Archive for October, 2012

I thought September was going to be the craziest month of the year… that was until October hit. October was FULL of engagement sessions, weddings, family photo shoots, a senior portrait session, and even a desert adventure for me (blog post on that coming soon I promise)! It was by far my busiest month, and it taught me a good lesson. And by “it” I also mean Danny.

I talk about Danny a lot in my blog. The fun things we do together, the nice things he does for me, the things I’d like to cook for him, but more importantly this month – how he supports me. You see (I think I’ve been listening to Congressman Paul Ryan speak too much with the “You see’s…” but that’s besides the point),  working full-time as a Web Content Manager and doing Jill Tiongco Photography on the side hasn’t been a walk in the park. I often work 80 hour work weeks, sometimes forgetting to take a day off because I really do love working on my client photos. However, when the work piles up because I’m spending more time shooting than the time I have to sit down and edit, it weighs on me—because all I want to do is get to those photos!

Somehow, I set the goal for myself to shoot photo sessions in the morning and in the very same day… cull, edit, optimize, blog, post to the website, market, and burn/mail out the CDs…. All in just a few hours. I can tell you after a few times of attempting this—it was a bad idea. Not only was I missing out on life outside of my business, but I was putting unnecessary stress on myself that no one else was expecting of me, except well…  myself.

This is something I wouldn’t have realized if Danny wouldn’t have slapped me in the face (figuratively, not literally) and made me realize that I was just pushing too hard. It’s ok to wait a day or two before looking at a photo session. It’s ok if a client has to wait one or two weeks get their photos—because if I continued at the pace I wanted, the quality would have been sure to slip, and the attention to detail just couldn’t have remained as keen. Thank you to my amazing boyfriend Danny for being my support system. For being unbelievably understanding and compromising with my hectic schedule. And most of all, for loving the crazy person that I turned into the past two months.

The past two months have been insanely busy—and while I’m so very thankful for every single photo shoot… I’m ready for the season to wind down so I can focus on administrative tasks, tying up all loose ends from 2012 (I originally wrote 2011…. See! I don’t even know what year it is!), and most importantly get back some of my personal life outside my beloved business.

Which brings me to my October Goals Recap and Goals for November.

October Goal: Have all my September weddings edited, blogged, and uploaded onto by the end of the month.

  • HALF ACHIEVED: All but 1. With October being so full, I haven’t had the chance to finish up one of the weddings I second shot. But I did finish everything that I booked for my own business so that’s somewhat accomplished.

October Goal: Workout 5-6 days a week for at least the first two weeks of the month before I head to Utah for an adventure-cation with my roommate. If I don’t, I’m sure the hikes and rappelling down canyons won’t be very forgiving.

  • FAIL. Again. I’m giving up on this until I have more time once business slows down for the winter. And I was right, the hikes in Utah were NOT forgiving.

October Goal: Have at least one date with my girls. I have an Indian food and Champps Restaurant Groupon waiting to be used with my friends Jess and Sam… hopefully we’ll be able to schedule those this month.

  • ACHIEVED: With two of my favorite girls getting engaged this past month (congrats again to Sammie/Dom & Tiff/Mike!), I definitely found the time to get together with them and catch up…. And of course talk wedding details, my fave!

October Goal: Get a 35mm  f/1.4 lens and start shooting primarily with that and my 50mm 1.2 at weddings. I’ll still use my 24-70mm 2.8 for families/kids, but I’m loving the shooting portraits/events with these prime lenses.

  • ACHIEVED: I did purchase a 35mm f/1.4L, and I’ve been shooting my weddings primarily with that and my 50mm f/1.2L. I’ve even done a few family shoots with prime lenses only—which is something I was afraid to do, but I’m so glad I did!

October Goal: Although I love how busy I was this past month and it only means great things for my business, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t stressful at times. If I wasn’t stressed out about doing this right, it would mean I didn’t care about my clients, business, and quality of work. I take it as a good thing that I care so much… but I want to work on not caring so much to the point of tears. This month, no crying because of stress.

  • FAIL: I’m just too emotional all the time. That was probably an unrealistic goal.

Which brings me into my goals for November.

Goal #1: Have all my shoots from October/November edited (with the exception of my stylized shoot with the Photography Stylistas), up on and other social sites, and in clients’ hands before December 1st.

Goal #2: Update/organize my client wedding questionnaire.

Goal #3: Go wedding dress shopping with my cousin, Tiffany. (I’ve been a bad MOH, thus far).

Goal #4:  Make a dentist appointment before the end of the year (a promise Danny and I made months ago to each other and neither of us have followed through as of yet).

Goal #5:  Post/blog Dee + Vito’s Wedding (from September; second shot) and Utah/Vegas Trip.

Wish me luck…. Here’s to one of the last months in 2012!

I met Allie and her mom, Janice at the Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg bright and early on a Saturday morning. It was the epitome of a brisk, October fall day… filled with gorgeous sunlight, flurries of perfectly timed wind gusts, and beautiful autumn colors. Allie and her mom chose the perfect spot to capture Allie’s senior portraits before she went away to college. As Allie and I chatted along the yellow tree lined pathways, bridges across little streams, and even through some tall prairie grass, I shot that gorgeous smile of hers while the sun perfectly lit her glowing face. Even though it was nearly 33 degrees, Allie braved the weather even wearing a dress for a few photos.


As Allie changed into her next outfit, I showed her mom a few photos that we had captured… when she had to stop looking because she was going to cry… I knew I was doing my job 🙂

Thank you so much to Allie and Janice for letting me capture these photos. Allie, you are an amazing girl… so sweet, so caring, so genuine… I know you’re going to do amazing in college while you study Occupational Therapy. And special thanks to Janice for keeping the changing room (car) warm for Allie! It was great meeting you both and I hope you love the photos as much as I do!!

I  briefly met Steve at an Engagement Reception that I photographed back in October of 2010. About a year ago, we tried to schedule a photo shoot, but with our hectic schedules it didn’t work. Then this year when Steve saw the BMW Shoot I did, we threw around the idea of doing a shoot with his vintage BMW. Again, because of hectic schedules it didn’t work. And when we were finally able to schedule a shoot this year, we had to reschedule because his wife’s work schedule changed. So when we finally met at Adam’s Park in downtown Wheaton, I couldn’t have been more excited to finally shoot with Steve, his wife Pauline, and their two ADORABLE kids Emmy and Shaun.

As always, the kids were a little shy to start, but definitely opened up once we started playing in the leaves and running around the park. And it was so helpful that they brought along their sister, Patricia, to be my assistant and help with the kids. It really is the biggest help for me when clients are amazing enough to do that!! Thanks, Patricia – especially for doing the jumping jacks 😉

Steve and Pauline, thank you guys for being so amazing yesterday. You have a gorgeous family and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to photograph you all together. The leaves, the flowers, your beautiful children (who by the way, are a perfect mix of you both!) – I love how it all came together on a perfect fall day.

Personal notes from my brides are the best and put the BIGGEST smile on my face 🙂

When I heard that the wedding and reception was going to be at Gallery 1028, I knew it was going to be a special day. Not to mention I was shooting with one of my favorite Chicago photographers again, JordanQuinn Photography.

I started the day shooting with the gals at Jesse and Ben’s beautiful, floor-to-ceiling windowed apartment in the heart of River North. Gorgeous views, gorgeous gals, and a G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S wedding dress… need I say more?

After I finished shooting the details and gals, I headed over to the Westin River North to meet Ben and the guys before we shot the first look. Purple striped ties and purple socks… awesome details. I also just had to shoot Ben cleaning his glasses since he made sure to tell me that Jesse always makes fun of him for doing it so often. Those little details are what I make sure I capture for clients… meaningful things that only mean something to the bride and groom.


The rest of the day was a whirlwind of love and affection that made it clear these two were perfect for each other.  Did I mention he was surprising her for their honeymoon and whisking her away to Asia? How amazing is that! After we shot the First Look at the Westin and along the river, we all jammed into a party bus and shot at the Lincoln Park Zoo South Pond and the Chicago Board of Trade. HUGE props to Jordan for her amazing skills at taking charge of the situation, posing everyone in the middle of the street, getting her shot in 10 seconds or less, and keeping us all alive, haha. Such a memorable moment and I’m so glad I was there with you to learn how to handle similar situations in the future. And the venue. GORG. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves…


Congratulations to Jesse + Ben! You two were so much fun to work with and were such sweethearts throughout the entire day. The intimate details you incorporated into your ceremony and venue really captured who you are as a couple, and I’m so so thankful I was able to document it all.

Check out more photos on Facebook and like my page to stay up to date on my latest weddings. See Jesse + Ben’s entire gallery, or enjoy the slideshow below.


lead photographer // JordanQuinn Photography

wedding coordinator // kelly cavanaugh, clementine custom events

venue // gallery 1028

catering // calihan catering

flowers // kelly marie uss, fleur

dj // toast & jam

videographer // media parable

gelato // black dog gelato

One of the biggest things I learned from second shooting for JordanQuinn Photography and Brittany Bekas Photography in September, was that I appreciated the direction they gave me when sending me to shoot the guys’ portraits by myself. I knew what I would want to photograph for myself, but when you’re second shooting it’s all about what the primary photographer wants. Having this direction gave me peace of mind and also a better idea of what to focus on (see what else I learned from second shooting).

This inpsired me to create Jill Tiongco Photography Second Shooter Guidelines that give all my second shooters a better idea of what to expect and what I am looking for. The idea is to get us on the same page before the big day so that when the wedding day comes, the second shooter and myself don’t have to worry about each other and can focus on capturing the love, laughter, and tears for the bride and groom. Here’s what I send them… 

Second Shooter Guidelines

First and foremost, I want to thank you for coming along to second shoot with me! I really think we’re going to do an amazing job, and I can’t wait to work together as a team. To make things a little easier on you and myself, I wanted to pass along this information to give you a better idea of what I need from my second shooter when it comes to photos, family formals assistance, etc. Please also feel free to let me know if there’s anything you’d like to gain out of this experience, and what I can do to help make things easier for you!

Just a reminder, if handing out business cards please only hand out cards for Jill Tiongco Photography to all guests, vendors, etc. More on this can be seen in the attached contract. It’s all pretty common sense, but I just wanted to reiterate to make sure we’re on the same page 🙂

Now down to the important stuff. Below I’ve listed some guidelines to help you throughout the day. I am fully confident that you are going to do an amazing job – that’s why I hired you! I just wanted to give you some direction so you know what to expect and you know what I’m looking for. But please don’t forget to have fun and be creative in your own way, too!

Groom/Groomsmen Portraits: As you can see on the timeline, you will have the sole responsibility of photographing the groomsmen. All I’m really looking for are a few shots of the groom getting ready by himself, groom getting ready with the boys, details (bow tie, boutonnière, cuff links, shoes, etc.), candids of the groom/groomsmen hanging out/laughing, and some group formals if you have time. I’ve included a few sample shots of the style of photographs I like, but of course feel free to use your own judgment and eye!

{photo credit above: Zipporah K Photography}


Wedding Ceremony: Positioning for the bride/wedding party entrances will be more of something I’ll need to assess once I see the ceremony location, so let’s make sure to discuss where we’ll be before the ceremony starts. As for throughout the ceremony, a good rule of thumb is to try and stay opposite of each other, but always being mindful of being in each other’s shots.

Family Formals: This can be one of the craziest parts of the day, and we’re usually under a time crunch! To make it easier on us, I like to do as much prep work before the wedding as possible. Attached to the timeline I sent you is a list of the family formals we’ll need to get, which includes names of family members and relation to the bride/groom. While I’m shooting the first photo, I’ll need you gather the people that are needed in the second photo on the list; and so on and so forth. Sometime it’s helpful to grab the maid of honor or best man to help you point these people out. This is really crucial in getting through family formals quickly and efficiently and moving us onto (my favorite part!) the wedding party portrait session.

Wedding Portraits: Depending on the timing throughout the day, I may or may not have you shoot the groom/groomsmen portraits while I shoot with the girls. We can discuss that the day of. If/when you are shooting with me, I’d love it if you could grab different angles on the shots I’m taking. Side angle candids with shallow depth of field are my favorite! Also, I really love detail shots of just the bouquets, shoes, or any other details when I’m shooting the entire group of girls. Feel free to take the girls bouquets and shoot details if I’m shooting the bridesmaids without their bouquets. I’ve included a few examples below.

{photo credit above: Katrina Mather of BMK Photography}

Details: Sometimes I may not have time to shoot details, and I might send you to shoot pre-ceremony/cocktail hour/empty reception room while I shoot portraits. This will be decided day of, but I wanted to include some examples of detail shots that I like. Again, please use your own creative eye as well, especially since I love seeing what my second shooters come up with on their own 🙂 Bonus: If you can get a few “action” shots of me shooting with the bride/groom that’d be great as well!

Reception: The same suggestions about details and mirroring each other apply here. But, we’ll have a little more time to talk about everything in person at this point. Just take note of the timing of the events in the timeline I sent.

As for sharing your images, if possible, I’d like to transfer them over to my laptop before you leave for the night. That way you won’t have to worry about culling/editing. If we don’t have time, you can always upload your images to DropBox, or you can send me a CD. Please have all images to me within three days after the event.

Once I have posted my blog, full client gallery on my website, and Facebook album, you can go ahead and use the photos you took for your own purposes (website, facebook, blog, etc.). I will let you know when you can go ahead and do so (usually after 4-6 weeks). Please make sure to mention you were second shooting for Jill Tiongco Photography and link to either or when using the photos. And of course I will do the same for you on any photos I use of yours 🙂

One last thing, please make sure your camera is set to the correct date and time. If possible, I’d love to meet up in the morning to sync our cameras (this will make it easier in post to sort by Capture Time).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I can’t wait to work with you and hopefully this gave you a better idea of what to expect!

Yesterday, a photographer reached out to me after just shooting the D.C. Hendrick’s Gin event, similar to the one that I recently shot in Chicago. Apparently the promotions company that handles the account had mentioned they liked my photos (HOORAY!), and he sent the following email…

Hey Jill,

My name is (we’ll say, *Matt*), and I just shot a Hendrick’s event here in DC.  They mentioned really liking the shots you took at their event in Chicago, and I was hoping you could give me a little insight on the actions you used on those pictures and anything else you did to touch them up.

If this is uncouth, let me know, but any help would be appreciated.


After looking up “uncouth” on (I’m a photographer, not a wordsmith!) I was beyond excited to share my knowledge with another photographer – like so many other photographers had done for me over the past year. I’ve built my entire business by learning from others. Learning what is industry standard, studying other’s workflows and adapting it to work for me, applying new techniques that I’ve read about in photography forums. Yes, I put the work in and my vision is my vision, but I apply everything I’ve learned to create something that is completely Jill Tiongco Photography. I realize Jill Tiongco Photography wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of all the photographers who generously offered their experiences to me. So why wouldn’t I happily pay it forward? Here’s how I responded…

Hi  *Matt*,

I’m happy to help! I’m a firm believer that we as vendors need to stick together in this industry and resorting to purely competition shows more inadequacies than strengths. I hope the information below helps and if there’s anything else I can do for you in the future, please don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

 I’m not sure what the light situation was like at the events in D.C., but here’s what I did at the Chicago events.

 I shot at 500 ISO, using a Canon 420EX pointed upwards (occasionally pointed downwards at the ground to bounce the light up underneath the character’s faces to create a more mysterious, eerie look), at about a 1/250 to 1/320 shutter speed. I primarily shot during the event with my 24-70mm 2.8L (in hindsight, I wish I would have used a 35mm 1.4 during the event), and I also shot details with a 50mm 1.2L.

 As for post, I wish I could give you a set of actions that I used, but I manually created a look that I liked, applied to all the photos, and adjusted if necessary. Here are the basics of what I adjusted using Lightroom 4:

–         Exposure, contrast, post-crop vignette

–         Increased clarity more than what’s “natural” looking, also increased luminance

–         Decreased saturation about 25%

–         Sometimes added slight grain

That’s really all I can think of right now. If you have questions on any of this, please feel free to follow-up.You can also see my photos from the Chicago Hendrick’s Events at Or read my blog post at

Good luck and I’d love to see your photos when you’re done.


And although his response was short and sweet, I think he was delightfully surprised and appreciated it…

Hey Jill,

This was by far the most helpful email I have received in a very long time.

Thanks for the help!

I’m so glad I could help him, and in case any of you want to see the photos that were produced using the techniques listed above, you can check out my blog post from the Chicago Hendrick’s Events, or see the full gallery here.

You know it’s going to be a great day when you show up and you’re essentially wearing the same exact outfit as your lead photographer. Great minds, right? It doesn’t stop there. That same shirt we were wearing, also happened to be the exact color of the wedding party. Yep. We matched. Perfectly. And the same can be said for Julie and Jason.

On the beautiful fall morning of September 18th, I was lucky enough to be second-shooting Julie and Jason’s wedding with the amazingly talented Jordan Quinn Photography (more on what it’s like to be a second shooter here). I first met Julie when Jordan and I arrived at Suzanne Denee Salon, and she was immediately so warm and sweet even though she didn’t have an ounce of makeup on and her hair was still in curlers. She managed to maintain this calm and collected facade all the way through hair, make-up, arriving at The Herrington, and putting on the dress… right up until she read Jason’s letter. It was in that moment that she shed a few tears that I truly saw her excitement to be marrying her best friend, Jason.



A few minutes later I met Julie’s best friend and soon to be husband, Jason, when I knocked on the boys’ hotel room door to take a few pre-ceremony pics of the guys. When one of the guys offered me a beer and a different guy introduced himself to me as Jack (since my name is Jill, get it?), I knew these boys were gonna be a blast to work with and so fun to shoot.


The gorgeous wedding day was filled with infectious laughter, tears of bliss, great music provided by Modern Day Romeos, unique dance moves, and so much more. Julie and Jason, even though I don’t know either of you that well, it is so apparent you two are absolutely perfect for each other by what your family and friends have to say about you, your playful interactions with each other, and the kind hearts you both share. I would wish you a life of happiness and love together, but I know you’ve already got that one in the bag 🙂


Jordan, thank you so much for letting me tag along on their special day. You were the to work with, and it was such a great learning experience seeing a true pro in action. And to the bride and groom, thank you for being so kind and generous on YOUR special day. It’s people like you that make my job so enjoyable and push me even harder to document every special detail on your wedding day.


To be quite honest, I was a little nervous about this wedding. Not because I didn’t think the couple would be amazing or that I wasn’t uber excited to shoot with my favorite photog buddy, Brittany Bekas Photography, but because of what I had just gone through ten hours prior.

The day before Jenny and Nate’s wedding, I photographed Jesse + Ben’s Chicago Wedding. Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE what I do. Wedding photography is EXACTLY where I not only want to be, but NEED to be. The adrenaline rush of photographing a wedding day is indescribable and incomparable to anything else. And trust me, I have a lot to compare it to. Jumping out of a plane, scuba diving in Key West, chasing a sting ray in Mexico, ziplining through mountains in Colorado, white water rafting in the Arkansas Valley… I’ve done it. But there’s something about photographing a wedding that is exciting in its own way.

I need to capture the tiny details, the candid emotions, the sobbing flower girl that won’t walk down the aisle, or the single tear of joy that rolled down the groom’s cheek when he first saw his blushing bride. And while I love every single minute of it, at the end of the day it. is. exhausting. But somehow I never really realize how tired I am until I’m packing up my camera bag to go home after the reception. Which brings me to the night before Jenny + Nate….

After finishing up a 12 hour wedding day, I packed everything into my car and headed home. It was about 10:30pm at night so I figured I’d be home around 11pm… giving me plenty of time to sleep before the next day’s events. That was until I got onto 290 and realized it was gonna be a while.

Twooooooooooo longggggggggg hourssssssss later, I finally walked into my apartment absolutely defeated. 290 had been shut down for a car crash investigation which left anyone heading outbound to either be stuck like sitting ducks or if you were lucky, get directed to local roads. I was not a lucky one, and was stuck for over two hours that I filled with frustrated tears (the last thing I wanted to do was sit in traffic for two hours after a 12 hour wedding day), numerous phone calls to anyone that I thought would want to chat (no success), obnoxious singing to whatever was on the radio, and I think I even put the car in park and took a 2 minute nap. Eventually I made it home, and let’s leave it at I woke up the next morning with my cell phone in-hand, open to the screen to set my alarm… which I never got to (luckily I woke up naturally with plenty of time before Jenny + Nate’s wedding).

Like clockwork, I got ready for wedding #2, picked up my Tall Non-fat Dirty Chai Tea Latte (yes, I’m that girl) at Starbuck’s on the way, and made my voyage to the Eagle brook Country Club in Geneva. The whole car ride there I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day. But once I got there, something amazing happened. Adrenaline. Adrenaline carried me through the detail shots, through meeting Jenny and her bridesmaids, through photographing Nate and his groomsmen, through the ceremony at First Baptist Church of Geneva, through the wedding party and bride/groom portraits, and through the reception (which thankfully Brittany was nice enough to let me go home early given my excursion the night before).

You see, no matter how tired, upset, exhausted, or hungry I am… wedding photography pulls me through it. In all honesty I probably could’ve pulled an all nighter before this wedding and been ok with the amazing views, super fun wedding party, and breathtaking bride/groom. I think the photos speak for themselves….



Special thanks to Brittany Bekas Photography for hiring me on to shoot this wedding with you. Just like we figured it would be, it was so much fun to work together and I can’t wait to see how our businesses grow TOGETHER over the next few years 🙂 And to Jenny and Nate, congratulations on your new life together. Not only did I appreciate your love and respect for each other, but I especially admire your relationship with God and the important role he plays in your lives. God bless and here’s to a happy life!