Neighborhood walks are my favorite. I think it’s the perfect way to capture this time in your lives in a real, authentic way. Most of us aren’t going to live in the city forever, so to be able to capture a neighborhood — streets you walk on everyday as a couple, businesses that you frequent together or even just pass by on a daily basis, surroundings that you see on your way to and from everyday life — to me, tells your story the best. These places might not make for the most obvious, picturesque backdrops – but it’s real life. And each life and story is beautiful in its own way, isn’t it?
This is exactly what we did for Katherine + Mike. The entire shoot was captured at their condo, or within a one block radius. We started with some champagne on the couch, walked to the park where they take their dog, Lily… and literally strolled around the block finding hidden gems and alleyways. It was the perfect way to capture their life together. The only thing missing might have been their favorite greek salads (which they probably got after the shoot)! Katherine + Mike, thanks for trusting me to make random alleys and streets work for the shoot – I think it turned out awesome and I can’t wait for the wedding next year!
Melissa + Jack’s wedding day was one of those rainy Saturdays that you kept hoping the rain was going to let up, but it never did. It stormed all day long – the wind made it feel like it was raining sideways and rain drops just falling heavier and heavier – but Melissa + Jack smiled through it all and with the help of their amazing wedding party (see trolley pictures below) the party never stopped. Our original plan was to shoot at the Lincoln Park South Pond. When the rain made that impossible, our plan B was to go to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which is a covered greenhouse. Well, the rain still somehow made it’s way inside – forcing us to plan C… staying at the hotel. And this is when the rain became a blessing in disguise. Aside from being ‘good luck’ on your wedding day, this particular day of rain forced us to shoot inside Hotel Lincoln and the J. Parker rooftop. It gave us a chance to get something different and unique (and stay dry!). Melissa + Jack, THANK YOU for keeping such a positive attitude all day and being up for anything. Your wedding day wasn’t about the rain — it was about your love for each other, sharing it with your family and friends, and dancing the night away. Here’s to a happy life together filled with rainy and sunshiny days 🙂
VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Morilee | Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Watters | Groom Tuxedo: Tie Bar | Groomsmen Suits: The Black Tux | Hair Stylist: Tina Morales, Three One Two Bridal | Make-up Artist: Casey Dickenson | Videographer: Amor in Motion, Karis Vazquez | DJ: Fig Media | Paper Goods: Christina Sinopoli | Ceremony Venue: St. Alphonsus | Reception Venue: Greenhouse Loft | Caterer: Food for Thought, Lisa Ware
Kelly + Austin met through mutual friends after college. They met at a party, which moved to Homeslice, which is where they hit it off. Fast forward to this summer (three years later) and they found themselves on a sailboat getting engaged 🙂 For their Engagement Session, we decided to go back to where it all started to snap a few pics. Meaningful locations are always my FAVORITE, as it makes the photos that much more special! Kelly + Austin, I had so much fun with you guys during the session, and I can’t wait for the wedding next summer!
The past two years, we’ve tried to start a tradition of camping somewhere new. Last year, we kept it local to Starved Rock/Illini State Park. But this year, thanks to our Southwest Companion Pass, we took our camping trip out west to Colorado to explore Rocky Mountain National Park. No car camping (last year was a baby step for me since I’d never been camping before!). This year, we put everything on our backs and hiked into our campsite – Pine Ridge (about 1.5 miles uphill from this parking lot). I’ll be the first to admit, I was pretty nervous about it – but Dan is a pro-outdoorsman so if there’s anyone I’d follow blindly into the woods – it’s him.
It was pretty cloudy/rainy the whole drive in from Denver, so I was not looking forward to hiking in and setting up camp, but as we parked and got set up to go… the skies cleared (sort of) and this beautiful rainbow appeared. It was the perfect sign to let me know everything was going to be okay.
As we hiked in, we were battling against the dark. Our flight out of Chicago got delayed, so we arrived a few hours later than we had originally planned. We needed to get to our campsite and set up before dark, so stopping for pictures was NOT encouraged by ranger Dan – HA! Good luck not letting me snap at least one pic. And of course since I was taking one, he decided to sneak one in, too.
This was home for the next three nights. It doesn’t look like much, but it was AWESOME. We had the entire campsite to ourselves 🙂 And we lucked out that this particular site had a privy (otherwise we were fully prepared and came with a shovel)!
Yep, this is where we pooped for three days. I know it seems awful, but when I was expecting to be digging holes all weekend – this was a very welcomed LUXURY!
The next day we explored the area near our campsite (actually behind the privy). We climbed up the rocks pictured on the left to enjoy this view and some snacks. After our little break, we hiked up to Ouzel Falls for a light hike. This trail was pretty touristy, but still gorgeous. I’m a sucker for streams and the sound of running water, and I was feeling a little under the weather so this was the perfect easy hike for day 1. The best part was our little chipmunk friend, Alvin, that ate nuts right out of our hands… he later returned to haunt us/steal our trail mix while we were napping in the hammock. This was right before I got stuck and had nowhere else to go…
Then Dan, of course, showed me up and walked across the higher, more dangerous log over the stream (left). Oh, and that hammock was AMAZING. I could sleep in that thing every day of my life. Those smiles are pure happiness (of course, this was pre-chipmunk messing with us and stealing our snacks).The next day we spent pretty much the whole day hiking up to Finch Lake (~8 miles round trip). On the way, we saw a cow and a calf, and barely any people – which was nice. The only people we saw were 3 locals and they were surprised we had found that trail since not many people take it – which is always a good sign to us! It was a pretty tough hike, so we set up the hammock for a little nap/snacks. Photo cred for the picture below goes to a tree branch. I hung up my camera and took it remotely from my phone. I’m surprised it turned out because it was SO windy that the camera was swaying back and forth (note my hair).
Poor Dan is always my photograph muse, but he’s a good sport.
We had such a fun time – I LOVED unplugging from the world and getting back to nature. Can’t wait for next year’s trip! Does anyone have any suggestions?? Leave your favorite camping spots in the comments below and/or hike recommendations… I’d love to hear what y’all are exploring!
My friends Ashley + Nick are just the cutest, and they have the cutest story to go with that. They’re high school sweethearts – first loves that went their separate ways during college and young adulthood, only to find their way back to each other years later (thank you LinkedIn!) and immediately fell back in love. Ashley + Nick, I’m SO SO SO honored to be there with you on your wedding day, not only as your photographer – but also as your friend! I know these photos don’t have the gorgeous beach that you got engaged on, but we sure did have fun – and if nothing else, we at least have the last photo (scroll all the way down).
and this last one because… well, we had to. G and Lucy <3
Lauren + Frank met after college through mutual friends. Earlier this year, they got engaged on their way to see Hamilton. Frank brought the ring with him, and the plan was to pop the question after dinner and Hamilton, but he was so nervous that he only managed to walk halfway to dinner before getting down on one knee and asking Lauren to be his wife, right on the Kinzie St. Bridge. The first person to congratulate them was a cab driver passing by!
Nowadays, they’re living in Wicker Park planning their wedding, sipping wine on their rooftop deck, and getting Shake Shack before meeting with me (and not bringing me any!). Lauren + Frank, it was so much fun spending this time with you before the wedding. Here are a few of my favorites from the engagement… can’t wait for the big day!