sanctuary here in Iowa. Hearing about all of the hard work they had put into to making this happen prior to visiting, I was so thrilled to be invited out to photograph their residents.

I was greeted when I arrived by Bennie the goat, along with Jered, who introduced me one by one to each of the Farm Sanctuary's adorable residents. Hearing all of these gentle creatures' stories of survival was sad, but hearing how each of them finally ended up at this compassionate, peaceful place where they can live out their lives was incredibly inspiring. Spending my afternoon (about 4 hours to be exact), snuggling, photographing, and just enjoying these animals roaming the farm fields was the bright spot in my week.

Here are some of the photos I took, and if you are interested in attending their Spring "Pig-nic" on May 5th, tickets are sold out but they are releasing more soon (follow them on instagram @iowafarmsanctuary) and also are giving away a ticket and you can nominate your friends to win! If you are curious about what they do, want to donate, or want to know more about the animals they have saved, please check out!











My Einer [Personal]


It's been just over 4 months since I lost my sweet Einer. He was my best friend, my baby, and losing him was one of the toughest days of my life thus far. Not only was he such a part of my personal life, but was also the face of my business...literally. Five years ago when I did my branding, I asked specifically for Einstein to be a part of my logo - and my amazing branding team Braizen not only came up with an image drawn from a photo of my beloved pup, they also found that my last name means "little dog". So fitting that he was such a huge part of my life and business for so long, and will continue to be forever.


I felt like this post was due, to end a chapter and pay tribute to my sweet Bubba, on the eve of getting a new pup. It was something that I felt I had to be ready for, and I knew that I needed to get a different breed this time, as Einstein was one of a kind. He will continue to be part of my business logo, and will live on through all of those who loved him. These photos are credited to my friend Stephanie Watts, of Stephanie Marie Photography, and were taken one and half weeks before he died. I had no idea how important these photos would be to me, and it just re-emphasized why I do what I do. Please, don't wait to take photos with those you love - whether they are human or animal. I miss him every day, so much that it hurts, and I'm forever thankful that I have these images.

Thank you to all who loved Einstein, and to those who supported me through the long, difficult days after losing him. Your support meant everything to me. Thank you.

Moving forward in 2015 [Personal]


Every year, I sit down and write out goals that I have for myself both personally and professionally throughout the coming months. Sometimes it's specific things I want to achieve, sometimes it's an overall feeling I want my year to have, or ways in which I want to grow as a person as well as a photographer. This year I've decided it's about being fearless. Being afraid is part of life - fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough. Fear of losing the things I've worked so hard for, or the people I care most about. It's something I let in my head more often than I should, and though I know I can't get rid of it completely - I'm going to do my best to take the steps to live fearlessly this year.

Part of this, I've decided - is sharing my hopes and dreams out here in the open. So, lovely readers, here goes nothing...

I want to feel free. Free from that little voice in my head that really isn't the nicest person on earth. To follow my intuition, and listen to my heart.

I want to travel. Destination wedding anyone? Hook me up. I want to experience things away from the comfort of my bubble here in Iowa City.

I want to teach...a workshop maybe. I love helping other people embrace their passion and find their voice. It motivates me, and inspires me. Helping someone peel back the layers of themselves and encouraging them to live from their heart makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Stop filling my life with stuff and work and instead make more time to focus on family and friends. Because in the end, that's all that really matters.

Be true to who I am, as a person, but most importantly as an artist. Take photo assignments that inspire and energize me, and cultivate a life that makes me feel good on the inside not just one that looks good to everyone else.

Don't be afraid. I want to slam the door on fear this year, and like Nike says - just do it. ;)

And finally, this year I want to feel content. Grateful. Hopeful. Loved. Inspired. Happy.

Here's to an an amazing, fearless 2015. Hope you all will be a part of it.

On Moving Forward...


It's been nearly a year since I went full time with photography. Some days it feels like it's been just a few months, and other days it feels like it's been ten years. The past year has been full of every emotion known to man - I've felt intense loss, as well as joy. I've cried tears of sadness, probably more in the past year than I have in my entire life, and I've also laughed until my stomach ached and tears of happiness ran down my face as I tried to catch my breath. I've lost friends, and gained new ones.

This year I've had opportunities that have changed the way I feel about photography. Experiences that have changed me as a person. Relationships that have built me up, and relationships that have left me broken. Most of all though, I've realized who, and what really matters to me the most. I've realized that doing what you love is the thing that keeps you moving forward when you are exhausted, but that sometimes you also need friends and family to hold you up along the way.

Things will be changing a little bit at Jen Madigan Photography over the next year. I've realized many things about myself, and the direction in which I want my life and business to go moving forward. I want to go back to the reason that I started this - to tell people's stories in a natural, timeless way. I want to tell YOUR story, not someone else's that you saw on Pinterest. I want to know my clients, and I want to photograph their families as they grow. I want my business to be personal, because that connection is important to me.

I also want to thank everyone for your incredible support, opportunities to try new things, and for trusting me to document some of the most important times in your lives. So many of my clients have become friends, and I'm so grateful to know each and every one of you. I couldn't do this without you, and I can't wait to continue to photograph you all for years to come.

Office Makeover [Personal]

I've always wanted a home office where I could meet potential clients and also have a place other than my living room to sit and edit, and last summer I really decided to get serious about redoing the front room in my house for that purpose. However, things got a little crazy, and the project kept getting postponed. Recently, the makeover was completed and I can't wait to start meeting clients in here! There are a few minor things I still want to do (add a plant to my desk for one thing), but overall this is the finished product! I'm so thrilled with how it turned out.

A before and after of the office...







