Wednesday, January 30, 2013

photo booth: behind the scenes

the photo booth experience created by kellyallison photography brings an exciting, engaging and highly interactive addition to your reception, engagement party, or other grand celebration.

combining great design, vintage appeal, and a wide variety of sassy props,
     this photo booth is unlike any other.

     the open air setting encourages audience participation, and accomodates groups of all sizes.

     the beautifully styled backdrops are custom designed to match the look and feel of your event.

     even the prop selection can be tailored to fit a specific theme.

     and for those interested in paper ephemera, vintage polaroid services can be added.


each photobooth experience includes a stop-motion video and a keepsake flip book, ensuring all of your guest's antics are captured and preserved for hours of endless future entertainment.

click here to see some of our recent favorites.

availability is limited, so book your photo booth experience today!


kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Birthday!

happy birthday boy, happy family, happy day.

party pics coming soon!


kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

rainbow butterfly chocolates - how to

creating the butterflies for the rainbow cake and cake pops was great fun.

the good news is that chocolate stores well at room temperature, so you can make the wings well in advance of cake & pop assembly.

be sure not to freeze your chocolate pieces. extreme temps cause the fats in chocolate to bloom, bringing chalky looking crystals to the surface. room temperature storage is always best.

adapted from Hello Cupcake

supplies needed:

candy making squeeze bottles
chocolate candy melts
tinted white candy melts
(should you choose to tint your own, buy white chocolate candy melts and oil-based tints)
parchment paper
index card for drawing your butterfly template(s)

helpful tips for working with chocolate (a cautionary tale):

* don't use chocolate chips--they don't melt as smoothly, and will never fully set. bottom line, they don't work for this project (trust me, I learned the hard way).

* don't let even the tiniest drop of water into your chocolate. ever. any moisture will cause the chocolate to sieze. once that happens, there is no hope. you can use siezed chocolate for baking recipes, but it won't work for candy. (again, speaking from experience)

* if you're tinting your own white chocolate, use oil tints. as noted above, even the smallest amount of water will ruin your chocolate, so water-based colors won't work (yes, yes, I tried this, too)

* don't overheat your chocolate. candy melts don't need much heat to melt to a super smooth consistency, and chocolate that becomes too hot will also become too thick.

* if you over heat your chocolate and it becomes too thick, don't add milk, water, butter, shortening, or any other suggestion you might (ahem) find online. your results will not be candy-friendly. you can, however add paramount crystals which will help to thin your base without ill effects.

*if bakerella uses merckens chocolate, and recommends it, you should follow her advice. I chose a different brand for convenience, and regretted the mistake.

to begin making your chocolate butterflies, fill one bottle with chocolate melts, and one with tinted melts. place bottles in a pan of hot water to melt. take care that no water enters the squeeze bottles--if they come with a cap, use it.

after a minute or two in the hot water, shake your bottles to help disperse heat. repeat as needed until the chocolate is melted to a smooth consistency. keep the hot water handy as you'll need to reheat your chocolate as you go.

alternately, melt your chocolate in a double broiler or in the microwave (taking great care not to overheat) and spoon into sandwich baggies. cut a small hole at the tip of the bag and use to pipe your design.

once your chocolates are melted, you're ready to begin.

lay a large sheet of parchment over a cookie sheet, and slide your template under at one corner. using a steady hand, pipe a chocolate border all around each wing. you want to make sure each wing in an individual candy, so take care they don't connect at any point.


working quickly but steadily, fill in the wings with your tinted chocolate. with a toothpick, push the tinted chocolate all the way to the chocolate border, and swirl together in a couple spots, to create a subtle marbling effect.

while your chocolate wings are still warm, sprinkle a few nonpareils at the tips of the wings, to mimic the patterning of a monarch.

slide your stencil to a new area of parchment, and repeat. allow your wings to set on the parchment paper for an hour or so, then move to an air tight container until ready to use.

for different sized butterflies, simply change the size of your stencil. to mount atop cake pops, I made 1" wings. for the cake, I used three sizes: 1", 2" & 3.1/5" wings.

if you have chocolate left over once you've made your desired quantity, play around on the parchment to create additional design elements for decorating. with the extra tinted chocolate I had from the project, I created rows of polka dots that were later used to decorate the sides of the cake. I used the left-over dark chocolate to make antennae (which I decided not to use, after all).

when you're ready to decorate your cake, melt a fresh batch of the dark chocolate melts. draw a thick line for your butterfly's body, and allow to cool for a few seconds. while still soft, sink the wings into the chocolate body at your desired angle. hold in place until set (a few seconds more). for larger wings, add additional support by tucking a white chocolate morsel beneath each wing.

