Modern Meets Vintage Intimate Wedding | Brittany + Forrest

Modern Meets Vintage Intimate Wedding | Brittany + Forrest

Have you ever stood in a place so filled with love you could feel it pouring off of everyone?

It's warm, happy, and cozy. Time slows down while simultaneously flying right by. 

And no, it wasn't the Texas heat making me loopy. Brittany and Forrest got married on an uncharacteristically rainy, sometimes chilly, sometimes humid summer day.  We had to call on our photo location back-up plans a few times but that couldn't put a damper on the love. It was everywhere. 

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Like That: Good Times with Makeup

Bright blue eyeshadow, bold red lipstick – this was the first makeup combo I ever wore. 

It wasn't by choice, but I didn't necessarily mind it either. In fact, I probably thought I made it look good. When you grow up studying dance and eventually theatre too, it means a few weeks or weekends of the year you go into performance mode and wear whatever makeup was assigned you.

Because of this, I never was one of those kids who runs to play in someone else's makeup when no one was looking. I never argued with my mom about when I could start wearing it or how much was too much. (Stage makeup is always too much makeup – at least for everyday wear.) 

When I started wearing makeup off-stage, I tried various brands before eventually being introduced to the Jane Iredale makeup line by my mother. It's hypoallergenic. It's dermatologist-tested. And in some ways (like sunscreen), it actually benefits your skin.

Jane Iredale makeup, photographed by Kristin Serna

Since I already like the company's mission I wouldn't mind if someone was paying me to say all this, but alas, no one is. After so many years of feeling like I was applying thick coating to my face, this brand's products help me feel comfortable (and sometimes even excited) about wearing makeup.

Recently Jane Iredale came out with something new – Mystikol® Powered Eyeliner. Touted as a powder and a cream, it intrigued me. I've tried powder eyeliner and cream ones and they both have their applications, but hello, potential multi-functionality.

Mineral Makeup from Jane Iredale, featuring Mystikol Eyeliner, photo by Kristin Serna

They have one in amethyst so that made choosing a shade to try preeeetty easy.


I like it. I like it a lot.

First of all, did you see the built in brush? It may not be 007 gadget-level, but it's still darn convenient. Once I figured out how much product I needed to get on the brush, it became really easy to use too. It has staying power and doesn't creep around my eyes as the day goes on. The color isn't too bright and I found it much simpler to fix any mistakes than you would with most cream, gel, or liquid eyeliners. The consistency's versatility means I can do a smoky eye or a thick or thin sharp line all with one product too.

Jane Iredale Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner, photographed by Kristin Serna

I'm looking forward to when some of my other eyeliners run out so I have even more reason to check out the other three colors.

Wondering what else this brand has to offer in Makeupland? Check out the Jane Iredale website

You're welcome. ;) 

©2017 Kristin Serna. These words and photos are mine. Please do not republish without my permission.

Limited Edition Chicago Photo Prints

Figuring out the best place to sell my travel and nature photography prints is easier said than done. So I'm in a trial phase. Right now I have a pop-up shop on Etsy – or rather, I guess  a digital pop-up since pop-ups are usually brick-and-mortar retail locations. Either way I thought I'd give the concept usually reserved for fashion a go.

In case you're unfamiliar with the idea – basically these photos I put on Etsy will be centered around some theme and only be offered for a limited time. Once the month is up, they either won't return for a season, a year, or possibly they won't return at all. 

All the prints in my pop-up are printed by a professional lab on archival quality paper (a.k.a. they are niiiiiice). Shipping happens in a flat in a photo mailer (unless otherwise stated).

Chicago Prints

Chicago Print by Kristin

The current limited-time collection is four prints all taken in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. They're all 8"x10" black-and-white prints too.

I love black-and-white because it really allows you to focus on the shapes and layers in the image.

The extra kicker though? There's only one of each print available.

Go check them out. They'll be up on Etsy until March 7, 2017 unless someone buys them before then.

(Someone go buy them before then.) 

Where do you go to buy photo art for your home or workplace? Let me know in the comments. 

Chicagoland Engagement Session | Cheryl & Phil

These two love spending time outside no matter the season. Walks, snowmobiling, fishing, cycling, boating, off-roading, motorcycle riding – they're pretty much up for anything. So before the last leaves fell off the trees we had a photo session outdoors incorporating some of the ways they love to spend time with each other.  

Chicagoland Engagement Photography by Kristin Serna
Chicagoland Couple Portrait by Kristin Serna
Lifestyle Couple Portrait by Kristin Serna
Couple Portrait Photography by Kristin Serna
Chicago Lifestyle Photographer Kristin Serna

Now one of these two lovely people was not all that jazzed about being photographed before we started. Kinda hard to tell, huh? I get it though. That's why I have my methods for making a session smooth-sailing. 

Chicago Engagement Photographer Kristin Serna
Couple Lifestyle Photography by Kristin Serna

Thank you two for asking me to be your photographer. Thanks for hanging out with me in some beautiful light. But mostly – thank you for being yourselves. 

©2017 Kristin Serna. These words and photos are mine. Please do not republish without my permission.

Wedding Dress Color Inspiration

We all know about the tradition of brides wearing white. It’s said that before 1840 brides used to wear colors and their dress was often one they would wear again and again. 

Queen Victoria, in her 1840 wedding dress and veil, painted in 1847 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter as an anniversary gift for her husband, Prince Albert. 

Queen Victoria, in her 1840 wedding dress and veil, painted in 1847 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter as an anniversary gift for her husband, Prince Albert. 

What happened in 1840? Queen Victoria got married. She wore white. Suddenly it was the trend. 

It’s not 1840 anymore. And I’m pretty sure Queen Victoria won’t come back to yell at you for doing what feels right for you. White was an uncommon color to choose for a wedding dress when she chose it, but she didn't care. 

There are cultural practices that can call for something beyond white too. Tradition doesn’t have to apply to what you wear though. Your wedding day is a celebration of you and the one you love. You should be comfortable. You should feel beautiful. You should feel free to show your own sense of style.

Of course off-white, antique white, eggshell, and champagne have been around as dress options for a while. They’re close to the color white but a little different. Some people will not even be able to tell the difference.

Below you’ll find some other colors to consider if you want to branch out even further. These can go with bridesmaid dresses in a darker tone or a complimentary color. As a bonus, these colors can photograph well with suits that are black, gray, or navy.


Often associated as being romantic and feminine, a soft pink can be a touch of color that brings a bit of warmth to your look. In general you can usually easily find a soft pink that looks good with your skin tone. 

1. Needle & Thread Adona Dress  

2. Chi Chi London Boundless Fascination Lace Dress 

3. Tadashi Shoji Odette Dress (BHLDN exclusive color) 

Blush, Rose, Soft Pink Wedding Dress Inspiration
Gold Wedding Dress Inspiration


Gold is regal. It can look ethereal or down-right fancy depending on the fabric/finish/texture you choose. 

1. Adrianna Papell Chevron Beaded Blouson Gown 

2. Aidan Mattox Sleeveless V-Neck Gown 

3. Adrianna Papell Beaded Blouson Gown with Sheer Neckline and Keyhole Back  


Maybe gold isn’t your style. A bit more on the trendy side currently, rose gold can combine the aforementioned soft pink and gold. Bronze or copper is another warm option. It’s a little more difficult to pair with a gray suit but copper looks great with brunette hair. If you favor cool tones, try silver.  

1. Adrianna Papell Sleeveless Chevron Beaded Gown with Godet Skirt 

2. Halston Heritage Metallic Jacquard Fit & Flare Dress 

3. Jenny Yoo 'Jules' Sequin Blouson Gown with Detachable Back Cowl

Silver and Copper Wedding Dress Inspiration
Ombre Wedding Dress Idea


Here’s a way to combine white with a color. A gradual change from either the top or the bottom along with a bit of texture can make for something that looks sophisticated and modern.

1. Pamella Roland Ombre Sequined Half-Sleeve Ball Gown, Iris/White 

2. Needle & Thread Cate Gown 

Ombre Wedding Dress Inspiration
Floral Wedding Dress Ideas


Opt for a simple bouquet (or none at all) and wear the flowers on your wedding dress. You can go with a subtle or bold design with a localized or an all-over print. 

1. Alfred Sung Watercolor Floral Print Sleeveless Sateen A-Line Gown 

2. Jenny Yoo Inesse Dress 

3. Adrianna Papell Floral Beaded Godet Gown 

Floral-Patterned Wedding Dress Idea

Follow Queen Victoria’s lead if you’d like, but remember – it’s not the only option. Choosing a wedding dress with some color could even lead you to a dress you'll wear again for an anniversary, party, fancy dinner, vow renewal or gala. And whether you wear it ten times or just once, you'll know when you put it on you're celebrating in a gown that makes you feel like your best you. 

Which idea is your favorite?

Indoors vs Outdoors: The Photo Location Showdown

Trees. Grass. Sidewalks. Buildings. Outdoors has a lot going on. 
Couches. Your decorating style. The flowers sitting on your kitchen table. An at-home or indoor session definitely has things going for it too. 

But as I shared in “Choosing a Location for Your Photo Session”, the visuals in the background shouldn’t be your prime reason for choosing a spot. 

Here are some factors that make outdoor photo sessions great: 

Outdoor Portrait Session by Lifestyle Photographer, Kristin Serna

You know that time not too long after the sun has come up or in the evening before sunset where the way the light touches everything makes it all look so warm? That’s Golden Hour. It’s one of the times I recommend for sessions and it’s best taken advantage of outdoors. That being said, there’s also magical light created by a cloudy day. 

Outdoor Portrait Session by Kristin Serna, Lifestyle Photographer

Ahhhh. A nice dose of fresh air can be so invigorating.  

Outdoor locations usually have plenty of space to move through. Running, skipping, twirling about – all good to go outdoors. 

We can’t control the weather, but sometimes that works in our favor. A sudden gust of wind can change things up, beautifully blowing your hair away from your face or blowing it into your face and making you laugh. 

The park you picnic in every once in a while, the citywalk from a date night, the beach you visit at least once every summer – these are places that might not be part of your everyday but they still have meaning to you. 

