Archive for December, 2012

Just a little compilation of what the past week entailed of. LOTS of Christmas joy, that’s for sure 🙂

Christmas city date at Hotel Amalfi and Brookfield Zoo Lights <3…


Christmas Party with my girls = TONS of food, sweatpants, multiple bottles of wine, and no makeup (hence no faces in the pics! ha I love us.)

Christmas Eve with my Fam. And no, that is not our child, haha. My nephew just wanted to take a picture with us 🙂 And my other favorite nephew, Carson loves his Peter Pan gift!

Love you guys!


“kids” pic


A while back, Elyce + Dan met at a karaoke bar. Elyce went on stage, started singing Dan’s “go-to” karaoke song – and Dan couldn’t resist introducing himself to the pretty girl that stole his spotlight. And after hours of dancing, singing, and drinking – the rest is history. Fast-forward to December of 2012, and I met Elyce + Dan on one of the coldest days Chicago has seen this year (which for most Chicagoans, we know it hasn’t been too bad lately) but for these two who live in Houston, Texas – it was a bit of a weather change. But, that didn’t stop the happy couple from running around downtown Chicago with me photographing along the Chicago River, under the L tracks, and of course we had to stop by the iconic Chicago Theater – especially since Elyce + Dan are Chicago natives and wanted some photos to remind them of their home town while they’re based in Houston.

Despite the cold weather, I had so much fun during this winter e-session. I hadn’t had a photo shoot since my wedding season ended and I was chomping at the bit to play around with my camera again with real people and not Christmas trees, Christmas cards, and food, haha. Elyce + Dan, thank you so so much for being great sports about the cold weather, being open to shooting in any spot I put you in, but most of all for being your adorable selves the entire photo shoot. Once we got past those early photo shoot jitters, you two couldn’t have looked better in front of the camera… winter coats, hats, “Movember” mustaches and all 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite shots. I’m pretty obsessed with quite a few of them, but you can check out even more photos in the slideshow at the end of the gallery. I can’t wait to shoot your wedding in April!


I couldn’t be happier that my “off-season” comes at a time that should be spent with those closest to you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been so blessed to have more free time to spend with friends that I haven’t seen because of my busy schedule – and I can’t wait to spend the next few days with my family, too!

I’ve had time to decorate the apartment with my roommate…

…enjoyed one too many cocktails with friends in the city, and even got to step onto the other side of things and go wedding dress shopping at Demetrios Brides and Jasmine Galleria with one of my best friends, Sammie. SUCH a fun day!


This truly is my favorite time of the year – but I do think I’m missing playing with my camera… I can’t wait for my Engagement Session this Saturday. Looks like it’s gonna be a snowy one, too! Stay tuned for more on that 🙂

As the year comes to an end and the photo shoots start winding down, I’ve had some time to reflect on what an amazing year it has been. Here are my 12 best/worst moments of 2012 🙂

1. Happiest Moment:

Doubling the number of weddings I booked in 2012 for 2013, and I’m still going! This was a huge milestone and I’m SO excited to shoot every single one of these special days.

2.       Most Embarrassing Moment:

After shooting family formals for about 20 minutes at a Reception, I realized my fly was down – worst part is, my pants happened to have a side zipper, so my upper thigh/side butt was fully exposed. MORTIFIED.

3.       Hardest Moment:

Calling a potential bride that I absolutely fell in love with and telling her that her wedding date had been booked up by my best friend’s wedding (luckily we hadn’t signed a contract yet). The decision wasn’t hard to make at all, as I wouldn’t miss my best friend’s wedding for anything in the world. But telling this bride that I wouldn’t be able to shoot her wedding was a heart breaker. I felt like I was letting her down, and I think that’s one of the worst feelings in the world. Special shout-out to Zipporah K PhotographyBrittany Bekas Photography, and Robyn Photography for being so amazing and working with me to help find a solution for my bride.

4.       Proudest Moment:

Seeing my work published in print and online this year. I was blessed enough to have my work printed in both Inspire Smart Success and Facets Magazine. I’ve seen my event photos published in blogs/newspapers like the RedEye ChicagoDeadspinBizBash, and The Boozy Beggar. It was especially cool when a few of my friends were so surprised to see my name given photo credit in Deadspin that they thought it was Photoshopped.

5.       Biggest Learning Experience:

Second shooting for JordanQuinn Photography and Brittany Bekas Photography in September. September was one big learning experience for me. I purposely scheduled 4 different weddings where I shot along side some other pros in the industry. It was by far the most beneficial thing I’ve done for myself – getting to see how other wedding photographers do things, learning that it’s ok to have fun during the wedding, and just getting more experience really helped me grow as a photographer.

6.       Most Stressful Moment:

When I realized that one of my CF cards had an error halfway through an Engagement Reception, and I wasn’t able to retrieve half of the night’s photos. I definitely shed some tears after this mishap, but was lucky enough to have extremely understanding clients.

7.       Biggest “AHA” Moment:

When I realized I knew how to shoot in Manual Mode. Up until around May, I was shooting in Aperture Priority. Although I had been watching numerous creativeLIVE sessions on shooting in Manual Mode, and read all about it in online forums – I had never actually tried it. Until, one day – during an actual photo shoot (the M&M Stylized Shoot I did with the Photography Stylistas), I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I wanted my aperture wide open, but the shutter speed was too slow, was letting in too much light, and I couldn’t control it in AV mode. Without thinking twice, I switched it to Manual Mode, increased the shutter speed – and to my surprise – it worked! I literally couldn’t believe it. So much so that a few weeks later I had a family session and didn’t think I could shoot in Manual Mode with children – but again, I wasn’t getting the results I wanted in AV, switched back to Manual, and I haven’t gone back since.

8.       Most Influential Moment:

Going to Jasmine Star’s theFIX and hearing her talk about the importance of template emails and connecting with vendors. Both seem like such simple, common sense ideas, but hearing her talk about them pushed me to do it. Both helped me take gigantic steps towards building my business.

9.       Most Hectic Moment:

Probably the week I scheduled 7 shoots – on top of still working full-time 40 hours a week. I’m glad I made it through and I couldn’t be happier with the way the photos turned out, but I’ll probably try to stay away from doing this in the future. 7 shoots in less than a week may not sound like a lot, but it led to months of eating, breathing, and sleeping photography and nothing else.

10.    Most Frustrating Moment:

Being stuck in traffic on 290 at 10:30pm at night for 3-hours after a 10-hour wedding day – knowing I had to get up early for another wedding the following morning. Especially when I was looking forward to a quick 25 minute commute since I thought traffic wouldn’t be too bad because it was so late. Boy was I wrong.

11.    Most Inspiring Moment:

Connecting with other photographers at Jasmine Star’s theFIX, including becoming part of the Photography Stylistas group. The group of photographers that I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with have not only become insanely helpful in offering advice, but they’ve become a support system that I could have not have done without. Sharing all our stories, experiences, tips, and ideas have inspired me to keep pushing to improve my business and have most of all – let me know that I can do it.

12.    Life-Changing Moment:

When I decided I want to pursue photography full-time. When I started a few years ago – it was just a hobby. Now after months of filled with photo shoots and weddings, I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.


Being that in 2012 I didn’t offer printing services to any clients other than brides/grooms, I don’t often get to see the fruits of my labor in print. Sure, I look at the hundreds of photos I take after the family session, cull them down to around 50+, edit each photo, and then post the photos onto my Facebook page and blog (admittedly I look at the blog more than a few times after that either criticizing myself or admiring my work – but that’s another story).

It’s very rare that I get to see what photos the clients actually love. I definitely have my favorites. And sometimes those are the same ones that the clients love… and sometimes they’re not.

But, one of my favorite times of the year is when I start receiving Christmas cards from friends and family – ESPECIALLY when all of the cards I have received feature photos that were taken by ME 🙂 As narcissistic as it may sound, I don’t mean it like that. The reason I love getting these cards is 1.) I love that I have that close relationship with my clients. And 2.) I truly enjoy seeing which photos my clients pick as their favorites… Merry Christmas!

Jill Tiongco Photography | Christmas Card Photographer

When I heard the wedding I was second shooting for Brittany Bekas Photography was sending me to Melrose Park to photograph the boys, I wondered if I’d randomly know someone or if my friends Sammie and Dom (who lives in Melrose Park) would know them. Then I pulled up to the house and saw a familiar face…. Dom’s brother, Anthony.

The day was interesting to say the least. A wedding party made up of 17 Italian men and 13 Italian women… let’s just say it wasn’t a quiet day 🙂 But that’s what made it fun! It was even better when I found out that Sammie and Dom were going to be at the reception. Working with Brittany is fun enough, but to have one of my best friends there, who I haven’t seen in a while because I’ve been so busy just made my night.

Congratulations to Dee and Vito. I had such a fun time photographing you both in the park, and especially Vito in the morning riding around on a Vespa in the alley behind his mom’s house. I love when families make the photographers and other vendors feel like family… make sure we eat, have something to drink, have a place to sit at the table… it makes my job just that much better and makes me feel like part of the family for the day 🙂

Here’s a few of my faves of the day…




One of the biggest things I’ve learned in this business is the importance of networking. Learning from more experienced photographers, sharing the knowledge I’ve gained with newer ones, and making friends along the way has probably been the biggest factor to influence my business.

A few weeks ago, a photographer that I met at Jasmine Star’s theFIX passed along an opportunity to photograph a Living Social Event featuring one of the most dominant defensive players in NBA history, Dennis Rodman. Growing up, I had the cup that changed colors of Rodman’s Hair. My family would host Bulls game viewing parties. I listened to my basketball coach all throughout high school reference Dennis Rodman’s ability to box out and rebound, despite his height of only 6’6″. To say that I was thrilled about this opportunity is an understatement. I cannot thank Jordan of JordanQuinn Photography enough for sharing this opportunity with me. I am so very grateful to have non-competitive relationships with some amazing photographers, whom I’m also lucky enough to call my friends.

The event was held at Arrow on Ogden, just a few blocks from the United Center. It was jam packed with fans so incredibly excited to see “The Worm” himself. He signed autographs, took pictures, chatted with a few fans, and even gave us insight into who was the biggest trash talker in the NBA (answer: Michael Jordan).

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I am so glad I was able to be a part of it. Definitely one of the cooler things I’ve been lucky enough to photograph. I even got to shake his hand. I’ll admit, I was a little starstruck 🙂



The guy with the tatoos, Kris Glenn, drove all the way from Oklahoma with his buddies. They were all THRILLED the entire night. Literally pumped. Everytime I took a picture of one of them with Dennis Romdan they would hug me and thank me for being awesome. Ha, I love people like that! He got his arm autographed and got it tatooed just the other day! The Redeye Chicago wrote a story on it. Awesome, to see my picture in there, too! Check it out here.


Back at it again with all my ladies of the Photography Stylistas! I won’t say much because I’m chomping at the bit for all of you to see the photos, but I have to give special thanks to everyone involved. Our amazing vendors, models, and stylists… NONE of it would have been possible without the hard work, dedication, and talent of everyone who contributed to this amazing stylized wedding shoot.

When we chose the 1920s Great Gatsby inspired theme weeks ago, I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to turn out, but everything came together and I’m proud to say it’s probably one of the coolest shoots/experiences I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of thus far. Everything was absolutely incredible and I just don’t think any words can describe how ecstatic I am about every single image.

Alright, enough talking…. let’s get to the good stuff.

We started the morning with an amazing hair stylist, Jillian; make-up artist, Gigi; and stylist, Whitney. Without all three of them, we could not have pulled off such a successful look. Not to mention our gorgeous model, Noelle, who brought her beauty and grace to our shoot.


Once we got to RPM Italian, it all came together as I started shooting with our beautiful Bridesmaid and handsome Groomsman, and set sights on all the incredible details all our gracious vendors so generously donated.






Florals // Nancy Krause Floral Design & Garden Antiques
Bride Hair Stylist // Jillian’s Salon
Bride Makeup // Gigi –
Stylist // Whitney Middleton Gruber
Venue // RPM Italian
Invitation + Details // Molly Jacques Illustration
Desserts // Biere Chocolates – Chicago
Cake // Kim Smith @ KJ’S Cupcakery
Bridesmaid Hair and Makeup, Groom Styling // Shaun Blythe; Ethan James Salon
Dresses & Accessories // Rent the Runway
Jewelry // Siebke Hoyt Jeweler
Suits // Urban Offering
Headpieces // Carly Reynolds @ 
Mata Hari’s Daughter

Well, it’s a few days into December but better late than never, right? It’s been a record breaking month. My blog reached new highs as I reached over 500 viewers in just one month. I just booked my 6th wedding for 2013, which means I doubled my goal for 2012 before I even set a new one for 2013. I’ve incorporated professional wedding albums into my Wedding Packages. And I even worked an event with NBA star and celebrity, Dennis Rodman (blog post coming this week).

2012 has been a fantastic year of my personal life. But during this month of Thanksgiving, I couldn’t help but think about how thankful I am specifically for the success of Jill Tiongco Photography. Thank you to everyone who has ever said one kind word about my photography. To anyone that has ever given me words of advice. And especially to anyone that has seen me through some of the most high-pressured days of my life.

That being said, let’s see how I did with my November goals:

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.

  • Resuts: Well, I actually just finished editing all of these (including the stylized wedding) before writing this blog post. So I’m going to count this as a victory. They’re not up on the blog yet, but they should all be coming in the next week or so. So stay tuned!

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

  • Results: Achieved!

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

  • Results: Achieved!

November 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).

  • Results: Achieved! Going next week.

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

  • Results: Utah/Vegas blogged. Dee + Vito coming this week – success!

Wow. Until this moment that I wrote all of that out I didn’t realize that I have basically achieved all of my goals for the month. (take a breath). Now, that’s a great feeling of accomplishment 🙂

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, let’s look on to December.

1.) By request of Danny, take one weekend completely off from photography… meaning no editing, emailing, marketing, or anything related to business. Probably going to be the toughest goal of the month for me.

2.) Add all the new album and a la carte options to my 2013 pricing sheet.

3.) Start working out. Seriously this time. This has been in my monthly goals twice and I’ve failed both times. Now that my schedule is opening up a little bit, I’ve got no more excuses.

4.) Finalize all booked wedding contracts for 2013. Right now I have deposits but am missing signed contracts for 3 weddings.

5.) Print a sample album to bring to wedding consults.