If you decide to use antennae, add one more drop of chocolate to the head, insert antennae, and hold until set.

to make cake pops, I followed the basic recipe & directions found at

when decorating cake pops with butterflies, draw a small body atop each pop, and insert wings as described above. hold in place until set. as the wings are tiny, you shouldn't need much chocolate to hold them in place.

for added cuteness, drop each cake pop into a vintage paper straw.

last, but not least, find an eager volunteer (or happy assistant) to taste the results for a picture.



kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

rainbow butterfly birthday cake - how to

in case you're interested, here are some pics of how to make all those many layers & such, and some helpful tips to go along.

rainbow cake:

any cake recipe will do, but white works best to let the color shine through. pick your favorite, and double the batch.

for the layers, you must, must, must buy a set of these. they are some crazy cloth & metal band that wraps around the outside of your pan and works magic on your layers to keep them level. without them, your cake will be domed (& doomed).

a kitchen scale is most helpful in determining the batter into equal portions, but in its absence, divide your layers using a measuring cup. as a reference, this cake uses about 1.5 cups of batter for each of eight layers baked in an 8" pan.

once your layers are divided, color each using soft gel paste food coloring. this is the only way to get vibrant results. very little is needed, so start with just a couple drops. and don't attempt to mix colors--they just get muddy.

bake each layer at your recipe's recommended temperature until the top bounces when touched. my layers baked up in only 8 minutes, so be sure to watch your clock.

once cooled, flash freeze each layer (preferably on cake boards), then wrap in cellophane until you're ready to assemble. be sure to plan in advance and don't skip this freezing step. it is the key to successful cake decoration. cake layers (when well wrapped) can live in the freezer for up to a month without sacrificing flavor or texture. if you're planning on freezing for more than a day, brush each layer with a light simple syrup to keep the cake moist.


I prefer a basic american buttercream--butter, vanilla, confectioner's sugar. but feel free to use whatever favorite icing recipe you have on hand. you'll need quite a bit of icing to fill all those layers, so make sure to have plenty of ingredients on hand. for this cake, I multiplied my recipe by four.

to get started, lay out your bottom layer on your display stand, or you can always decorate on a cake board wrapped in foil. if you're working straight on the display, tuck strips of parchment paper below the cake on all sides to keep the plate clean.

spread icing between each layer, making sure the cake is level after each layer addition. once it's all stacked, apply a thin crumb coat to make sure your white icing isn't tainted by a confetti of rainbow crumbs. let the cake rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, until the crumb coat is set.

once set, apply a smooth even layer of white icing to the entire cake, and decorate as desired. I had loads of tinted white chocolate left over after making the butterflies, so I decided to create polka dots to adorn the cake sides. you can also use sprinkles, or just leave it a simple & lovely white (yielding even greater surprise when the layers are revealed).

good luck, and have fun!


kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

rainbow butterfly birthday party

we're in the midst of planning our next birthday shindig, so I figure it's a good time to share some parties from last year.

what better way to start than with our rainbow butterfly birthday party from last summer:

INVITATIONS: designed and printed by kellyallison photography using materials from Paper Source and photos pulled from my instagram stream
PARTY FAVORS: everyone received hand tied tutus, and were invited to decorate butterfly crowns (inspired by these, but designed in house and cut from a silhouette cutting machine)

SWEET TREATS: thanks to whisk kid & bakerella, I was empowered to try my hand at the many layer cake and the ever intimidating cake pops. The butterfly chocolate idea is an adaptation on the incredible monarch butterfly from hello cupcake.

PAPER GOODS: mostly sourced from the good people of fort & field (I've said it before, but best party sundries ever!)

DECOR: great ideas from Design*Sponge & Style Me Pretty lead to the cupcake liner pom-poms and the streamer kites.


kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

it's a party

it's january, so that means we're in full throttle party planning.

      this time 'round we like the look of vintage trains. 

we'll keep you posted as the details develop.

many thanks in advance to the good people of fort & field party supplies, frost cake design, and may boury styling for making this one a hit.

     y'all are good people.

kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.