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Life via Instagram: March 2014 [Personal]

I haven't done one of these in awhile! Winter is sort of like summer break for photographers, as the majority of sessions (especially in Iowa) take place April - October/November. So, I've spent the early part of 2014 traveling, snuggling with my nieces, seeing JT in concert, and...redoing my office! Now I will have a space to meet all of my prospective brides & grooms for 2015 wedding consults. I am in the midst of decorating, but there are a few "progress pics" below. ;)

Happy 2nd Birthday Clara! [Personal]

I just wanted to take a minute to say Happy Birthday to my sweet Clara dog. She just gets sweeter and more snuggly each day! She loves treats, being a parrot on my shoulder, destroying toys in 5 minutes flat,  running, and torturing Einstein on a regular basis. She's also a great lap warmer. :)

Also, while looking for some photos to post, I realized I take a LOT of Clara pics over the course of the year. It's possible I need a 12 step program. Here are some that embody this crazy little dog…

Happy Holidays!

This will be my last post of 2013, and I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holiday and a fabulous 2014!! Thank you all for your unwavering support - I couldn't ask for better clients and friends (and clients who have become friends). See you next year! :)

2013 Year in Review [Personal]

This year has been a complete whirlwind, even more so than years past. The year began with Julian's lifestyle newborn session, which completely changed the way I approach newborn sessions, and ended with a newborn session for my cousin's sweet Emersyn. I found that maternity sessions are some of my favorite, and I am so blessed to have wedding couples that I absolutely, 100% ADORE (no bridezillas here!!).

This year was very difficult on a personal level for me, as I left my job of 11 years to do photography full time in September. It was no doubt, one of the hardest, most emotionally draining decisions I've ever made - but at the same time I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love full time. On the up side, it's also been an exciting year for me personally as I welcomed 2 beautiful nieces, made some amazing new friends (some of whom have absolutely changed my life in the short time I've known them), and had the opportunity to travel and relax (a little).

To all of those who have supported me both personally and professionally in the last year - thank you. I couldn't have done it without you. I have realized this year the importance of having a great support system of friends and family who will stand by you no matter what and I can't thank them enough.

As for 2014 - I don't know what the year will bring, but I hope it brings lots of love, laughter, and good health.

Here's a little sample of my year in photos...

Meet Coelle!

I have been so excited to introduce Coelle to all of you here on the blog as the newest addition to the Jen Madigan Photography team! Coelle is my new assistant and also the stylist that will be providing consults to all of the moms at newborn sessions (but is also available for any other session, just ask!). She is also joining me at sessions as an assistant, and will hopefully be shooting alongside me by the end of 2014. ;)

I had been looking at hiring an assistant once I went full time in September, but wasn't quite sure how to find the perfect person. Like all good things, everything seemed to fall into place when I told Coelle I was looking for someone and she was also looking to add a more creative, flexible job into her life as she cut back hours at her other job to spend more time with her son.

Coelle, in my opinion, is the perfect fit for Jen Madigan Photography and I know you all are going to adore her as much as I do! She has fabulous taste, is incredibly stylish (obviously), hilarious, and so much fun to be around. She is an amazing addition to my team, and I can't wait for you all to meet her!

A few words from Coelle…

"When Jen and I first discussed the idea of me working as her assistant and stylist for her clients, I thought she was joking; it was too good to be true! I had been thinking about what I could do to incorporate more creativity and my love for design into my life. My hobbies have always included the arts, and I have been a go-to source for design advice with family and friends for as long as I can remember. I met Jen when my husband and I contacted her to photograph my newborn son last year. Our session was a ton of fun and I was blown away by Jen’s work! She captured the love and excitement we felt in such a beautiful and soft way. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of Jen Madigan Photography! I am excited to learn all about the process and details that go into delivering wonderful images, as well as meeting all of Jen’s fantastic clients!

I live in Iowa City with my husband, Christopher, and my one year old son, Julian. I grew up in New Glarus, Wisconsin (yes, home of the New Glarus Brewery for all you Spotted Cow fans). I moved to Iowa City to get my Master’s in nursing, which I now use to work at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in the general pediatric clinic. I love hiking, running, yoga, and traveling (although my son has put a new spin on flights, eek!) I can’t go too long without shopping, Pinterest, or attempting a new crafting project. If I find extra time you might find me reading, searching iTunes for new music, or baking. A few of my favorite things: leggings, polka dots, office supplies (a new pack of pens or sharpies!), children’s books, live music, and organizing!"

Life via Instagram: Fall 2013

I haven't posted one of these in awhile! Life has been hectic since I went full time in September - fall was full of weddings, new nieces being born, and traveling quite a bit. More coming on all of that later, but for now - a little taste of what I've been up to the past couple of months (besides taking photos of course!).


Top row (l to r): New shorter haircut courtesy of Holly at Tru Salon, on the road again, Bend, OR trip Middle row (l to r): Halloween costume, meeting my cousin's baby boy, beautiful fall leaves at a session, Bobbi + Mike's workshop in Indiana 
Bottom row (l to r): Reunited with my best friend Jen, puppy snuggles on a snowy Monday, kidnapping Marius, meeting my niece Lillian.

Ruffles + Ribbons Baby Shower [Personal]

My family is currently preparing to welcome two new additions this fall, with 2 of my younger sisters expecting their first babies (both girls!!). So, to celebrate, we threw them a pink and white adorned, ruffles and ribbons themed baby shower on August 17th. Here are some photos from their day! :)

We held the shower at The Vincent House in Fort Dodge, IA (near my hometown of Humboldt), an old Victorian House which was absolutely beautiful. Cookies were made by Sprinkles & Company, Cupcakes by 4 Sweet Sisters, frozen yogurt bar and toppings were purchased by family/friends.

Special thanks to Sheryl, Abby, Sandy, Emma, and my mom for all your help! Also thanks to Coelle Smith for some fabulous ideas. :) 

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