Archive for August, 2012

In the beginning of the month, I set a list of goals I wanted to achieve in August. The idea was that by posting them on the internet for all of you to read, it would force me to stick to them or be extra disappointed in myself if I don’t. With the month nearing the end, here’s a recap and report on if I actually achieved any of them.

Goal: Get back into a workout routine. Turbokick, CardioSculpt, Muscle Max, running… whatever I can do – I’m hoping to get back into working out at least 3 to 4 times a week.

  • Status: Horrible FAIL. 🙁 In the entire month of August, I managed to only go to one CardioSculpt class, one Turbokick class, and go on one run. My goal of 3 to 4 times a week didn’t even turn out to be 3 to 4 times a month. How embarrassing. I still have a few days of the month left though so hopefully I can at least workout more than 5 times this month. This goal will definitely have to be carried over into September. I’m actually getting a head start on it because I’m on pace to work out at least 3 to 4 times this week.

Goal: Create blog categories and stick to them. My blog thus far has been a compilation of random thoughts, and it needs to be more photography focused. My plan is to create a list of blog topics which will hopefully make it easier for me to blog three times a week.

  • Status: Achieved. I created a list of categories (see refocusing the blog) and have succeeded in blogging about one of them about three times a week… sometimes even four. Overall, I’ve definitely gotten better at the blogging process and improved my workflow. I’ve started blogging ahead of time, prepping them for publishing the night before, then releasing them the next day while I’m at work on my lunch break. Breaking it up like that has made it a lot easier for me to blog more frequently, so mission accomplished!

Goal: Create a client workflow checklist. I have one in my head and scattered throughout various documents, but hopefully this month I’ll have time to get it all into one document so I can make sure each and every client is getting the proper emails scheduled out on a timeline… maybe I’ll get fancy and even set up reminders.

  • Status: Achieved. I procrastinated on this one… I just made it last Friday night. But let me tell you, it is amazing. Color coated, broken out into tabs for different types of clients, and I even figured out how to slant the column titles at a 45 degree angle so each cell is the same size despite the title. I haven’t tested it out yet, but it. is. ready.

Goal: September is going to be an insane month. Every weekend I have at least one event scheduled… one week I even have five (plus I work full-time!). I’m pretty sure I’m going to be a ball of stress that month and won’t have much time for friends/family. So I definitely want to make sure to spend some quality time with everyone in August before I have to chain myself to my computer/camera in September/October. With kayaking adventures, golf outings, triple dinner dates, mini-golf, jet ski rentals, and Lollapalooza already scheduled this month, I don’t think this one is going to be hard to accomplish 🙂

  • Status: Achieved. I feel like this is all I did this month. The month started out with a bang (check outaction packed august) and continued throughout the entire month. Jet skiing on Lake Michigan, relaxing on Montrose beach, catching some of the Air and Water show, BBQs, bowling, mini-golf, volleyball, B-dubs, a night of fun activities hanging with one of my fave girls Sammie, family brunch, hanging with the Hart family in Lake Geneva, and I’ve even started a weekly tradition of having dinner with my parents. I’d say this goal was well-achieved. That’s good though… because I’ll probably be chained to my camera and computer come September, October, and the beginning of November.

Goal: And this last goal is kind of a personal one close to heart. Stop thinking so negatively. About myself, about what others think, and about how I interpret things. I’ve recently been finding myself being so negative about everything and I’m hoping I can turn that around this month.

  • Status: Not really sure about this one. I know I actively tried to think more positively, but I had to be reminded a few times. This one will definitely have to be carried into the oncoming months… and hopefully be something that I practice forever. I can say though, that I have been finding it extremely helpful to repeat the well-known prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s such a widely used prayer that I’ve known my entire life, but it wasn’t until recently that it’s been so clearly relevant to me and everything going on around me. Praying these words and really thinking about the meaning has definitely helped me through a few things this month. So if any of you are going through a tough time, try saying a little prayer… it worked for me 🙂

So, four out of five (ok, maybe three and a half out of five) isn’t that bad. With a crazy next few months coming up, hopefully I’ll be able to finish off this list and achieve some new goals at the same time. Keep an eye out for my September Goals Blog coming soon…


Every now and again, someone randomly goes out of their way to be nice to me. Whether it be an old friend, a classmate from high school, my boyfriend Danny, or a stranger walking down the street, their kindness and generosity never cease to amaze me (and also puts the biggest smile on my face).

