[b]ecker's blog http://blog.thebecker.com/ the becker photography blog en-us Happy Mother's Day http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1141/Happy-Mothers-Day http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1141/Happy-Mothers-Day Sun, 08 May 2016 09:41:00 GMT
I want to start this post by wishing a special day to my mom... who I miss very much now that I live almost 2,000 miles away. I have been blessed to have a very close & special relationship with my mom and I am so appreciative for all that she did for my sister and I growing up.

She is the glue that holds our family together and I am so thankful for the example that she set for me to be a loving parent. Her prayers and support have always been felt and and even though I don't say it enough... thank you so much for everything!

Happy Mother's Day mom! I love you and can't wait to see you in 10 days!

(photo by Parker J. Pfister)

This year, however... I do have a completely new perspective on Mother's Day as I've had a front row seat to watch Ashley become a mom... and let me tell you... it has been a thing of beauty!

I'm not saying this to brag, or to brown-nose, but I honestly think Ashley deserves the "Mom of the Year" award for the 2015/2016 season.

Even before Audrey came along at the end of May last year... Ashley took such good care of her health during her pregnancy. Daily pre-natal vitamins, clean healthy eating, yoga, meditation, etc...

She read so many books on parenting, nutrition for newborns, and spent countless hours prepping the nursery and making sure the baby had a fabulous wardrobe! (no joke, my daughter has more articles of clothing than I do.)

Then on the evening of May 26th... her water broke in the Whole Foods parking lot and we headed to the hospital.

I'll never forget that night as long as I live. Ashley was so strong, and so brave, and the next day we were blessed with a healthy baby girl!

This last year has been filled with firsts for us and we both grow more and more in love with our Audrey every single day.

Audrey is such a sweet and happy baby and I have no doubt it is because of her mother's influence. My prayer is that Audrey grows up to be "kind and confident", just like her momma. Those two share such a special bond and they both are so excited to be in each others presence.

Ashley seems to have endless patience with Audrey (and thankfully with me too). Never complains when she has to get up to feed her or comfort her. She has really taken to motherhood and it looks so good on her!

She does the whole cloth diapering thing... makes Audrey fresh, healthy food every day (none of that processed crap for our little girl). She sings with her, laughs with her and reads to her non stop. All while continuing to run her successful photography business! She really is a super mom and Audrey and I are both so lucky to have her.

We took a million photos this past year and here are some of my favorites:

Just moments after she was born (the cord was still attached at this point):

(photo by Aunt Alicea)

First nap together on Audrey's birthday:

In our backyard when she was about a week old:

Baby's first trip to California (3 months):

Our backyard in the fall (6 months):

New Years Day in California (7 months) photo by Rich Lander:

Our wedding day (10 months) - photo by Parker J. Pfister:

Another favorite from our wedding day (taken with my iPhone):

Lastly... check out Audrey's BirthStory on Ashley's new website:

Newport Beach Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1139/Newport-Beach-Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1139/Newport-Beach-Wedding Fri, 08 Jan 2016 16:23:00 GMT
It was also a very special wedding for me personally as I kicked off my 20th year as a professional wedding photographer! I still feel so blessed to be able to do something I love for a living and I am excited for each and every wedding I have booked this year and I am looking forward to trekking on for several more years!

It was a picture perfect Southern California day and everyone got ready at the Pacific Club before heading to Our Lady Queen of Angels for the ceremony. Then it was back to the Pacific Club for an intimate reception. The bride was absolutely stunning... the groom cleaned up nicely and it was one of the friendliest wedding parties I've encountered in a while.

Here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments:

Talk about Guaranteed Gorgeous!

You should get a case for that iPhone ma'am... AND LEAVE THE PICTURES TO ME!!!! ;-)

This was my first time shooting at the new Our Lady Queen of Angels. They built a brand new sanctuary on the same property and the dozed the old one.

Someone tried to put the ring on the wrong finger.

I had mad respect for this guys selfie game!

If you know anyone who got engaged over the holidays... I'd love to chat with them about their plans. Thanks so much for your continued referrals!

Five Years of Fitness http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1138/before-after http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1138/before-after Fri, 18 Dec 2015 09:56:00 GMT
I weighed in at 285 pounds on December 18th, 2010 and I knew I was on a collision course with diabetes and heart disease.

I simply decided that enough was enough and I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes in order to save my own life.

So yeah... I started a diet the week before Christmas. I figured if I could do it that week of all weeks, I could do it any time.

I lost 70 pounds in the first year!

For the most part, I kept most of the weight off for the next couple of years, then eventually over the last year or so, slowly started reverting back to some old bad habits. In April of this year, I realized I had gained back over half of the weight I originally lost.

I was bummed and it was time to rededicate myself to the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

In May, I switched from a low carb Paleo style diet, to a low carb, high fat (LCHF) Keto lifestyle that I learned about from a book called "Eat Bacon, Don't Jog".

The results have been nothing short of life changing!

