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!

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 never really thought about this idea that clients need to prepare for a photo shoot. I do have a couple of reminders that I tell clients when I meet them, but I never thought to be more extensive about the tips that I give them before their shoot. I was listening to a podcast where they were describing the best things to do in a shoot, and when they stated that clients need to be prepared for a shoot, I thought “Why hadn’t I thought of that before?” I’ve never really needed to prepare anyone for a photography shoot beforehand, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to prepare someone or for them to have some pointers before they are in front of a camera.

The Waterstraat Wedding The Waterstraat Wedding There are a couple of things to keep in mind during your session. The most important is that you should enjoy your photography session. You will remember the sessions totally differently than a photographer will, and you will also have a bias of your pictures based on how your session went. Someone can look at a beautiful portrait of you and your fiance and think it is the most beloved picture they have ever seen, yet you may have a different idea about the photo because you had a bad experience during the photo shoot. It is difficult to separate the emotion from the moment in time. I’m going to be talking mostly about engagement sessions because I believe that they are extremely important to have prior to a wedding day (check out my post about that), but some of these tips can also apply to your wedding day.

The Waterstraat WeddingYou should be relaxed during your engagement session. It should be fun. Think of your engagement session as your chance to get to know me as a photographer and a person, but on the flip side, it is also my chance to get to know you as a model. It’s helpful to have that fun, no pressure, engagement session before your wedding so you get a sense of what it’s like to be in front of the camera.

Here are some tips to be totally prepared for an engagement session:

  1. Outfits: Usually, couples will have two outfits for an engagement session, a casual one to start and a dressier one to finish. When planning these outfits, think about coordinating your outfit instead of matching. Matching can look tacky, especially if similar patterns or designs are on the clothing. Think about wearing colors that are in similar families. Ladies, big jewelry (besides your ring of course), scarves, bold colors, and stand out shoes look great in this sessions. Have fun with your outfit, but make sure that you look and feel comfortable.
  2. Preparing the Groom: In my own experience and having had my engagement photos taken, I can say that it is usually the bride’s idea to have these photos done. Most grooms don’t go on Pinterest and pick out favorite poses or coordinate outfits, but if they do, more power to them! Let your groom know what style of photography they are in for. Maybe show him a couple of your favorite poses before the session. I think that some grooms are aware that they will be asked to nuzzle their fiance, but there are others that think they will only be smiling into the camera and that the entire session will be maybe 15 minutes. Help him know what to expect by showing him some of your favorite poses.
  3. It might be awkward at first…and that’s perfectly okay! I don’t expect any client to be a pro at modeling, and it usually is better if you’ve never modeled because I can position you how I want you to look. Out of all of the weddings and engagement sessions that I’ve photographed, only one had been a model, and that was a brief stint. I usually tell couples that it might take a good 15-20 minutes to warm up to the camera, and that is totally reasonable. That’s why engagement sessions are at least an hour long because I want you to relax and enjoy the session. Don’t be nervous, and don’t worry if you’ve never been photographed and are worried about looking natural as you stand with your fiance in the middle of a prairie and look off into the beautiful horizon as the sun’s golden light gleans on your faces…most people haven’t.
  4. Timing and Location are Everything With natural light photographers, being on time is one of the most important parts of your shoot. Thankfully, I’ve never had a client be late to a session. Actually, most of them arrive early while I’m re-reviewing their information. If your shoot was scheduled 2 hours after sunrise or 2 hours before sunset, that’s because that is the best timing for natural lighting, and you won’t be squinting because the sun is too strong. I totally get it that some events like accidents or traffic are out of your control, but always try to be on time. When choosing a location, I love it when clients pick a place that means something special to them. It rekindles some of the pure emotion attached to those locations. If that isn’t possible, then we can create a new, memorable location. The pictures below show some of the beauty of natural lighting, but they also show the possibilities of set lights for a shoot.
  5. Hair, Makeup, and Ring Cleaner: Much like how an engagement session is a trial run for your wedding day, if you are getting your hair and makeup done for your wedding, you might want to try a trial run for your hair and makeup for your engagement shoot. If you don’t want to do that for your engagement shoot, apply a big more eye makeup than usual to really make your eyes pop. I will be taking at least one ring shot (after all, don’t you want to show it off?). You might want to get it cleaned before the session so that it really shines.
  6. For the people that want “natural shots” or “candids”: I’ve never had a client tell me, “I want all of my pictures to look posed,” yet I pose couples and clients in all of my photo shoots because a photo shoot without direction is very confusing and awkward. Don’t be totally against posing for a picture. A lot of candids happen when you are placed in a pose. Rarely will an experienced photographer tell you to stand in a certain spot, both look at the camera, and say cheese! There is a combination of the bride looking at the groom, the groom looking at the photographer, looking at each other, talking to each other, kissing, and thousands of other poses that will produce the candid, natural look that everyone is after. Follow all of the previous steps on this post to get ready for your experience and let the photographer worry about getting the “in the moment” shots. I say this tongue in cheek and with a smile on my face, but don’t worry about the photographer and, more importantly, don’t look at the photographer unless you are directed to do so. During your wedding day, you might notice the photographer stand behind a crowd of people and point the camera at you. It might be unnatural at first, but keep doing what you are doing. It’s your wedding day! Enjoy it! Be with others and have a blast, and let the photographer capture those memories. Personally, I’ll wave at the couple to direct them that I want them to look at me for this particular photo.

Hopefully these are some helpful tips for your session. Even if you are skipping the engagement session and only getting wedding pictures done, some of these tips can still apply to your wedding day. I think engagement sessions are so important that I offer them as a part of the wedding package. I like to think of them as your wedding deposit.