A Dream Come True

I literally saved a fortune being the mom of four boys. I know, I know, boys have a lot of expenses too, but it is just not easy to spend a lot dressing boys. No matter what I wanted them to put on, they ended up wearing me down, donning basketball shorts and camp t-shirts, even throughout the Chicago winter.

 

Maybe this is why I have always been OBSESSED with girls clothes as a photographer. I love dressing girls in all kinds of pretties and doing their hair, just so. A few years ago, I stumbled upon Australian dress maker Tutu Du Monde, which can only be described as every girl’s fantasy. Each tutu inspired dress is reminiscent of a vintage dancer’s garment with elegant touches of dream inspiring feathers, beading and sequins in the softest and most feminine color palettes. Add in their hair accessories, capes, leggings and ballet shoes to complete the fantasy.

At first, I rented a few of the dresses for a photo shoot with a few special clients. The girls faces lit up seeing the dresses for the first time. With eyes wide as saucers and a giddy excitement, they slid into the dresses and the rest was pure magic. They twirled and whirled and kept running back to the mirror to again appreciate their transformation. What is it about a gorgeous dress, especially one so delicate and utterly lovely, that can transport a girl to another world?

 

I decided right then that I needed to stock my studios full time with these dresses so all of our client’s could feel that same magic every day. And magic they have felt.

 

One thing led to another, and we got the attention of Andrea Rembeck, the genius creator behind the brand Tutu Du Monde. It turns out TTDM has a near cult following worldwide. This has all led up to the exclusive collaboration between Classic Kids and TTDM…

… a dream come true.

– Julie

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Winnetka Studio Renovation

Oh, how I love a good remodeling project! In my next life, I want to be an interior designer.

I recently got to redesign and remodel the interior of my studio in Winnetka, Illinois, my “home” studio of the last 18 years. It is a photographer’s dream space, with 20 foot ceilings, wood rafters and lots of gorgeous light.

 

This reno was a tricky one as it is in a 100 year old building (originally a large laundry), with original brick walls and floors that are anything but plum.  Within an expanse of 10 feet, there is literally a change in floor elevation of 4 inches! The brick was awesome, but its dark, orange-ish color was all wrong for the modern look that I was after and did not lend itself well to serving as a back drop for my photos.

So I twisted the arm of my landlord until he gave me permission to paint the brick a gorgeous, super soft light grey. You’ll see in the photos, it looks almost white. Those who are sticklers for preservation might be screaming right now, but I feel a bit entitled, after 18 years, to put my own mark of history on those old walls.

To go with the soft gray brick, I chose to rip out all the carpet that had seen way too many dogs and babies over the years and just refinish the ancient cement that was underneath.  Industrial chic, I told myself. My initial thought was that this floor treatment would save tons of money.  Wrong.  This turned into a big deal, with all that patching, grinding and sanding, and, to put it mildly,  no one in the building appreciated the dust nor the scent of the finish. It ended up costing twice as much as carpeting, but I absolutely love the look! So much easier to keep clean and hygienic and definitely gives off a really cool vibe. Winter boots, you have met your match!

To increase my storage space (the entire studio, including the proof viewing room, is under 1700 square feet), I ripped out a too-narrow storage closet, instead floating shelves from the wall and covering the entire unit with 100″x 100″ long delicious “washed belgian linen” curtains from Restoration Hardware. There are breaks between the panels allowing for easy access to the shelves.  I LOOOOOVE the way the curtains and other soft goods in the studio soften up the otherwise austere cement and “white” brick. Next, with all that additional storage space, I converted what was the largest storage closet into a luxurious new dressing room.

For furnishings, as I so often do, I turned to my go-tos, Restoration Hardware and Room and Board.  I love the mix of vintage/salvaged with sleek and modern/contemporary.  The vintage, juxtaposed against the modern, provides a certain coziness and makes the edges of the room a bit rounder and fuzzier, if that makes sense!

Two of my favorite pieces in the main studio are the rugs.  One is a vintage Turkish rug, which, up until 3 weeks ago, called Istanbul “home” and the other a mod black and white cowhide rug. Another odd mix which seems to work.  A vintage clothing rack and two round sparkly chandeliers complete the look.

The renovated studio is now just so light, fresh and clean and it has such a positive energy.  It feels like space where my brain has the air and light it needs to be creative. It’s elegant, a bit irreverent and comfortable all at the same time.

 

We’re having a fabulous champagne reception in this newly renovated space on April 19th. Stay tuned! 

– Julie

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Bunnies, Bunnies, Bunnies!

For the first time ever, Classic Kids is doing a bunny photo event!  I never thought we would ever do such a thing, mainly because of bad childhood memories of super cheesy posed bunny and chick shots. You all have seen those, right?!  The light bulb went on, however, during a recent trip to a local pet shop that has the most adorable rescue bunnies up for adoption. The early spring we are experiencing here in Chicago also had me dreaming of Easter and the impending Spring.  My ten year old son was crazy for the bunnies, and quite simply, there is no creature on the earth as adorable as a bunny!