Here are some of my measurements since starting the LCHF lifestyle:

May 12, 2015

Neck: 17"
Chest: 45"
Waist: 42"
Stomach: 43.5"
Arms: 15"
Thighs: 24"

December 18, 2015

Neck: 15.75"
Chest: 43"
Waist: 37.5"
Stomach: 38.75
Arms: 15"
Thighs: 22.5"

That's over 14" lost!!!

Since Easter, I am down 54 pounds and down 88 pounds from my high in 2010!

This past summer, I found my original "before photo". I noticed it was taken on December 18th, 2010, they day I decided I seriously needed to lose some weight.

I wanted to challenge myself to get into the best shape of my life, so I came up with the idea of a 100 day challenge. I have done the Whole 30 a couple of times, the 21 day sugar fix, but I really wanted to make a commitment to a long term lifestyle change and not just a quick fix diet.

I counted backwards 100 days from December 18th so that the challenge would end on the 5 year anniversary of my decision to start taking my health and fitness seriously. To motivate myself, I told people I was going to post a shirtless photo at the end of it.

That day is today, so here is my before and after photo taken exactly 5 years apart:

I'm 37 in the photo on the left and 42 in the one on the right, though it probably looks the other way around.

I still don't have the 6 pack that I desire, but it's coming! I am 100% committed to continuing to eat a low carb, high fat diet (after a couple of treats and a cheat day or two over the holidays). Also, since I have no problems sticking to this way of eating, I am totally committed to stepping up my workout game in 2016.

About the Lazy Man's Challenge:

At first, I was just going to do the challenge for myself, but then a few friends suggested that I invite others to do it with me and I am so glad they did.

I came up with some guidelines and invited people to join in. 55 people signed up. Not everyone completed it, 100 days is no joke and it requires some serious commitment. As a group we lost almost 1,000 pounds. Over half of the people lost at least 7% of their body weight and over a quarter of the people lost over 10%.

One guy lost 51 pounds, another dropped 47. Two women lost over 30 pounds. 17 people lost more than 20 pounds and almost everyone who stuck with it lost at least 10 pounds.

There is something powerful about having a financial stake, some social pressure, and having group motivation to reach your goals.

I am hosting another Lazy Man's Challenge starting January 7th.

If you'd like a fighting chance to stick to you weight loss resolution this time... I invited you to join us!

Click the photo below to see the Facebook event page for the next Lazy Man's Challenge. I'll be posting some more before and after photos and testimonials from the people who took part in the first challenge in the coming days.

My new website has arrived! http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1137/My-new-website-has-arrived http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1137/My-new-website-has-arrived Mon, 30 Nov 2015 17:03:00 GMT my brand spanking new website!

Ever since ditching my Flash based website a couple years ago, I have bounced around trying a few different platforms to host my site. I wasn't in love with any of them, so I'd try something for a few months or so, and then when I wasn't satisfied, I'd try again.

I finally found a solution that I really like and I am hoping this one will stick around for a while. I went with SquareSpace and I love how simple and clean the site is, how nothing takes away from the images and how easy it is to use!

The number one goal of my website is to get qualified prospects to contact me. I just want a chance to connect with engaged couples that are looking for outstanding photography. I put a contact form on every single page of the site, hoping that couples will at least inquire about my services so that I can send them a copy of my eBook "The [ b ] Experience". (photographers, you can get your copy here)

Of course the site showcases the Relaxed Portraits & Real Moments that I am known for capturing, but I also have a section for St. Louis weddings, Destination Weddings, and a Real Weddings page.

If you hear of anyone getting engaged over the holidays, please send them on over to thebecker.com!!!! Thanks!

Wedding at Washington University http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1135/Wedding-at-Washington-University http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1135/Wedding-at-Washington-University Tue, 20 Oct 2015 12:51:00 GMT Graham Chapel on the grounds of Washington University. It was an intimate affair for a very sweet couple. It was also my first fall wedding in St. Louis and I loved shooting in Forest Park with all of the colorful trees.

Here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments:

The bride got ready at the Ritz Carlton.

The first look:

We headed off to Forest Park for some portraits amongst the Fall foliage:

The groom actually works for the university so maybe he can use this on his ID badge?:

I loved the look her dad was giving her as he gave her away.

The reception took place at the Whittemore House, also on the campus of Wash U.

St. Louis Engagement Photos http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1134/St-Louis-Engagement-Photos http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1134/St-Louis-Engagement-Photos Tue, 29 Sep 2015 16:03:00 GMT
These two are getting married in St. Louis next Summer and were the first ones to officially book me for a 2016 wedding (my 20th season as a wedding photographer).

We shot their engagement photos in Lafayette Square park on Sunday. They were absolutely adorable together! They even brought their little yellow umbrella as an homage to "How I Met Your Mother" (I love that show!).

Here are just a few of my favorites, although it was so hard to choose!

New York City Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1133/New-York-City-Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1133/New-York-City-Wedding Thu, 17 Sep 2015 17:05:00 GMT website.

So when the groom's youngest sister from that wedding called me last summer, I was honored to be asked to document another Kloots family wedding!

That wedding took place at the end of August at the Park Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

It truly was a magical wedding. Literally! You see, the groom, Joshua Jay, is a professional magician and he's fantastic!

