Disclaimer: a bit of creative meandering about goes on in this post.  Deep thinking about vision.  Skip this bit if you aren’t feeling deep today!  🙂

Hit <PLAY> and hang out awhile…I love DCFC (death cab for cutie) and this is def. one of my faves:




There are so many rumblings going about the internet these days, in my line of work especially, about copying, about imitation, about originality and about inspiration.  I guess it’s only natural that this topic comes up amongst those of us who create for a living.

Several things have come up in the past few days that have made me think about what inspires me, what makes me tick.  This is one of those things that crosses my mind often actually…what is the basis of my work.

The good:  I was speaking on the phone to a new client yesterday morning and she said that she contemplated hiring a photographer based on several factors.  Originality being one of them.  This new client gave me the impression of being pretty discriminating (she travels the globe and collects art from all over the world) and to be told that by someone who simply viewed my portfolio was a boost to the ego (so thank you Lia!).  I know I’m far from the most unusual photographer out there but I do like to think that bringing to the table that is so very unique is my worldview, the way I see things and I really truly hope that all that inspires me is sort of lost amongst the shuffle in the work that I present.  Yes you can tell that I am inspired by a million things (some more than others…) but I hope that you can’t even pinpoint one source.  I talk about this ad nauseum during the photographer’s workshops that I host , not just the concept of originality (because as photographers we can bang on that drum all day!)  but being true to HOW you see the world and what inspires you.  Emulation as a creative endeavor is not a sincere form of flattery for anyone involved.

In art school (so I have been told numerous times) the burgeoning artist is encouraged during their early stages to emulate great works of art.  In art it is recognized that without some level of emulation you cannot learn basics.  While that is true as a student, as you become an artist you are then encouraged to switch gears and become more individual and to apply the very basics to your own vision.  I can honestly say without doubt I try to live my life in the way that provides me meaning, in the way that provides my work with everything I need for it to be the way I envision in my head.  I think, that as a photographer who has "several" 😉 fellow photographer readers, many of who are burgeoning into becoming professional or possibly are on the path to doing so, it would be a disservice to not discuss the concept of finding your voice in your art.  While I think that yes, it’s all been done before, sheer emulation (on basis of locations, poses, concepts) is not a worthwhile or truthful endeavor to yourself.  You sell yourself short by not following your vision.  And instead of flattering the person you may be emulating, in fact you may be insulting them.  Think carefully before doing something that doesn’t wholeheartedly inspire you to respond to your inner voice.  By not being true to yourself you only cheat yourself in the long run.

The internet, with it’s widespread ability to inspire us, has made us often complacent when it comes time to give credit where credit is due.  Unfortunately we believe because we are viewing something on a small box in the privacy of our home, that we are the only ones privy to what someone else is showing.  As if it is our own secret.  The fact is, my small corner (er, corners) of the internet, sites as small as my own gets literally thousands of hits weekly.  SO think carefully about not listening to your inner voice.   Do you want to be known as a copy of someone or would you rather be known as someone who thinks outside of the box.   There are literally hundreds of people who are thinking they are on the inside scoop for something, that does not make for a very small club.  🙂  My message is think very long & hard about emulating someone’s site/work/poses/etc. before doing so.  The internet ends up being a very small place.  It really does.


Prissy Missy


Dock Girls I


To that end I think Herman Melville said it best:

"I think it is better to fail in originality than succeed at imitation."


Being human it is in our nature to be inspired by others.  Great achievements have been made based upon using someone elses’ ideas/concepts/inventions and bettering them.  So if you are inspired by someone and are working on improving a concept someone else has done, by all means should you give credit to where credit is due.  I’ve personally made the mistake of not following through with something in the past few months and once I realized the error of my ways, I did all in my power to rectify it.  Because being inspired is part of what makes us human but also we are obligated to those who inspire us to occasionally give them some credit.  That’s part of being a good human.  🙂

Thus concludes my creative PSA for the day.  I only want for each of us to be the best that we can be.  To follow our own path set forth for us.  Looking at my own life I know I have come to my place for a reason…find the path that your life is meant to follow and you will never live a life of regret or sadness.


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  • elizabeth - May 19, 2008 - 8:21 am

    Ohhh I love these image Mare.. wow

  • Pammy - May 21, 2008 - 10:07 am

    That image of your girls on the dock has always been one of my favorites and I think that is when I first noticed your work. Stay unique.


