Everybody wants it

I grew up in a family of 5. Two parents, three kids. Two boys, one girl. That’s me, smack dab in the middle of two rowdy (but wonderfully kind) brothers. The older one has this “thing” called Marching-To-The-Beat-Of-One’s-Own-Drummer. The younger one is The Party. Me? Well, I like to think I was the classic middle child peacemaker, but I was probably closer to the I-Think-I-Know-It-All child… This different-ness worked to our advantage as kids, rarely did we step on each others’ toes vying for the same kind of attention or affirmation in the same area. But life isn’t always that neatly compartmentalized.

Sometimes we find our “thing” and relish the adoration that comes with it for about 5 minutes, only to find that our spotlight is actually quite crowded with others who believe this is also their “thing.” Photography is a lot like that. But here’s what keeps us sane, even if our “thing,” our creative outlet, our livelihood, our passion also shows itself in the multitudes – no one shares our exact same story, perspective, history or personality. We don’t have to exclude others in our search for what makes us special because it’s not the “thing” that brings the special-ness. Everyone wants a “thing” that brings significance but it is the person that has the significance. The “thing” is just a thing. And we are already significant.

Your story matters.

Understanding Photography Chicago blogger

Understanding Photography | Cameras

What kind of camera do you use?

This is one of the top 5 questions people ask me when they find out I’m a photographer. In fact, I’m guilty of asking it too. But here’s the deal: the type of camera you shoot with doesn’t really matter. I’ve shot with Nikon, Canon, Sony & iPhones. Digital & Film. Professional & Consumer level. Vintage and Modern. Don’t let equipment dictate your skill set. A camera is only a tool. Yes, different types of cameras excel at different things – but is your vision that creates a compelling photograph.

The real question we should ask each other should be: Why do you love photography?
I love storytelling.

visual storytelling

Free Photography Cheat Sheet | Storytelling Workshop

The day has finally arrived for the launch of

Storytelling with Heather Hart, a photography workshop!

Imagine loving your camera,
because you can create the photos you’ve always wanted.

This video shows my family, these are my candid personal photos, this is our beautiful story. You can take amazing photos that share your story too; you can do this!

Let’s take one day to understand what creates the emotion of your life story and how it translates into your photography. We will discuss elements of story and narrative photography as well as simplify the often overwhelming options for equipment, settings, apps and prints.

All of this, with an intimate group of women, eager to learn and support you. And of course, let’s not forget the inspiring setting of Cacao Sweets & Treats and the delicious natural, organic scratch-made confections that will spark our own creativity.

All camera types and all experience levels welcome. Participation is open to women high school age and above. Weather-permitting, we will conclude our time together with a photo walk through historic downtown Grayslake. Participation in this workshop also includes 6 months of membership in a private FaceBook group, a perfect place to share your story & continue your photographic exploration.

Workshop Pricing: $250 per participant
Saturday, May 2nd – 12:00PM-3:30PM
Cacao Sweets & Treats located at 122 Center Street, Grayslake, IL
Dessert table & beverages included
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ATTENDEE REFERRAL BONUS! Here’s the extra-awesome part: Because this workshop is all about you, the participants, we are offering a $50 CASH bonus for EACH additional paid attendee you refer! Want to attend for FREE? Simply refer 5 friends! Contact Heather for full details: heather [at] heatherhartstudio.com. Storytelling with Heather Hart PDF As a gift in honor of this fabulous day, here is a FREE Manual Photography Cheat Sheet for all of my favorite people! Learn Camera Settings Happy shooting!


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Modern Playroom Design | Lions and Trucks and Books

Lions and Trucks and Books… Oh my!

Here in Chicagoland winters belong to the brave, especially this one. You see, this year, Old Man Winter shook off the complacency of an occasional cold snap or snow day. THIS year, he rubbed his hands together menacingly and threw back his head back in maniacal laughter, “MINUS 50 degrees! Snow that NEVER stops! Schools closed & children kept INDOORS, HAHAHAHAHA!” Yes, that is a direct quote – I was there and it scared me.