Earlier this week, a friend I met at the University of Illinois reached out to me about Jill Tiongco Photography. Karla and I had Speech Communications 112 together our freshman year of college (nearly 8 years ago—yikes!),and we bonded over a semester of writing debate speeches (Topic: Pro Solar Powered Cars, haha) and our love/hate relationship for our TA, Jon. Unfortunately, like many college friends do, we lost touch over the years but managed to remain Facebook friends since then.

Back in July, Karla wrote on the Jill Tiongco Photography& Design Page’s wall saying, “Hi Jill Tiongco! I just wanted to say I love your work!!!! :)”

How sweet was that? So simple. Straight to the point. She probably didn’t even think twice about it. Yet it was so heartwarming. And it gets even better…

Earlier this week, Karla reached out to me again in a message saying that she has been following my work, is such a huge fan, and loves my talent (awh shucks!). She wanted to know more information on my wedding photography packages because she has been recommending me to her friends that are getting married!

The thought that I haven’t spoken toKarla in years, she’s not currently looking for a wedding photographer (yet ;-)), and she is out there rooting for Jill Tiongco Photography makes me unbelievably happy. Not only am I so thankful for her thoughtfulness, but it also reassures me that I am doing the right thing by following my passion. No matter how much I love the photographs I take, there’s always that small (sometimes huge) part of me that wonders if I’m doing the right thing, if I’m any good at this, or if there’s anyone out there that actually likes my photos.

Hearing little comments like Karla’s truly do make me feel so blessed, and help me believe that I can really do this. So Karla, I just wanted to say… thanks.

Back in May of this year, I had the honor of collaborating with eight other fabulous photographers (which we now call ourselves the “Photography Stylistas”) to work collectively on a Stylized Wedding Shoot. Connected, inspired, and motivated by Miss Jasmine Star herself (see throwback post) nine strangers began a journey of hectic planning, unchartered territories, new friendships, business partnerships, and did I mention hectic planning?

In a matter of weeks after meeting for the first time, the nine of us were able to put together a completely stylized shoot on the GORGEOUS (and I do mean absolutely gorgeous) rooftop of Lightology in Chicago. The tiny details, differing personalities, unpredictable Chicago weather, and quick timing of it all came together like it was simply meant to be. Paper goods designed by fellow Stylista Christine Brizendine of Dabble Me This adorned the table tops to add a classy touch. The invitations, place cards, menus, map, and RSVP cards cohesively reflected our gray and yellow theme for the day.

Wedding Details | Paper Goods


Wedding Place Cards and Dinner Menu

Wedding Invitations and Themed Wedding Invites

Beautiful flowers for the centerpiece and bride/groom, trendy succulents for added charm, personalized “Melissa + Mike” straws for the lemonade, wedding bands and engagement rings lent from Ultra Diamonds…

Chicago Rooftop Wedding Table Setting


Wedding Bands from Ultra Diamonds

Personalized Wedding Details | Lemonade Stand

…homemade lemon bars and other adorable treats for the sweets table…

Wedding Desserts | Sweets Table…not to mention our fierce models/real life couple Melissa and Mike Paddock (who by the way, made it so easy to photograph them because it’s obvious they’re so in love), all came together to help each and every one of us create some eye-catching photographs…

Chicago Wedding Portraits

Chicago Wedding Portraits

Chicago Wedding Portraits

Chicago Wedding Portraits

Chicago Photo-Journalistic Wedding Portraits

Photo-Journalistic Wedding Portraits | Chicago

It’s especially interesting to see the different points of view each photographer had that day. All equally fantastic, I’m literally amazed at some of the work you ladies produced … check it out for yourselves…

–          Robyn Schwab (

–          Nina Harwick (

–          Christine Brizendine (

–          Dominique Strom (

–          Zipporah Kapambwe (

–          Jenny Chavez (

–          Keren Sarai (

–          Nikole Burrell Fasoranti (

I’m also so excited to announce that all of our hard work paid off. Our shoot is being featured in the summer 2012 issue of Inspire Smart Success Magazine! Here’s a little sneak peak of the issue…. (I’m the one NOT holding the camera to my face haha, of course.) But more details on that coming soon 🙂

Inspire Smart Success


The entire process was so much fun, was a great learning experience, and I’m so thankful for the Stylistas—not only other photographers, but women I can call my friends. Can’t wait to do another shoot with you ladies!

Stylized Wedding Photographers | Chicago


A very special thanks to all the vendors that so generously donated their time, creativity, inspiration, and opinions to our Chicago stylized shoot. Each and every one of you brought something different to the table and helped make the shoot as gorgeous as it turned out.


Location | Lightology (Lindsay Wilps, Media Marketing Manager & Gregory Kay, Owner)

Rings | Ultra Diamonds

Paper Goods | Dabble Me This – Photography, Design, Painting

Succulents | Culver’s Garden Center and Greenhouse

Cake | Daisy Cake Boutique

Dessert Minis | Whole Foods Market

Florals | Whole Foods Market

Linens/Napkins | Freehling Pot and Pan Co.

Hair  | JR Style Chicago

Makeup | Jenessa Blaine, Certified Makeup Artist

Dress | Melissa of Watters Bridal


Over a year ago, I started a blog section of my website that I am embarrassed to say, did not keep very up to date. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great content in there. Which I’m sure no one had the pleasure of reading since it was tucked away in a pseudo-blog page that I thought would suffice until I was able to upgrade to my current blog.

That being said, I’m going to start pulling some of my favorite posts from JT Photography Blog v1.0. Here’s the first… and an important one at that. The blog post below describes only a sliver of my experience at Jasmine Star’s theFIX at Loft on Lake in Chicago. It was such a pivotal moment in my career. The night was filled with new friends, inspiring stories, and starstruck moments. It was a whirlwind of photography do’s and don’ts… and in the end, helped me decide what I want to DO with my business.

The night pushed me to be more efficient with my time. Inspired me to be confident in my work and value myself with my pricing. Assured me that investing in my business was not only a good idea, but imperative to my success. Since this night, I can honestly say I’ve taken numerous steps towards bettering my business and I’m looking forward to continuing improving each and every day. My current up-to-date blog, new website, more efficient client relations, more focused wedding photography, and investment packages are all a bi-product of this night. But before I get all businessy on you, I’d like to share a funny story….

throwback blog [hi, i’m mortified. nice to meet you.]

After weeks of anticipation and excitement, the day had finally arrived. It seemed like when I bought my tickets to theFIX with Jasmine Star that it was so far away. But here I was, pushing myself to network with other photographers and force my shyness back down my own throat. The day had finally come. For those of you who don’t know, Jasmine Star is like a celebrity to wedding photographers. Literally. I mean the girl is driving around the country on a tour bus selling out city after city, singing autographs and taking pictures with us photo nerds. She is big time. Anyway.

Getting off the expressway and finding Loft on Lake seemed like it was going to be impossible, but it was pretty hard to miss the venue when there’s a GIGANTIC rock star tour bus parked outside the building. I felt my nerves jump and my whole body tense when I saw it. I was about to meet people who I’d been chatting with via Facebook for weeks now, but I was still so nervous.

Luckily, I found a close parking spot just around the corner from the loft and had a minute to gather my thoughts. As I organized my bags (camera, laptop, and purse!) and locked my car, I turned to walk towards the loft and see if there were any fellow photographers waiting to go to the group dinner we had all planned together. Still looking at my feet, I took a deep breath and mentally prepared myself for introductions. Like I don’t know my own name? I have to practice saying where I’m from and how long I’ve been a “photographer?”

After figuring out how to say “Jilllll Teeee-ong-ko” and visualizing myself in friendly conversations with complete strangers, I see a little white dog trotting on the sidewalk out of the corner of my eye. And my heart stops. Anyone that follows Jasmine Star knows what her dog, Polo, looks like. I do a double take, and then slowly, in what felt like an eternity, bring my eyes up to see if is truly, Jasmine Star herself—and then I realize it is. AND JD. Walking Polo. And I freeze.
I contemplate running back into my car and hiding until they pass. Maybe they didn’t see me. Maybe I should go up to them. Maybe I should introduce myself. Maybe I should stop staring. Maybe I’m the only other person on the street and now this is just awkward because I’m staring at them smiling like a freakshow. “No, don’t bother them,” I think to myself. “They’re probably trying to relax and spend some time together before things get crazy tonight,” my mind reasoned. I swear, it was probably only about 5 seconds, but the number of thoughts that ran threw my mind was ridiculous.

So at this point, I’m in the middle of the street walking towards them on the sidewalk. I still don’t know what to do. Clearly they know what a camera bag looks like and that I’m probably there for theFIX. I notice that JD is staring right back at me, and we make eye contact. He has a big smile on his face and looks so friendly. So I smile back, and then I say, “Hiiiiiiiii,” in such a high pitched voice that I only think dogs could hear it. And then here comes the worst part. I keep walking. I awkwardly screech HI! And then don’t even stop and introduce myself. Or say anything for that matter. “Hi, how are you? I’m here for theFIX. I’m so excited for your presentation. I love your work. You’re such an inspiration. Polo is so cute. How are you liking Chicago?” I can think of a billion things to say to them right now, but in that moment, I said NOTHING! Let’s just say I was not expecting to be that star struck and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I turned the corner, saw the first person with a camera bag and said, “I am mortified!” I didn’t even tell this person my name first. Luckily, fellow theFIX attendee and new friend, Erin Knowles was nice enough to help me calm down and pick up the pieces of my shattered nerves.

Despite my shaky start, the whole night ended up being a success. I had a great meal at De Cero and got to chat with some amazing photographers over chips and guac, tamales, and tacos.

I’d say the biggest thing I took away from the event was the importance of meeting new photographers and networking. I made some great connections with some awesome people and have already started to make plans for stylized photo shoots, dinners, and coffee dates.

As for what I took from Jasmine’s presentation… I think the number one thing is to be confident. If I can’t see myself doing something, how am I going to convince clients I can do it? Be ME in everything that I do. Break the mold. Do it my way. Play to my strengths. It’s ok to say no to people who don’t value my services. Oh, and of course, templates, templates, templates!

Jasmine Star | theFIX Chicago

Overall, it was a great experience and I’m so happy I did it. While I regret my little run-in with Jasmine, JD, and Polo, the silver lining is that at least it gave me a funny story to tell her when I chatted her up after the show. She’s even cracking up at how mortified I was.

Wedding Photographers Jill Tiongco and Jasmine Star

She’s so sweet though, she said “Don’t worry, all I’m going to remember about Jill from Chicago is how cute her outfit is and how her hair is all jchhoozed up and fabulous.” ☺

Wedding Photographers Jill Tiongco and Jasmine Star

Wedding Photographers Jill Tiongco & Jasmine Star

Part of the perks of moving out of my parents house and into an apartment in Lombard is that I am close enough to my friends to not only to hang out more often, but to join summer sports leagues. I know it sounds funny, but I feel like I’m getting old. I remember being in high school walking into Great Lakes Volleyball Center in West Chicago and seeing the “old people” (people that I am now the exact same age as, if not older) play in their adult leagues before our club practices were scheduled to start. I didn’t understand why they were still playing volleyball at that age in adult leagues, but now I do.

If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that I was part of my first softball team this spring/summer, El Charros. Simultaneously, a few of us have also been playing in a co-ed volleyball league. We didn’t really know what to expect going into it, but coming out of it I can tell you that it was an absolute blast getting to play volleyball again, such a great workout (especially during those 95 degree days we’ve had this summer), super fun to do something active with everyone (although sometimes very intense since most of us are extremely competitive), and it was even interesting trying to find something new on the Buffalo Wild Wingsmenu to eat every Tuesday night after the games (not gonna lie, I’m excited to not have to eat BWW every Tuesday though).

This past Tuesday ended our season… we lost in the semi-finals to a team called Monstars [Team Chicken Fingers is a WAY cooler name], giving us third in the league. Not too bad since it was our first year and some of us have never played volleyball before. I’m not a huge fan of lining my bedroom wall with “Runner-Up” plaques though, so we’re just gonna have to do better next year 🙂


What do you get when you combine the unparalleled Chicago skyline, uber perfect sunlight, a hilariously animated assistant making the kiddos laugh, and probably the most photogenic family in the world?  This…

This past Sunday I had the pleasure of photographing, for the third time since I started JT Photography, my brother, sister-in-law, and my nephews. If you’re following me on Facebook, you already know that I’m pretty obsessed with these boys in general, but getting to photograph them in my element was 🙂


Our journey started early, leaving my brother’s home in Wheaton at 6:30am. We scooped up my lovely assistant (and long time best friend, Jessica) in Oakbrook, jumped on 290, and were on location by 7:28. Perfectly on time since the shoot was scheduled for 7:30am. For an hour we walked along the lakeshore, played in the sandy beach, and even climbed a lifeguard post; all the while capturing the smiles and laughter along the way. Sharing my passion with the people I love is such a blessing and I am more and more grateful every time I get to do so.

I’m also so thankful that my brother and sister-in-law have trusted me year after year to take their family photos. My family and friends’ opinions mean everything to me, and the fact that they continue to come back must mean they like what I’m doing (or they just want to support their little sister which I’m okay with, too).


I just can’t get enough of these cuties. I can’t wait to look back on the photos I’ve taken of them in twenty years 🙂

To see more photos of us playing around the city, check out the slideshow…


Aug 17, 2012
posted in Friday Funnies. with 0 Comments

Because Jasmine Star’s “Friday Randomness” blog cracks me up, and my cousin Tiffany’s “This Makes Me Laugh” board on Pinterest kept me sitting in my cubicle trying to contain my laughter for a good 10 minutes… I’m spreading the laughter. Happy Friday 🙂

It literally took me 20 seconds to find the cat…


Danny looks at me like this every morning…

This happened to me yesterday while I was at the bottom of the stairs…. Causing me to run up the stairs with a goofy smile of gratitude, trying to hold back my gasps for breathe…

And just because I’m Asian…

Aug 16, 2012

I finally did it. About a week after I moved into my new apartment, before I was able to adjust to paying rent, buying my own toilet paper, and blowing through a full tank of gas in less than a week (when I was used to going almost two weeks without having to fill up)… my beloved laptop crashed.

It wasn’t the end of the world because I work primarily off my 27” iMac, but all of a sudden I couldn’t sit on the couch and work from my laptop. I couldn’t write a quick blog while sitting next to my roommate in the kitchen. I couldn’t leave my room if I had to do any sort of work. I knew I was going to buy another one as soon as the tech guys from Apple’s Genius Bar told me it was toast… but the question was, when would I finally pull the trigger?

I lasted way longer than I expected, but a little over 4 months later… I have a new love in my life. Lookout, Danny 🙂

My new laptop

My new laptop

Does this post count towards the “something I did for my photography…” blog goal for August?


Aug 14, 2012

Last month, I took some photos of my brother’s collectors item BMW. It’s an extremely rare model and he wanted to get some artistic and action shots. So, I did the best I could during the shoot; edited, posted, and blogged like normal; and didn’t think anything would come from it since I am primarily a wedding photographer.

Little did I know how fanatical Bimmer enthusiasts were, which I quickly learned after posting a sneak peek on my Facebook Page as it sparked loads of comments and “likes.” One visitor even offered to help my brother sell the car by posting it on the BimmerFest Forum, and I’m even planning to do a family photo shoot with him come this fall or next spring!

Weeks after the shoot, I’m happy to announce that my photos helped my brother sell his car. Not only am I overjoyed that I was able to do something small to help, but it never hurts when someone compliments your photographs.

Here’s an excerpt from what the buyer said,

“…I did not realize I was interested in buying one of these until I read the ad and viewed the incredible photographs, the photographer should be commended…”

Awh, gee thanks. That just made my day and let’s me know I must be doing something right 🙂

On another note, I gotta stop making this silly face when I shoot…

While I know you all desperately look forward to reading my blog posts about what’s going on in my personal life at the moment (yawn), I’ve decided to tackle another one of my August goals… #2: Create blog categories and [hopefully] stick to them. Since things in the photography world are a little slow for me this month, my blog has been focusing on anything that my life has been made up of these days… kayaking, softball, girls’ nights, etc. Which is all fine and dandy in moderation but let’s face it… I’m not that cool.

Being that the whole purpose of starting a blog was to promote JT Photography and document all the steps along the way, I figured I better start doing just that. So in an attempt to blog about photography when photography isn’t really happening for me this month (which in all honesty I’m ok with because September, October, and November will be crazy so it’s nice to have a break…. The only problem is that it creates an empty void in blog content), I’m creating a few categories that will hopefully become the staples of the JT Photography blog. Something that readers look forward to reading every week, something that keeps people coming back for more, and something that even attracts new visitors 🙂

My overall goal is to blog at least three times a week, in three separate categories. As a safety net, I’m going to create more than three categories, because as August has shown me, some weeks I won’t have any new photo shoots to blog about, or maybe some weeks I won’t be feeling so adventurous.

  1. Personal life/adventures: I’m deciding to keep the option open to blog about my personal life. Because who am I kidding? I am that cool.
  2. Monthly goals/updates: I seriously love this idea inspired by Brittany Bekas Photography. I already am an avid believer of setting yearly goals, writing them down, and striving to achieve them throughout the year. It seems like a no-brainer to set smaller goals every month to hold me accountable for the bigger picture—I just never did it. I especially like this blog post idea because it helps having all of you to hold me to it… and it works, I’ve already had people ask me if I’m working towards my goals in August so, thanks!
  3. Photo Shoots: When I’m lucky enough to have photo shoots to blog about, you can be sure my Facebook Page, Website, and Blog will all have updates, teasers, sneak peeks, and a behind the scenes look into what I do.
  4. For JT Photography: This type of post will include anything that I did that week to better JT Photography. Whether it be attend a photography conference, watch a creativeLIVE session, network with industry peers, update my packaging/branding, or simply look at inspiration photos you’ll hear about it.
  5. Featured Photographers (my inspirations): While I’d like to say that I am a photography genius and create all my ideas from thin air, the truth is there’s hundreds of photographers that I draw inspiration from on a day to day basis. This will be my homage to them. Inspiration photos, motivating ideas, or just simply beautiful work, I’m happy to promote other photographers’ work and maybe even inspire a few others.
  6. Randomness: A quick hitter, I’m thinking this type of blog will just consist of a list things I did throughout the week that I’m either proud of, embarrassed by, motivated by; or things that made me laugh, cry, smile… who knows. That’s why I’m calling it random.
  7. Motivating others by sharing what has motivated me. I love this industry for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons I love it is because of the people that make it. I have never been in such a competitive industry that is so quick to help one another. Fellow photographers who normally would be considered competition have jumped to my side many times to offer firsthand advice, share what they’ve learned from others, or just simply help me out. It’s time I start sharing those tidbits with all of you.

That’s it for now! Ahh… I feel a sense of relief checking off another goal from my August list. Maybe I’ll blog about it tomorrow and say I’m proud of myself for creating this list 🙂

Any other ideas you’d like to see me blog about? Feel free to leave it in a comment! Thanks for reading and hopefully this new structure will help your eyelids feel a little less heavy when reading through my blog.