Wednesday, January 23, 2019
By April Graves
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As I sit here writing this post, the whirring and scraping of my son and my neighbors clearing driveways to get the morning commute is underway.  I am fighting the temptation to make myself a hot cocoa...after all, I am trying to only eat what nourishes me...but then my mind is like…(in a rather haunting intonation) ” cocoa will nourish your spirit...and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”  NOPE not going to do it...just like I’m not going to let my son stay home from school despite the begging!


Admittedly, I love the snow.  I love the way it falls so gently but has such a huge impact.  I love the way it blankets the earth in pure crystalline white.  I love the way it perches upon the branches of the bare trees and the way the footprints of mother nature’s furry friends trail thru it as if to say they love a good snow day too!


I love the portraits I made 3 years ago of my children in the snow.  They hang above the fluted, silver washed desk in my office at the studio.  They make me smile every time I look at them and the fond memories from that session flood my mind.  I remember that snow seemingly coming from nowhere in the middle of around the house the night before searching for just the right outfits for them to wear.  My husband Peter watched the session take place in our car so the kids could pop in and out to warm up.


I marvel that in 3 short years my son William went from being so much smaller than his sister to being 5’10”.  I cannot believe that Alyssa is graduating from high school this May! My babies have grow up so fast.


The session was short...30 minutes at most...but the portraits and memories from that day are ones I will treasure for a lifetime.  


My hope for you is that someday I can create the same types of portraits for you and your loves to hold in your hearts and to hang upon your walls for a lifetime of forevers.  






Wednesday, January 09, 2019
By April Graves
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For years I have promised myself and my team that I would do a weekly blog...I even have added a blog page to my site...that I never has existed on my site for years with few words gracing its page...well...that is about to change.


You see, I actually LOVE to write.  In fact, I love words...I love words so much that each year I write a story...YES...a story about what my life will look like for the coming year.  Who’s life I will be able to make an impact upon with my work, which charities we will work with, what new and exciting experiences I will have with my family...what dreams will become realities.  


Each year I pick a word to live by...yep...I’m one of those cheesy people who picks a word...not by the letter of my name...not because a friend on social media writes a post, but because each year there seems to be a word that when all is still and my last Holiday orders have been delivered...our New Year has been that calm when I am donning sweats (this year’s are velour), my mind and body relax and a word comes to me.


This year my word came to me after a total pig out...I found myself enjoying my peace and quiet...a rare moment when I had a couple of hours all to myself.  So what did I do? I grabbed my laptop..started my first online class of the year and promptly popped a chocolate lava cake into the microwave. I then proceeded to smother it in whipped cream and devoured the whole thing...with my favorite spoon (it has a squared off tip with dainty flowers engraved in its bowl and it makes everything prettier when you eat with it).  


The thing is, I didn’t feel like I had treated myself..I felt disgusting when I was I had dropped a chocolate brick into my body.  


After my tummy settled, I decided I would draw a bath for myself...a luxury I don’t often make time for.  I lit candles, used a fizzy pink bath bomb and grabbed an inspirational book. I created a beautiful melody on my Relax Melodies app (this app offers a myriad of sounds and you simply combine them to create your own tune)...a symphony of birds chirping...Eternity (whatever that evokes) and Immersed (kind of a gentle water sound).  All I could think was how this whole experience nourished my soul...and the 2019 word was born...NOURISH!


I decided that before I eat anything I will determine if it will NOURISH my body.  I will make more time for church to NOURISH my soul. I will make time to take care of myself - manis and pedis, massages, more baths... to NOURISH my spirit.  I will create more artwork to NOURISH my creative side. I will take more long walks and practice yoga to NOURISH my well being. I will read more to NOURISH my intellect.  


I hope that my new blog nourishes you and perhaps inspires you to find your word...your thing...your mojo for the year.  






Monday, March 27, 2017
By April Graves
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I remember photographing my first session for  angel portraits like it was yesterday….the year was 2006 and I had just approached the WINGS organization with the concept of creating a calendar for of angels, aviators and fairies...we would call it Beautiful Things with Wings.  After having received the go was time for me to photograph some test images to market with.  My model for my angel portraits was of course my daughter Alyssa.  She was a petite 6 year old at the time.  I carefully set up my backdrop and lighting in my the living room of my house...that was where all of my sessions were photographed back then.  I had to climb up on the red couch along the long wall of the room and began our session.  I remember the way her dark thick lashes rested on her cheek...her sweet little rosebud lips...the magic of photographing my little girl as an angel…

When from the front door we heard the emphatic knocking of my 4 year old son banging on the side windows...He was pounding with both fists... chanting…”I want to wear the wings!”  We decided to open the door and let him in...I quickly took of his t-shirt and strapped my angel wings onto his bare back.  We tossed a gold halo onto his head and the rest is history.  Perhaps one of the sweetest angel portraits I have ever created...alas...I have been sworn to not share the images from his break in you won’t see them here...but when the day comes that he gets bet those portraits will make it into his wedding slide show!  

We have come a long way since those fledgling years of photographing in my living room.  For the past 7 years, I have been blessed to be able to photograph our angel portraits on the Eden de Palais at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills.  Being the only photographer in the world allowed to create portraits on that amazing carousel has been such a gift to both myself and WINGS as well as the children who are able to take part in this experience.  

Over the past 10 plus years, we have been able to help raise over $300,000 for the women and children who use the services and shelters of the WINGS organization as a refuge from domestic violence! 

If you want to get involved with this project, we will be photographing our sweet angel portraits this coming April 11-14. Please call 224-655-7801 or contact us and join us in supporting women and children in need!