From time to time, I step away from the standard weddings and engagements to photograph events. It’s always nice to get a fresh perspective on things and sharpen my skills by stepping out of my comfort zone and into something new. Anyone that knows me also knows that I have fiercely competitive side – so this particular event was extremely fun for me to work and by the end of the competition I felt invested in the bartenders competing and had already placed my bets as to who would be crowned the Monkey Shoulder Ultimate Bartender at Brass Monkey in Chicago.
The Ultimate Bartender Competition, hosted by Monkey Shoulder, had seven rounds. A written test with 100 various questions about general bartending knowledge, spirits, and other random tidbits; creating cocktails from the mixiodic table; a nosing round where they had to identify the type and brand of alcohol; inventory round that involved math skills; a pouring round measured down to the tiniest ounce of fluid; a serving round that was kind of like a memory game; and finally a timed challenge where they had to make eight different Monkey Shoulder cocktails. It was a tight competition down to the very last drop (see what I did there?), but ultimately, Noah Roberts was crowned the Ultimate Bartender – congrats and good luck in the national competition! Here are a few of my favorite moments from the night…
Once in a while, I step away from the wedding world and step into photographing events. When I was first starting out with photography, I shot a few events for Hendrick’s Gin. Since then, I’ve shot numerous food and alcohol events, spectacular weddings, and many more fabulous things – yet the parties thrown by Momentum Worldwide for Hendrick’s Gin still remain a favorite of mine. There is never a detail overlooked, or a cocktail that doesn’t taste just right – and my friends over at Momentum and Hendrick’s just know how to get it done.
This event at Gallera Marchetti was every bit as peculiar in the best way possible as the Hendrick’s events have been in the past, and it was refreshing and nostalgic to shoot with them again. Here’s a peek at the fun details and moments I captured at the Hendrick’s Airship Viewing Garden Party a few weeks ago…
Last week I stepped away from the wedding photography bubble that I love so much and did a few mouth-watering shoots for The Tasting Panel Magazine. While I specialize in Wedding Photography, photographing gourmet food, craft cocktails, and pretty-pretty details are a close second… and even overlap a bit into my wedding world. So when the magazine reached out and said they needed a photographer for a Wine Pairing Event, Cocktail Speed Tasting, and Chef/Food Feature… I was all in.
The events took place at the 676 Restaurant in the Omni Hotel on Michigan Ave., and at Coppervine Restaurant in Lincoln Park. The days were filled with creative cocktail creations, perfect pairings of wine and delicious dishes, and panels of attendees with only the most refined palettes. The article is going to run in the May issue of The Tasting Panel Magazine… but here are a few sneak peeks into the deliciousness that I got to experience.
VENDOR CREDIT // Magazine: The Tasting Panel Magazine // Wine Pairing Venue: 676 Restaurant // Cocktail Tasting Venue: Coppervine // Wines: Wente Vineyards // Cocktails: 2Nite Vodka, Deep Eddy Vodka, Real Russion Vodka, Blue Chair Bay Rum, Dryfly Gin, Zignum Mescal, Glass Vodka, Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum
Note from Jill: When Event Planner & Floral Designer, Christine Janda Design and Events, reached out to me about working together, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I’d been following her work at A Perfect Event and keeping a close eye on her personal blog for a while now – and I just knew we’d be a great fit. She’s driven, talented, has a knack for designing perfectly detailed events (hello – my favorite thing in the world!) – not to mention she is a complete sweetheart and a blast to work with. After I photographed this event for her, she even packed me a little goodie bag filled with delicious treats from the party. Anyone looking for an event planner should reach out to Christine immediately – she’s the best and I’m so lucky to have her write this little guest blog post…
From Christine: After Chicago’s treacherous winter I couldn’t wait to design this bright and cheery spring soiree. All for my beloved Godmother, one of the most loving and hardest working women I know was retiring. After a demanding career in engineering it was time for some much deserved rest & relaxation. Party Planning Tip: Let the guest of honor shine in all aspects of the party. From décor, food, favors and more. My Godmother, born in China, has been teaching Chinese for over 20 years. I wanted her culture to shine in a feminine way at her ladies luncheon, not only nodding to spring but a life filled with much deserved R&R. (Her gift, a day at the spa!)
