Ordinarily I go out of my way to not photograph in your every day spots such as the front yard of a suburban home. But in the case of Liz and Steve that’s exactly what we were going for. While I was around in the 1980’s, I certainly was not old enough to be a photographer. In fact I was usually on the receiving end of the lens as many of us were during the childhood years. Aside from the usual photos at birthday parties and family gatherings, I recall being asked to pose in front of pretty trees, fountains, landmarks and many other things that look great on their own, but end up coming out sort of “blah” when you see them as a small 4×6 print. So in the case of Liz and Steve I put together a vision of what an 80’s engagement portrait would look like today.
When someone says the band name “Smashing Pumpkins”, the first thing that comes to mind of course is Renee and Justin’s engagement session in a forest preserve with a big moon in the background! So our challenge that we set out to conquer was a large moon which Renee wanted in the engagement photos. The challenge being to find the location where we should plop this giant moon down! Middle of a busy street? Too easy. Off near a rundown building? Not a bad idea, but that location didn’t jive for Renee and Justin. How about in the middle of the woods where you have to walk over logs, try not to get tangled and avoid all of the mosquitoes? Perfect!
The Drake Hotel is the perfect spot for a Gatsby themed engagement session. It’s not just the style of the hotel which provides a perfect vintage backdrop, but also the sheer volume and size of the hotel which draws you in. Located on the lake front in Chicago, this historic hotel was built in the roaring 1920’s and has been visited by folks including past presidents such as Hoover and Eisenhower, entertainers Liz Taylor and Frank Sinatra, and most importantly by Doreen and Dan who selected the hotel for a portion of their engagement session.
There are places that we’ve all been to countless times that take on a totally different look and feel when they are empty. Imagine a packed music venue with one of your favorite bands playing. There’s a line for the bar, a smidgen of standing room only space on the outskirts of the main floor and the occasional burst of bright light as someone captures a photo of the band on stage. This is normally what it’s like at the Metro Chicago.
It’s inevitable that as a photographer you will end up at the same spots from time to time. The reason that places keep drawing people in time and time again is because there’s something special about that spot that makes folks want to capture it in their memories. Couples sometimes think that it might be too cliche to capture their images at the Chicago skyline, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge or some other spot which is near them. In reality you shouldn’t shy away from those spots. After all if everyone thinks its cliche and skips the spot, then the cliche is really more in skipping a place you would have otherwise photographed at. Which brings us to our engaged couple of Elsa and Roman.
Chicago Winter Engagement
Winters in Chicago mean that many portrait sessions or engagement shoots happen indoors. And while we are indeed toasty (and often well stocked on alcohol) during the shoot, it requires some precision lighting in some dark venues to both capture the images and keep the ambiance of the location. Needless to say that the Green Mill is the definition of dark. Read More
Talk about “make it your own”. Something I tell each couple that comes into our studio. Make it your own. Any time I do a Chicagoland Engagement Portrait, I try to do something different. Each couple has their own nuance and flavor of what makes them a couple. My job is to adapt and capture that in each couple rather than have them simply fit into my style. For Elyse and Don we went to their local watering hole called Brixie’s.
When you think of small bars in the Chicagoland area, Brixies falls right into that category. Not glamorous or jazzed up…it’s a place to come and have a drink all the way up till 4am if you so desire. So we can either avoid the location and go to some of your Chicagoland classics for portraits or we can make it all about what is special to Elyse and Don about one of their favorite bars. We met up around noon on a Saturday just after the bar opened. The goal was to have as few people as possible around and to wrap up before the sports crowd came in for the late afternoon games. It’s amazing how many different nooks and crannies you can find in a given location no matter how simple the layout. There’s a story to be told just about anywhere, you just need to look with an open mind.
The beauty if Chicago is that there are many photographic gems that can be found not just in the city, but also in the surrounding areas. We met up at the Naperville Riverwalk which is a lovely and scenic piece of land in the middle of a not too small town. Their engagement photos began with a slightly more formal look, but we quickly shifted to some more casual clothing to better match the laid back environment of the Riverwalk. We didn’t want to make the shoot just about one part or another such as focusing too much on the river itself, so we wandered around for quite some time and shot in a lot of different locations, some of which you’ll see posted below.
This brings up a good point. Your engagement session is a chance for you to not only pick any location that comes to mind, but to also style it the way you want. When thinking of clothing, take a look at your location and see how you want to match it or not. Maybe you’re not sure what the best choices are? Speak to your photographer or to a stylist ahead of time and plan out the clothing that you will bring with you. Bringing more than one outfit is something most couples do. If we shoot a few frames and then the results aren’t coming together the way we initially planned or if you simply want multiple looks, your clothing change is just a short walk away. In a sense, you can almost change the tone and theme of your shoot entirely with an outfit change. Also keep in mind that if you’re bringing pets with you to a shoot, that sometimes a bit of doggy drool or excessive pet hair may call for a clothing change.
Millennium Park Chicago Engagement
Snezhana and Rob knew that they would not have time during their wedding portrait session to come down to the city because it was being held at Petergoff in Northbrook. Read More
When we’re photographing a wedding or engagement in Chicago one of the things that we go over is the theme and feel of the images that each couple is looking for. Sometimes couples who are happy go lucky want to mix it up a bit and go with a bit more style and glamour while other times it’s all about keeping it lighthearted and fun! Either way the choice is yours and one that should require a little bit of thought. These images will be your memories for years and displayed as albums or photo art in your home, so the question boils down to “What would you like to see?” In fact for the engagement session is the perfect time to put a true theme or style together. Since you have more time during the engagement session it’s a great time to think out of the box. If you enjoy bike riding together, let’s grab some bikes and head to the lake front! If bowling is right up your alley then that’s a great place for us to stage a couple shots…with permission of course.
The one thing to keep in mind is that even if you’re doing a more dramatic themed or styled shoot (something our studio specializes in), it’s still important to capture a few happy shots that truly show who you are. Don’t be afraid to crack a smile or have some fun! Drama might make for some artsy images, but smiles are what make the memories of your wedding photography.