This past weekend (before MORE rain fell on Mother’s Day) I had the pleasure of hanging out & photographing the adorable R Family.  The session took place at The Forest Location (the first forest session of 2008!) and it was truly more awesome because this family lives in Channahon (heck, we’re almost neighbors!) and spend a decent amount of time there…so it was a little more special than usual. 

So…I think Brittney, the mom, gets me, she got the kids and the husband to do THIS!!!!

Channahon Illinois Photographer Marmalade Photography


I love this picture so much.  I can’t even begin to talk about it…

We also had some fun climbing fallen trees:

Suburban Chicago Photographer for Children


and even did a few things for girls only!


chicago child photographer


A big thanks to them for travelling all the way from Channahon (LOL) to meet up with me in the forest.



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  • Jennifer - May 12, 2008 - 10:52 am

    Wow, that first image is just beautiful! What a great location…

  • Daniela - May 12, 2008 - 10:58 am

    Sooooo beautiful. Sooooo dreamy.

  • PamN - May 12, 2008 - 1:33 pm

    They are so beautiful! The first one is just a fantastic piece of art for their home.

  • R. Kneschke - May 13, 2008 - 3:53 am

    The first picture is really an extraordinary picture! How about the light? Did you use available light only or some sort of flash?

  • Kelli - May 13, 2008 - 5:16 am

    Color is amazing. I love the family shot…it is perfect.

  • Marianne - May 13, 2008 - 6:19 am

    Thanks guys.

    Available light R.. Plus I would’ve been too far from the subjects to use flash effectively. It was on a cropped sensor dSLR w/the 50mm so the effective focal length was in the 80’ish zone…the distance from the dock was significant and flash would’ve not been effective to illuminate the subjects.

  • Kimberly Hill - May 13, 2008 - 1:11 pm

    That first image? AMAZING!! You + that forest + this family = perfection.

  • Annette Velez - May 14, 2008 - 1:56 pm

    I love your work…especially the pictures at the forest. I must ask, where is this beautiful forest?

  • kathy wolfe - May 14, 2008 - 2:01 pm

    um..wow. no words.

  • June - May 14, 2008 - 7:05 pm

    STUNNING! What more can I say? That first one left me speechless:)

  • Susan Braswell - May 19, 2008 - 10:34 pm

    That 1st one O-M-G

    I will be so sad if these clients get this smaller than a 20×24 and that is probably not the best size for this. I see a 20×30 easily or 30×40 right over their bed.

Does it get better than this?  I rec’d a call from the VERY thoughtful dad who purchased the two session Marmalade Baby Plan for his wife.  Congrats to them (the baby is really little still) and kudos to him.   He gets the thoughtful dad of the year prize!!   My own husband was sitting next to me in the car and I sort of gave him the glance. you know what I mean girls…THE glance.  Like DUDE!  Why didn’t you think of doing something like this for me?  I love pictures!  LOL

Chicago Children


Anyway, thought I’d share the most favorite thing I’ve had happen this week and to share a couple of my own fave people and their own relationship type shots.  One of them is a few posts below (Lisa getting flowers from her youngest) so I won’t bore you any further…


Chicago Mom and Baby Photography




Naperville Mom and Son Photography


Milwaukee Mom and Child Photograph


Chicago Mother and Baby Girl Photographer


oh my gosh, I have a million of these, I have to stop in a minute…


Chicago Northern Suburbs On Location Photographer


Chicagoland Southwest Suburban Photographer


Naperville Photography


Chicago Photographer Marmalade Photography



Clarendon Hills Photographer

I’ve gotten carried away, I easily have another 20 or so to add….so finally and most recently

South Suburban Children


Joliet Photographer


Happy Mother’s Day (Eve & Day Day!)




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Anytime a call comes in I start waxing poetic about the occasional rain date.  Well yesterday I got a shipment of totally adorable boots and umbrellas from TARGET of all places and there was a cupcake pair for my little L Girl.  She immediately wanted to put them on and use the umbrella that came in yesterday and knowing this was a moment I couldn’t pass up I took her outside in the rain (thank goodness for weather proofing on the new camera cuz it did get pretty wet).  So kids, altho I am not a fan of selective color, this feels  more vintage.  And I love the mood.  The little play house way out in the background just suits the misty mood of this shot…so I thought I’d share a rainy day moment with you all.



So, gearing up for another rainy afternoon today. 