I was inspired by the emerald green Lucky Buddha beer bottles months ago, while on a sushi date with my boyfriend. I just knew these would make beautiful bud vases and went home with a handful of fun new vases (it was one FUN night!)
Springtime means tulips and peonies and I adore the mix of bold emerald with soft textured pink and peach. I designed florals in my mother’s bamboo steamer (over 25 years old) and petite bronze bud vases, treasures I carried back myself from Thailand.
The ladies were welcomed with my Ginger Pear Fizz Cocktail, infused with homemade ginger syrup and topped with a slice of Asian Pear.
Guests found their seat by Fortune Cookie Placecards (DIY on my blog!) placed on top of darling Chinese takeout containers filled with Essie’s new spring line.
Lunch was light and delicious. Asian Red Quinoa Salad, Long Life Noodles, petite Banana Breads, fresh fruit and Sesame Chicken Salad Cups. Dark Chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate drizzled Fortune Cookies and Strawberry and Green Tea Mochi completed the memorable meal.
It was an afternoon to remember, celebrating an incredible woman I just couldn’t live without. For all recipes, DIYs, entertaining inspiration and more, please check out Christine’s blog.
Last year, I shot a 3-night event with Hendrick’s Gin called Voyages into the Unusual at Salvage One in Chicago. It was one of my favorite events to shoot all year, so you can imagine my excitement when they expressed interest in me shooting it again this year. While I love the gorgeous, whimsical, and fairytale weddings that I am privileged enough to photograph… there is still something to be said about switching it up every once in a while and shooting something on the dark side.
This year’s 2-night event was filled with outlandish escapades and adventures of an odd and unfamiliar nature… including quirky Hendrick’s Gin characters, complimentary Hendrick’s speciality cocktails, a monster inside a box handing out drinks, and much more. The style of editing on the photos doesn’t match my normal wedding edits, but in keeping with the Hendrick’s branding – I found it only natural to incorporate a different feel. So don’t worry JT brides, you won’t be seeing your wedding day photos edited like this 🙂
But like I said, it’s always fun to try something different…
Working with Momentum Worldwide always promises to be an interesting night. The events are fun, the people are great, and the drinks are always tasty. I first worked with them last year at the Hendrick’s Gin Voyages to the Unusual event at Salvage One – which if you missed it, be sure to keep an eye out for it this year. See more from that night here. Photographing these events gives me a chance to step away from the world of pretty flowers and gorgeous bridal gowns (which I still LOVE), but they give me an opportunity to expand my horizons and refuel my creative juices.
So when Momentum contacted me to photograph this event at The Barrelhouse Flat – it was an easy YES. Hey Bartender is a documentary film by Douglas Tirola about two bartenders trying to achieve their dreams through bartending. It’s the story of the rebirth of the bartender and the comeback of the cocktail, featuring the world’s most renowned bartenders and access to the most exclusive bars in New York with commentary from Graydon Carter, Danny Meyer, and Amy Sacco.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the trailer here, or scroll down to see some of my favorite photos from the premiere after party.
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 Photography, Brittany 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 Chicago, Deadspin, BizBash, 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.
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.
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…
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 dictionary.com (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…
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 http://bit.ly/V7OiAY. Or read my blog post at http://bit.ly/Sq9f9z.
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…
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.
A few months ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to photograph Hendrick’s Gin Voyages Into the Unusual at Salvage One in Chicago. Not only was this a dream location, but the entire event was beyond anything I could have imagined.
The three night event featured vendors from all over the U.S. conducting a Cocktail Academy the first night followed by a 2-day voyage into the unusual. Bizarre characters, outlandish details, and delicious cocktails took over Salvage One, filling it with nearly a thousand people in just three days.
Special thanks to Shane Stanfa, Producer of Events at Momentum Worldwide, for giving me this incredible opportunity. It was literally outrageous and the most insane event I’ve ever been a part of. It was so great meeting everyone, especially my new videographer buddy Jason Mills of Fine Young Man Productions.
Instead of telling you more about the event… I figured I’d let the photos do the talking.
Want to see more? Check out the full gallery here.