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  • Welcome--feel free to grab your coffee and hang out for a while. You'll get to see what goes on in front of my camera and behind the scenes here at Simply Life Photography.

    Whether it is newborns, children, seniors, families, or weddings -- I love capturing the lives of my clients in the greater Grand Rapids area, all along the West Michigan lakeshore, and across Michigan. Please contact me at the studio via phone (616.212.8800) or through the contact link above with any questions you may have or to schedule your session. Thanks for visiting!  ~ Mary Beth

Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Wedding Photography at Westin Chicago River North by simplylifephotography.comI’m so excited to show you this wedding – lovely and elegant every step of the way. Stay with me through this sure-to-be-very-long post – from the Westin Chicago River North Hotel to the Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, IL to the Chicago Riverwalk, to the gorgeous Galleria Marchetti. There were so many amazing people, stunning locations, and beautiful moments that I truly wish I could include every. single. thing.

The morning of the wedding gave us a little scare and definitely did not look like the photo above. Nope. It was raining cats and dogs. Not even sure why I bothered with hair and makeup as we were drenched just jumping into our Uber ride to the first venue. Let’s just say that many many prayers were sent heavenward that morning for clear skies! And bless it – blue sky and sunshine broke through about fifteen minutes before we started documenting the preparation at the Westin.

River North Hotel wedding by Westin Chicago River North guest room wedding photography by Westin River North wedding photographs by simplylifephotography.comThe area right outside the Westin Chicago River North Hotel was perfect for a few photos with all the girls before we hopped on a trolley to the church. And by the way – how gorgeous is Emilee?! I photographed her sister’s wedding about seven years ago and the minute Emilee contacted me I remembered her beautiful blond hair. Total hair envy.

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Urban Chicago wedding photography by

Chicago river north wedding photos by

I adore this photo below of Emilee with her two sisters. It is evident these three share a very special bond. Plus – when your sisters pitch in to hold a reflector up for a wind screen while in dress & heels – you know they love you!

Westin Chicago River North wedding

River North Chicago IL wedding by

Time for a trolley ride over to the church. I’ve photographed weddings in some pretty incredible locations and this one was the most beautiful church I’ve been in, hands down. Truly stunning.

Chicago Catholic wedding photography by

Chicago wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Chicago, IL Wedding

Grand Rapids MI wedding photographer,

Michigan wedding photographer,

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography

The moment a newly married couple walks down the isle and out the door is one of my favorites to capture. Congratulations Matt & Emilee!

West Michigan wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

Wedding Photographer, Grand Rapids, MI, Chicago IL

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

What wonderful family and friends these two are blessed with!, modern Chicago wedding photographer

Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park IL wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Back on the trolley – time for some fun photos in the city! Oh – and Mr. Best Man (aka the Groom’s brother) – your photo bombing skills are quite impressive. ::snicker:: 😉

Chicago and Grand Rapids MI wedding photographer,

By this time I’m thinking how bummed I am that I left my fitbit at home. Photographing a gorgeous wedding party downtown Chicago while getting a million steps in? #winning

wedding photography by

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by Simply Life Photography,

Chicago Wedding River North, Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk Bride and Groom Photos
wedding photography by Grand Rapids MI photographer Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

And we are off to the reception at the Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL. When a bride and groom combines a unique and beautiful venue like this one with incredible family & friends – they definitely have a night to remember.

wedding reception photographs by Simply Life Photography

You can never have too many photographs with your family and friends!

family and wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Galleria Marchetti Wedding, Chicago IL,

I have to give a shout out to my amazing friend and secondary photographer – Julie. Along with being a full-time 3rd grade teacher, she is my right hand at weddings and can seriously read. my. mind. (A pretty much impossible task – just ask my husband!) While I was in the reception tent capturing all the details, she surprised me by photographing these adorable kiddos. Maybe it is because we each have four children – but we definitely both have a soft spot for these little ones at weddings. Love!
Galleria Marchetti Wedding, Chicago IL,

Grand Rapids MI, Chicago IL children

Wedding Photography, Chicago IL, gold coast

Time for some dinner and lots of DANCING!

wedding detail shots, flowers by Simply Life Photography

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

wedding photography by

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Grand Rapids wedding photographer, Chicago IL wedding

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

The father daughter dance was a surprise. As Emilee danced with her dad, other significant men in her life took turns cutting in. How sweet!

father daughter wedding dance, Galleria Marchetti

Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Seven years since their wedding and still as sweet a couple as ever. Nick & Monica – it was so nice to see you again and your little girl is precious!

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

If your new wife looked like Emilee – you’d hold her waist tush like that too – just sayin’. So cute.

wedding photographs at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

And I’ll give you all one guess what song this dance is to. If you haven’t been to a wedding in a while, (especially one where the Jr. Bridesmaid and flower girls beg the DJ) ask a friend.

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Matt & Emilee – Thank you so much for choosing us to photograph your wedding. We loved spending the day with you!

~ Mary Beth and Julie












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It seems like no time at all passed between Miss W’s newborn session, her six month session and this one year session! She just gets more adorable every time I see her – as does her big sister.

One year sessions can be the best ever or send you (and the parents) searching for the Excedrin. Maybe I should offer a complimentary bottle of wine to the parents as a session parting gift.

Just keeping it real. 😉

One-year-old little cuties are FAST and often more interested in anything other than me and my camera. I still cannot help LOVING this age – their happiness to show off their newly learned skills like the drunken sailor walk, the plop & grin and the run & hide. Yes, those are the official terms (in my head). And of course, capturing every single part of being one is what I love the most – and Miss W does one in fabulous style.

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  • ELINA - Hi, I came across you blog/portfolio today as I was looking for wedding inspiration. Love the cuties in this post! i am just starting out as a photographer and when reading the ABOUT, I see we have a few things in common, like being moms of four! I also love to catch the silly and real, not just the nicely posed. My blog is called Life in Z (Z for zambia where I live).

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After a little more than 10 years of being a photographer, it isn’t often anymore that I get to experience a ‘first’.  However, this is the first time I have photographed all four beautiful newborn babies in one family and I truly feel so blessed they gave me this opportunity–and trusted me with the great responsibility of capturing this fleeting time–once again with pumpkin #4.  So, I thought this post deserved digging deep in the archives (old-school backups–climbing and dusting were involved!) and indulging in a trip down memory lane. Enjoy all the sweetness–this family has it in spades.

Rockford, Grand Rapids, and West Michigan Newborn Photographer

Family and Newborn Photographer in Grand Rapids, Rockford MI

Quality and Experienced Photographer in Grand Rapids, MI

Beautiful Grand Rapids Newborn Baby Photography

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This was the first downtown session I’ve done in a while.  It seems like I’ve been at the beach with my camera all summer.  While we do have the most gorgeous beaches here in Michgan for summer sessions – it was fun to shake the sand off and do a downtown session for a change!

One of my favorite things about photographing children is seeing how they have grown since my last session with them.  See this blog post for a trip down memory lane…  Awwww – right?

Due to the crazy heat this summer, we had to meet bright and early for our little urban adventure… aren’t they cute little troopers?!

Grand Rapids Michigan Children




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Kicking off the new year with a unique creative challenge!  I am once again privileged to participate with a group of super-talented & creative professional photographers from all over the world in what we call a Blog Carousel.  What is a Blog Carousel you ask?  Well, each month has a theme and we each link to the next photographer in the circle/carousel.  In each post you can follow the link to the next post and so on until you’ve traveled all the way around the carousel.  This month’s theme is alternative cameras… anything other than the norm.  Of course, there is always my iPhone that I simply adore for taking snapshots every day – and while I know some photographers that can ROCK their iPhone (which I’m sure you’ll see in the Carousel!) – I am not yet one of them.

I do have a few beautiful vintage cameras and wanted to use one of them – but yours truly is lacking the dark room for that.  So, I remembered another photographer telling me about how you could hook up a digital camera to shoot through a vintage viewfinder camera and I found this article with directions on how to make it.  So I got out my Argus (it looks like this) the cardboard, box cutter and lots and lots of duct tape and I was in business!  It is a clunky contraption and when you look down through it to shoot everything is flipped.  So if you want to shift the frame to the left, you have to move right, if you want to tilt it to the left, you have to tilt right.  I’m pretty sure I looked quite tipsy while attempting to wield this monstrosity, but hey – I was having FUN!  And, thankfully, even though this was one giant experiment – I did end up with some images that I truly love.  I hope you’ll enjoy them as well.

Much thanks to my beautiful little niece for being the most adorable model… love you J!

Next, take a look at the beautiful work of Teri Mason and what she thought of for ‘Alternateive Cameras’ – Georgetown and Austin Texas Senior Photographer.

  • Melissa - Gracious, she’s cute! <3

  • Calgary Baby Photographer -Bowes Photography -Baby Art™ - […] so much for stopping by. Be sure to follow along on the carousel and check out my friend MaryBeth, Grand Rapids Newborn, Family and Senior Photographer’s really awesome post about her alternative cameras. Posted in blog carousel, for photographers, […]

  • Corey - These are so cool, Mary Beth! Love the look and feel to these!

  • Anna-Karin - These are so great and I love the “historic feel” to them. Love that you found a way to use your old camera with your new digital camera. A true inspiration. Maybe one day I will be so brave to try my self!

  • christine plamann - wow, these are beautiful!

  • alpana - love these and they have a holga like look! Thanks for the article link too- will have to try it out sometime.

  • marmalade - MaryBeth, I love your interpretation on the theme. I love the combination of surreal mixed with modern digital. GORGEOUS images.

  • June - Love these, Mary Beth. Really an inspiration!

  • dena robles - I am so glad you finally tried this! Your first attempts blow my first attempts out of the water though. I sense a TTV fieldtrip coming on…

  • Julie - OMGosh, I must try this!! That is such a fantastic idea! These turned out amazingly!

  • Samara Hutcheson - What a great idea! I have some vintage cameras collecting dust on the shelf I really need to get out and try something fun with them!

  • Danna - these are incredible MaryBeth!! You have inspired me to research and look up new ways to play with my older cameras!

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