Here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments. (Feel free to pin and/or share these images on social media as long as you: 1- don't crop or alter the image in any way and 2- provide a photo credit to @thebecker and/or link back to thebecker.com).

Of course the bride had champagne named after her:

This dress was incredible! It's a Hayley Paige.

I could have shot portraits of the girl all day!

The groom cleaned up quite nicely as well!

The Ketubah signing:

Great speech by the best man! I love these moments!

The custom ice cream bar was a nice touch!

St. Louis Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1132/St-Louis-Wedding http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1132/St-Louis-Wedding Thu, 10 Sep 2015 18:00:00 GMT St. Ambrose Catholic Church on the Hill, and the reception was at the newly renamed Clayton Plaza Hotel. We had some time to kill between the ceremony and the reception, so we took portraits in Forest Park, across the river looking back at the Arch, and at Washington University.

Here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments:

I love this shot of the bride and her sisters a.k.a. future clients in their parents bed! ;-)

Lazy Man's Challenge http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1131/Lazy-Mans-Challenge http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1131/Lazy-Mans-Challenge Sun, 23 Aug 2015 00:48:00 GMT Nutrition is a controversial topic.

Like politics and religion... it's based on our own personal belief system and it's up to everyone to decide for themselves what is right & wrong.

Also, the "science" of nutrition seems to change every couple of years and no one can seem to agree on the best course of action to lose weight, get fit, stay healthy, prevent disease, etc...

Whether it's political agendas, government subsidies, large corporations funding studies, an activist groups producing documentaries...

There is a shit-ton of conflicting information out there and it's very confusing!

Here's what I know to be true:

  • I grew up as a fat kid, and I struggled with my weight most of my adult life.

  • Diets suck. I've tried so many of them over the years with various levels of success, but no matter what... the pounds always returned.

  • To make a true and lasting change... YOU REALLY HAVE TO WANT IT!

  • To make a true and lasting change... You need to change your lifestyle, not just your diet.

So... a few years back, I was almost 300 pounds and I knew it was time to make a change. I dropped 70 pounds in a year, and kept most of it off for the next couple of years. I truly did change my lifestyle and I felt so much better.

Over the last year or so, I got a little lazy and started slipping back into some old habits and ended up gaining more than half of the weight back!! :-(

But this past Easter, I rededicated myself to leading a fit and healthy lifestyle and I am now down 75 pounds from my original weight (down 41 pounds since Easter)

Here's what I now also know:

  • Living the "Keto Lifestyle" is the easiest way to lose weight.

  • You don't have to workout for an hour or more every day to get in shape.

  • In order to stick with any diet or fitness plan, it must be sustainable long term, otherwise you'll give up.

  • You don't have to eat gross food, juice anything, or starve yourself to lose weight.

  • Cutting sugar, grains & bad carbs out of your diet might be hard at first, but once you become Keto-adapted... it's not a big deal at all.

  • Nothing tastes as good as being fit feels!

My goal is to ultimately lose 100 pounds, and get six pack abs that I never thought would be possible...

So starting September 10, 2015 (just over two weeks from now), I am going to be starting my:

I call it an "experimental challenge" because I am not 100% convinced it will work. I am 98.7% convinced it will, and I like those odds so I am going to go for it!

Also, I am doing this challenge for ME!

I am doing to it prove to myself, that I can do anything I set my mind to.

The thought of losing 100 pounds when I looked like this seemed impossible:

I am also going to do this challenge whether anyone joins me or not, but if you'd also like to get into the best shape of your life... I invite you to join me!

Watch this 7 minute video, listen to my story, and see why I am confident that I will hit my goals over this 100 day challenge:

(so far, about 9 people are in with many more that have said they'd be joining, but just haven't signed up yet

You can read more about the actual challenge and learn how to sign up at BeckerGetsFit.com/100

FYI, don't wait until the last minute because you'll want to get into the Facebook Groups so you can get the grocery list and meal plans in advance so you're ready to go on September 10th.

The photo on the left was taken in August of 2009, the one on the right, August 1st of this year:

They say the definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So if you aren't happy with were you are weight wise, perhaps its time to take control and do something about it! Join me!

Wedding at The Peninsula Chicago http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1130/Wedding-at-The-Peninsula-Chicago http://blog.thebecker.com/index.cfm/postID/1130/Wedding-at-The-Peninsula-Chicago Tue, 21 Jul 2015 15:13:00 GMT
When the bride originally contacted me, she warned me that this wasn't going to be one of my typical weddings. They've both been married before, they each had 3 grown children of their own, and they just wanted someone to document the coming together of these two families. It truly was a celebration and I was honored to be a part of it.

The ceremony took place at Saint James Chapel and the reception was held at The Peninsula Chicago.

Here are a few of my favorite relaxed portraits, amazing details and real moments:

These gorgeous bridesmaids bracelets were from Left Bank Jewelry:

It's about time!:

The ceremony took place at Quigley Chapel at St. James:

Her son walked her down the aisle.

One big happy family:

The church was only a few blocks from the hotel, so we just walked along Michigan Avenue and took some photos along the way.

One of the bride's sons is serving in Afghanistan and was unable to make it, so they flew the flag in his honor: