Katie and Cameron’s wedding is one that you dream about photographing. 

Downtown Chicago. 

On the Lake.

Historic University.

Beautiful Church.

I loved getting to know them at their engagement session at the Garfield Conservatory. Since both of them are finishing their residency in California, they flew in for a weekend to get their engagement photos done. They also had other wedding related events, like tastings, but I like to think it was the highlight of their weekend to get their portraits done. And they weren’t just practice for their wedding day. They were used on the official invitations! 

I remember obsessively checking the wedding the day before. It called for rain. I’m not afraid of rain; I’d rather just prefer not to photograph in rain. There was a bit of texting going on reassuring Katie that wedding pictures in the rain can still turn out great. And that they did. We worked in a constant mist all day with some showers throughout the day, made use of shelter whenever we needed to, and toughed out the elements to get some great shots. 

The Wedding Team

Photo: Me!

Second Shooter: Dana Magnus

Video: Rhys Ladhani Media

Location: Loyola University Chicago (Madonna Della Strada Cathedral)

DJ: Sound MVMT

Event Planner: Events by Kiersten

Check out their wedding highlights below.

The Rosasco’s are a couple that I have to thank Facebook for. I truly believe that mutual friends was the reason that this wedding was even brought to my attention, and I think that building positive relationships with people ended up landing me this wedding.

Miranda and Jimmy were a couple that took advantage of my engagement sessions that are included in my wedding packages. I love being able to build relationships with couples through multiple photo shoots. It makes the wedding day less stressful, and ultimately, I think it makes them more comfortable in front of a camera.

You can’t do a photo shoot in downtown Naperville without hitting some of the iconic spots.

Their wedding day in Lake Geneva was such an awesome getaway from what I have photographed in the past. I have only been to Lake Geneva a handful of times, so it was such a great opportunity to venture outside of where I am comfortable photographing, and it forced me to do some new scouting for locations.

Their fall wedding was beautiful, but I didn’t think it would be as cold as it was in October. The super high winds didn’t help keep us warm either, and they became more of a challenge than an aide for taking wedding portraits. I feel like Lake Geneva always gives the impression that it is beautiful and warm outside, unless there is obvious signs of winter of their photos. Needless to say, I was reminded that we were in the midwest once the winds hit from the lake.

Their wedding day featured photos at a family lake house, a trolly ride, a beautiful traditional service, beautiful scenery at the pier, iconic backdrops in Lake Geneva, and a beautifully decorated venue that was full of elegance and grace.

It also presented a challenge that happens at some weddings. The ceremony ran late, like 30 minutes late, and we had photos planned at a certain location that unfortunately needed to be cancelled. Thankfully, Jimmy and Miranda were super flexible, and we ended up doing their portraits and bridal party portraits right outside of the venue instead of at the wetlands that we had planned. That’s one thing that I don’t think is communicated often enough to couples. You can plan out the perfect wedding day, but unfortunately, there are some things that are out of your control. Flexibility is key in those moments, and being able to roll with the punches is important.

How could I almost forget this: there was a cocktail party on a boat! For an entire hour, we cruised around Lake Geneva and enjoyed cocktails, hor d’oeuvres, and live music before we settled in to venue at the Riviera. By the end of the night, Jimmy and Miranda surprised their guests with a choreographed surprise first dance that produced plenty of full belly laughs and even some tears of joy for the happy couple.

Here are the wonderful people I had the opportunity to work with on this wedding day

Second Photographer: Sara with Lady Appleseed Photography

Coordinator: Jaffe with Graceful Events Weddings

DJ: Pete’s My DJ

Video: Omar Haro Videography

Floral Design: Pesche’s Greenhouse

Venue: The Riviera

Enjoy some of the highlights from their wedding day!

Pete and Nicole’s engagement session was exactly what it needed to be: a practice run through of what could be expected on their wedding day. I’ve written about engagement sessions before (see here) and why you should have one before your wedding day, even if you don’t “need” the photos. Pete and Nicole didn’t need their engagement session; they actually didn’t book with me until May of 2018 and their wedding is this upcoming September. By the time they had booked me for their wedding day, they already sent out their save the dates. Most couples use their engagement photos for their save the dates, but I still offered it to them as a practice session for their wedding day photos. It also gives me the opportunity to know what they know: are they familiar with any poses, have they ever been photographed before, or is this going to be a completely new experience? I’m glad that we got through a couple of hiccups during this engagement session that will be avoided on their wedding day. I was also able to have come conversations with Nicole and Pete about certain poses and styles that they wanted on their wedding day.

The first time we had scheduled this engagement session, there was a torrential downpour. We rescheduled for a couple of weeks later, and we got some pretty humid weather, but Pete and Nicole were great sports and took me up on my offer of a new location that would include a lot of walking. I’ve had my eye on Waubonsie Lake for a while; it’s a path that I’m very familiar with since it’s one of my running haunts during marathon training season. I knew that I wanted to take photos by the bridges, by the dam, and in the more heavily wooded area of the lake. I’ve always noticed spots that I’ve thought would be great photo spots, but I was surprised at so many new places that caught my attention during the session.

One spot in particular that caught me by surprise was this massive Weeping Willow. Weeping Willows should catch my attention; after all, they are my wife’s favorite tree. I love the depths that the leaves provide for these images and just the size of this tree. This is definitely a spot that I will be back to with other couples.

Here are a couple of other favorites from Nicole and Pete’s engagement session. I’m excited to photograph their wedding at The City Gate Grille and Hotel Arista in Naperville, IL this upcoming September.

When I first met with the couple, Sal and Miriam, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when they told me that their wedding and reception was going to be in a photography studio. I even looked at Trigger Chicago’s website to see how other people have photographed weddings there, but it isn’t necessarily a wedding space, so understandably, there aren’t a ton of wedding photos on their website.

What I did see upon arriving at the space was that this was going to be an intimate wedding. There were maybe 7 rows of chairs available with about 10 chairs in each row. Every chair was filled, and the space was even filled to standing room only. It is such a joy to see so many people attending the ceremony and not just the reception. It shows the impact and care that the couple has on so many people. The ceremony was special too. The bride was walked down the aisle by her two sons, and her daughter was one of the flower girls. There was a beautiful moment shared with all attending where the family showed their union through the pouring of sands. This is usually something that I’ve seen couples do to show their union, but when children are involved, it is even more momentous.

One of my worries was where to take photos outside during the cocktail hour. Trigger is on the north side of Chicago, and since it is street level, there aren’t any great ways to get the Chicago skyline as a backdrop. There is a park that is just down the street, but parking isn’t ideal since it is mostly neighborhood parking. I always scout locations before a wedding, but due to the unpredictable Chicago weather, I wasn’t sure if it was going to snow on a March 3rd wedding date, or if we were going to have 60 degree days like we did in late February. I got lucky with a beautiful clear sky, so lighting during the golden hour was perfect. We didn’t even need a special location for photos. I used my 70-200mm (which has become my favorite new purchase) to focus in on the couple and play with the lighting. We ending up doing photos right outside of the front door and in the back alley. I don’t think I have ever been able to say that in the past and be totally proud of the way the photos turned out, but I think these are beautiful. Of course a beautiful bride with a gorgeous veil and an extremely stylish groom with a plaid burgundy/mauve jacket would make anyone’s portraits spectacular.

During the ceremony, someone had referenced that Sal and Miriam wanted it to feel like a good old house party, accompanied by house music of course. That is exactly what happened during the reception. After the traditional dances, again which were beautiful because Miriam danced with her boys, the DJ started spinning house music that brought all attendees out in droves. With each new song that was blended in, the crowd cheered as they danced the night away to the nostalgia of a Chicago music staple. This was definitely a wedding to remember.

Congratulations to Miriam and Sal!

 

I’ve done a handful of photo shoots in Chicago, and one of the best things about this city is that not one of them looks them same. There are so many different spots to take photos and so many incredible backdrops that each photo shoot in the city is really incredibly unique.

Tyler came my way through one of my teaching colleagues and friends. After several years of dating, Tyler had decided that 2018 was the year when him and his girlfriend were finally getting engaged. He had shared this with my colleague, and she connected us on capturing this special day.

I met up with Tyler on that cold Chicago morning, and we scouted out the best spot at the very end of the pier by the Adler Planetarium. The cafe that they have there was a lifesaver because Tyler had a scavenger hunt for Katrina to complete before her final destination was the planetarium. After the location had been set, we waited. I gave Tyler a couple of pointers, I shared some of the mistakes when I proposed to my wife (make sure you place the ring on her left hand, your right), told him how to position her and where I would be taking photos from, and we waited.

Thank God for Snapchat. It helped keep Tyler’s anxiety in check about the whole situation. He was supposed to receive text updates, but he was able to keep up through a Snapchat story instead. Once they were at the final stop, we waited outside for the moment of the day.To say the least, it was a success! She said “Yes!” Take at look at their special moment. This is an engagement I will never forget. 

Christmas season means Christmas photos for Christmas cards. Here are a few highlights from a photo shoot this past Sunday.

This was such a fun photo shoot. The lights were set up for me when I got there, and the twins had these fun ornaments to play with. If you try to emulate this look/style, make sure they are shatterproof ornaments. These ornaments were, thankfully, since the twins loves smashing them together. It was such an easy set up, and part the part that I loved the most is that it is so easy to recreate in anyone’s home. I brought my off camera flashes with some light diffusers, set one up on a tripod and the other on the floor, and I was able to create this nice soft light in their home.

Now that my wife and I have Logan, we’ll have to send out a Christmas card to our family. Here was our trial run with Christmas light photos.  He was more intrigued by what they would taste like than smiling at us. More photos to come later.

It’s my favorite time of the year. Now the weather just needs to check itself and remember that it is supposed to snow during the holiday season instead of being warm and having shorts weather. I can’t wait to take some more holiday photos for Christmas cards. These holiday photos can be done as mini sessions in your home. Let me know if you want to set something up.