Benefits of indoor sessions include:

At-Home Portrait Session by Kristin Serna, Lifestyle Photographer

There’s several technical reasons why window light can be beautiful. It can be soft or dramatic and it usually doesn’t shine directly into your eyes the way direct sunlight can.  All we need is at least one window (big is especially beneficial) getting a fair amount of light and we’re set. 

At-Home Couples Portrait Session by Kristin Serna, Lifestyle Photographer

Inside temperatures remain rather steady and if you’re at home you can even set it yourself. Is it raining or snowing? That’s ok. Precipitation doesn’t have much of an effect on an indoor session. 

There are usually less distractions at home than out in public. That can mean it’s easier to concentrate on the people you’re being photographed with. Your session can be as tranquil or as exuberant as you want to make it without outside influence. 

At-home sessions tend to make for a quieter environment without chance of an audience. Hello, super comfy photo session. 

It’s easy to do activities indoors during your session that are a part of your everyday life – cooking together, playing a game, reading, or even hanging out on the couch.  

So which is better? Indoor or outdoor? The truth is there are some really nice benefits to both types of photo session locations. 

There’s still a few weeks to choose whether your session is indoors or outdoors before we move to indoor-only mode for the winter. Head on over to the contact page to start planning your lifestyle portrait session. 

©2016 Kristin Serna. These words and photos are mine. Please do not republish without my permission.

Why I Keep Posing to an Absolute Minimum

Standing in front of a room full of photographers, I turned 3/4s, arched my back, drew one foot close to the other, popped a foot, bent my elbow, brought my fingers close together, placed my hand near my natural waist and made sure not to squeeze, swung my elbow out, put my weight on one foot, leaned, and turned my head towards the camera. 

“Bring your chin down,” said a photographer from the workshop. “Turn your head more to the right…. more….” It was a lot to process. I had to be reminded to smile. 

I’d listened intently to the lecturer, taken notes, watched him go through the process of posing a model, and directed a model posing too. It all seemed straightforward enough. 

But when it was my turn to pose… well it didn’t quite feel that way anymore. 

I vacillated between feeling like “Yes! I’ve got this!” and “Wait, am I doing this right?” The longer I had to hold the pose for more direction and more photos, the more physically uncomfortable I started getting too. And suddenly I thought if I – someone who is pretty darn comfortable being in front of a camera, someone who has a dance background and is very aware of posture and fine muscle control – if I’m feeling uncomfortable and unsure about myself, then how would most other people feel? 

Because the thing is, unless you’re a very good actor and you’re totally applying your very good acting skills at that moment, if you’re not comfortable, it shows up in your eyes. You can be smiling with your mouth and shouting “I am very unsure about this!” out your eyeballs. And when you look at the resulting photo, not everyone will be able to put their finger on it exactly, but many people will be able to tell something is off. Especially you. 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized in the photo classes I’d taken in college and in the years after, my photos of people that had been given the most praise by professors and students alike – those were photos where people were being themselves. They were photos where I’d given minimal direction if any at all. 

There is a time and a place for posing. There are professional models who’ve had a lot of practice at it and can pull it off rather effortlessly. But I don’t believe you need to have professional modeling experience to have beautiful photos of yourself. 

And I’m not sorry that I attended posing workshops or watched videos on it or read books about posing. It was not a waste of my time. Because I’ve picked up a lot and I can give you little tips here and there. I will tell you to lower your chin if you have a tendency to raise it. I can give you guidance on what to do with your hands if you need it. Since during a photo session I’m usually moving around I can move in a way that makes you turn your head in a flattering direction without you even realizing that’s what happening.  The angles you present to the camera don't have to be entirely up to you. 

The other day I posted a photo on Instagram with the caption:

This is what I mean by just do your thing and I'll find the beauty. This photo is 0% posed. I see the elegance in a glance over your shoulder. I see your hair lovingly styled, your accessories placed just so. I see your anticipation of getting to see the one you love. And I'm here to capture it so you can see it too.
Non-posed bridal portrait by Kristin Serna

While that's a bridal example, it's the same for solo portraits, couples, and families. I may ask you to lean against something a little or hold hands or walk towards me.

I will not ask you to make your body into the shape of a letter of the alphabet. I will not leave you hanging and feeling like you're about to loose your balance. At no point during a session with me should you feel like maybe the human body wasn't meant to bend that way.

You are already beautiful. You already have a certain comfort level simply by being you. I'll be there to give that little bit of guidance that comes from being able to see the whole picture and from all those posing techniques I've distilled.  Together, we've got this. 

And this was the image. We made sure the bride was getting ready not too far from a window that was letting in some lovely light.

That's it.

One of her bridesmaids had just secured her veil; she glanced over her shoulder and there was moment. 

I could have asked her to look over her shoulder. I'm happy to introduce ideas for movement if need be. 

But this particular movement is all her. That grace is innate. She was fully present in that moment. It's possible she didn't even hear the shutter click.  And I like that even better than if I'd asked her to look over her shoulder. 

Minimally-posed portrait by Kristin Serna

©2016 Kristin Serna These are my words and my photos. This post should not be republished without my permission. Cheers.