Photographers: workshop registration still is ongoing.  Last date for early registration $100 discount is at the end of this month.  🙂  Little reminder for you more spendthrifty types!


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  • Caitlin Domanico Pho - May 8, 2008 - 2:34 pm

    This photo is gorgeous!!!

  • Chantelle - May 8, 2008 - 5:14 pm

    wow! what a stunning image, I love the moodiness of it

  • MaryAnn T - May 8, 2008 - 6:10 pm

    Mare, that is an ooohh wow image!! Perfection! I love how her webkin matches her dress, hehe!

  • Whitney - May 8, 2008 - 8:25 pm

    LOVE it! Wish it was Maddie!

  • elizabeth - May 9, 2008 - 6:54 am

    love that song..and video..and the rainy day photo is perfect.

  • Paula Swift - May 9, 2008 - 7:47 am

    Wow ….just gorgeous!

  • Heather Gibb - May 9, 2008 - 9:15 am

    Wow—totally beautiful and amazing!!! How are you going to display that? Canvas, metallic? It is just perfect!!!!

  • Kelli - May 9, 2008 - 3:33 pm

    oh, my goodness…these image rocks. I LOVE it.

  • Laura Geraci - May 9, 2008 - 7:43 pm

    How amazing is that picture!!

  • Jen Lane - May 9, 2008 - 8:19 pm

    love that image. sigh. just darling

    and I how I loved Blind Melon. I was so sad when Shannon Hoon (sure I misspelled his last name) died. Ugh. Such a fun video though!

  • Anna Mayer - May 9, 2008 - 10:22 pm

    Now THAT is a lovely image. Beautiful.

  • Kimberly Hill - May 10, 2008 - 6:41 am

    You make even selective color look good!

  • nina pomeroy - May 10, 2008 - 7:56 am

    WOW – What a fantastic shot with the umbrella and boots!!!! Love the selective tinting and reflection..wonderful work!


I had the pleasure of photographing Lisa and her gorgeous family last fall.  Her three children are a photographer’s dream!  Sweet, polite and really good in front of the camera….it was a joy to capture them discovering and having fun in the forest.

Lisa is quite dynamic, a busy mom of three juggling several things all at once!  I know it’s not atypical for us women to do so many things all at one time but Lisa Z. has it down in spades!   Welcome to the Marmalade Photography 15 minutes of fame (ha, I crack myself up) Q&A.


Naperville Family Photographer

My name:  Lisa Zarkin

My business:  PlanSmart Financial Services (Certified Financial Planner) for 16 years; owner of four Cookie Cutters Salons for the past four years.  One in Geneva and three others in the Naperville area.  And Zoo On Yoo Hair and Body Care for Kidz for 1 year.  Mom to 3 kids.  

I live: in Naperville, IL

A little factoid about me that not many people know about:  I’m taking Tae Kwan Do and am currently a Brown Belt.

One of my fave foods:  cheese pizza

One of my fave brands of kids clothes:  Gymboree for Girls (check out the link I found for girls stuff, it’s soooo stinking adorable!)   & Tommy Hilfiger for Boys

Where I like to shop for grown up clothesWhite House Black Market

When I indulge, I indulge in:  cheese pizza  (I think I’m noticing a trend!  🙂 )

My favorite image from my session with Marmalade Photography is….







Thank you Lisa and thanks to my readers for stopping in!

Namaste, Mare

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  • Guy Teerlinck - May 7, 2008 - 9:54 am

    Great work !!! your pictures are really great.
    Sunny greetings from Spain
    Guy and Gaelle

  • PamN - May 7, 2008 - 10:43 am

    They are all fabulous, but that first one of the toddler giving flowers to Mom is just killer!

  • Meggan - May 7, 2008 - 11:13 am

    These are gorgeous Mare! Love them!

  • Season Moore - May 7, 2008 - 3:11 pm

    Oh these are stunning!

  • Tobi - May 7, 2008 - 6:57 pm

    Umm Wow…what a beautiful session!! they are all amazing.

  • Susan Braswell - May 7, 2008 - 7:07 pm

    What a beautiful family and I love hearing about lil facts on photographers clients 🙂

  • Carrie Steffe - May 8, 2008 - 6:42 am

    What a great read! And that mom is just GORGEOUS! Beautiful children too!

  • Ritz Rivera - May 8, 2008 - 10:04 am

    B e a u t i f u l ! That first one is perfect in every way…Mare, your work is so whimsical and just wonderful to look at.