Why not do a bunny event if we could do bunny shots in a much elevated way?  Bunnies are great to work with.  Their fuzzy bodies combined with the softness and rosy cheeks of children could be an irresistible combination! Add in the sheer delight of the children and we can create art! It got me thinking…

I began doing some research into bunnies.  They are the third most popular pet in the US behind dogs and cats.  And they are also the third most abandoned pet in the US behind dogs and cats.  It seems that there are oodles of bunnies out there in need of a good home!  Who knew?  There are actually shelters and vets all across the US who take in abandoned bunnies.  The lucky bunnies find no-kill shelters, but unfortunately many do not!  Same as cats and dogs.  The clear trend with cats and dogs has been to adopt homeless animals instead of getting them from breeders.  Makes sense to take care of animals that already exist on this planet.  Same for bunnies.

So our bunny event was born!  We are bringing in adorable rescue bunnies to pose with your children.  Bunny handlers will be present to make sure that the bunnies are carefully loved and not over taxed.  If you fall hopelessly in love with one of the bunnies and want to be it’s forever home, great!  But if you don’t, or can’t, part of the session fee will go to a wonderful bunny shelter to help take care of all the abandoned bunnies.

Bunnies can make the perfect pet for the right family.  Well cared for bunnies can live for 10 to 12 years, don’t make noise, are smart, can be trained for a litter box, and can be very affectionate with their owners when properly socialized.  They don’t need to be walked, but do need plenty of time out of their cages to explore and hop around.  They do need to be carefully handled, so may not make the perfect pet for small children unless the child can be supervised at all times around the bunny.  Like dogs and cats, this may not be a good pet for those with allergies!

Here’s to gorgeous, artistic images of two of the Universe’s most precious creatures, bunnies and children!

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– Julie

(owner, Classic Kids)

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Your Family as ART

Trend: Black and white fine art photography done large scale in home interiors

Think child photography, highly elevated. So elevated, in fact, that it becomes premier, captivating art in your home. Truly, what could be better than using your own beautiful family to decorate your home? Art work that is not only beautiful, but meaningful to you?

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As any parent knows, there is nothing that stirs the soul more than the face and other sweet features of a child. What could be better than to capture these features artfully and create beautiful fine art pieces to be displayed stylishly in the home? Art work that is not only objectively lovely, but also meaningful and emotional?

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Black and white photography has been gaining steam in recent years as legitimate art worthy of prominent display in the home. Think Ansel Adams, Irving Penn and Carlos Tarrats. Art galleries are now filled with black and white photography.

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Design trends have clearly embraced quality black and white photography as fine art and in bold new ways. Think BIG! Large pieces are so on-trend. But you cannot just use any photograph in these large pieces. They should speak to you in the same way poetry and music do. They should call upon your appreciation of beauty and be infused with emotion. Child photography, elevated.

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How wonderful to hang these special pieces on your walls so that your art work doesn’t just look good, but it stirs your emotions as you walk through your home.

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We love these art pieces printed expertly by our very own lab on archival fine art canvas. We also frame our canvases in-house with elegant, simple frames that give the pieces a finished look, but don’t draw the eye away from the image. All the pieces in this post are 40×60, except the newborn, which is 40×40 and the girl on a Paris park bench and the boy above the fireplace, both of which are 30 x 40.

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Quite simply, we are in LOVE!

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Soulful Sessions

To Smile or Not to Smile, That is the Question

For me, there is just no question at all.

There is nothing I love more than a soulful, non-smiling photograph of a child. I think when children are not smiling, and just looking or engaging in whatever they are doing, they are at their most beautiful.

The beauty of their faces, plump and soft, skin as smooth as cream is more apparent. Their beautiful clear eyes are at their largest, and their beautiful, plump lips are at their fullest when not contorted by a smile.

Their gaze is mysterious and the viewer of the photograph is left to wonder what they are thinking and feeling.

Who can argue that photographs of smiling and laughing children are not precious also? Who doesn’t want to see their children joyous and happy? I love shots like these also. In fact, Classic Kids was built on joyful shots.

Nonetheless, for me, the photos I hang of my own children in my home, are the soulful ones. They aren’t unhappy, they are just neutral. Like my children are most of the time. Just natural.

This month, we are introducing a new studio look that features soulful expressions. We love it because it’s fresh and modern yet still so very timeless. We are hoping you love these as much as we do!

It’s all about the eyes…

Portrait of a Young Boy in a White Shirt Giving a Meaningful Look, Not Smiling - Classic Kids PhotographyPortrait of an Infant Girl in Bandanna and White Dress, Not Smiling - Classic Kids PhotographyPortrait of a Young Girl in White Bandanna and Top, Not Smiling - Classic Kids PhotographyPortrait of a Young Girl Looking Over Her Shoulder, Not Smiling - Classic Kids Photography

Julie

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