Fortunately, we created a playroom for our 2 high-energy boys. However, I started to notice that these 2 boys seemed less and less inclined to play in said playroom. They drug toys all over the house. They whined about toys. They forgot how to play with toys. This called for drastic action as any parent of 2 cooped-up preschool children will understand. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, I said to myself (without the maniacal laughter… for now).

Taking stock of the playroom, I realized the true Master of this Domain. The chaos would not ruin me, I would triumph.

I turned to my purging skills: The toys will be reduced by half.
I turned to my organizational skills: Everything will have a place.
I turned to my spacial skills: There will be room for movement.
I turned to my artistic skills: This room must inspire imagination.

So with the help of Pinterest, Etsy and Target (& a few others great stores) the Playroom came back to life. Look, enjoy and by all means support the artists & shops that helped my dream of winter sanity come true.

This is a mashup of boyhood adventure, childish whimsy and a mother’s modern minimalism. 🙂 The animal prints are digital water colors I purchased from Three Spins Press and then framed to bring in a little nature. The large paper lanterns and stars are from Z Gallerie (I love that place!) and are meant to look like the sky with clouds and stars. The capes (what preschooler doesn’t adore capes?!) are handmade by my mom – a woman truly gifted with a sewing machine. My boys love to dress up and review their own heroic prowess so the large mirror fit perfectly, and truth be told, I love to catch them making faces at themselves in it. Adorable. I’m a big fan of texture so I also included the faux fur blanket by Restoration Hardware and the floor cushion by CB2. The lamp is from Target— I needed something sturdy & wanted a bit of an industrial look, this fit the bill well.

Modern Play Room Design

Back when it was warm, and we could feel things like fingers & toes, I took a photo of my boys lost in the world of sidewalk chalk. I printed it on a canvas with an excerpt from You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano. If you haven’t read it, you must… I don’t know if I’ve read a book that was a better description of how it feels to be a parent. You can see that I am a fan of large bins for toy organization – this makes clean up easy, especially since I downsized the amount of toys in the room. I put the other half of the toys in their respective bins and put them in an upstairs closest. I plan to rotate them periodically and keep the entertainment value fresh. My kids play  much better without having access to EVERY SINGLE TOY, ALL THE TIME. And now we can see the floor. Bonus. I am a book lover and have always wanted a tree bookcase, so I included one in this room to live vicariously through my children. It has that modern minimalism I love and made a perfect reading vignette with the Pascal chair and LIFE pillow.

Modern Play Room Chicago Design

My boys love dinosaurs and ‘Rawr-ing’ is one of our favorite pastimes. I wanted more emphasis on height in the room (in addition to the sky lantern sculpture) so I opted for a DIY hanging pendant that gave Rex the spotlight. He seems to flourish in it. I picked out a simple black linen shade and made the paper vine by punching circles out of construction paper and threading them together. I watched a lot of Downton Abbey while I did that. A lot. My boys also love big trucks and the folks at Bruder make such great looking toys I wanted them to sit out and entice little people to play with them. The Gunmetal Wall Shelves are perfect for displaying some artwork and a few of our favorite large picture books. They are very sturdy and went up in a jiffy.  Speaking of the artwork, the two you see below are pieces I’ve done and are available in my Etsy shop. I love CS Lewis and Star Wars and I want my boys to grow up inspired. The silver lion’s head mount is a nod to Aslan and the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of books we read when I was a child and I hope to do the same for my boys. The Mesh Silver Bulletin Board lets them revel in the joy of magnets and the room didn’t seem complete without a Radio Flyer tricycle. Yes, I do let them ride it around the house 🙂 We repurposed our old black coffee table for the playroom because the lip keeps Legos and train tracks perfectly contained… and we’ve had it for 8+ years, so it can handle the abuse. To add a little extra seating for the boys while they build their vast cities, I added a couple of Graphite Knitted Poufs. They also perform quite well when turned on their side and rolled around the house while racing your brother, FYI.

And just for kicks, you’ll see one of my super heroes taking his first flight around the room – we are indeed keeping Old Man Winter at bay. 🙂

Modern Play Room Chicago