Yu Jin and Jeff’s Engagement Session at the Art Institute of Chicago. When you’re planning for your engagement session in June, you expect it to be pretty hot and muggy. As luck would have it, though, Jeff and Yu Jin (in a sleeveless dress!) showed up in the Art Institute South Garden to find a chilly and breezy evening. And despite the cold, they laughed, smiled, and chatted about restaurants, family, and wedding plans with me as we hiked the short walk from the Art Institute to the luckily empty Buckingham Fountain.It’s always important that our clients trust us when we have them stand in odd locations and not worry about the trash cans next to them.

chicago city engagement photo at night

It’s always important that our clients trust us when we have them stand in odd locations and not worry about the trash cans next to them.

engagement photo under trees

I loved how low the trees were over Yu Jin and Jeff for this portrait.

South Garden Reflecting Pool Art Institute Chicago

I am officially in love with the reflecting pool at the South Gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago

Romantic moment at engagement session

We call this our romance move.

chicago skyline engagement photo

We love capturing skylines in photos, but it needs to be different.

Lake shore drive engagement photo

We love this location along Lake Shore Drive for engagement photos.

Colorful engagement photo

It always helps when flowers are in bloom to add some color to the composition.

couple in chicago skyline

We love the architecture in the Chicago skyline and sometimes make our clients a part of it.

off camera flash skyline photo chicago

Tip for photographers: If you have your couple in front of busy windows and buildings, it’s important that you separate them from the background. Off camera flash can help.

silhouette engagement photo

Part of the fun in doing silhouettes is framing our couple in the shot.

off camera flash skyline photo

Another way to create separation: make the city a silhouette and light your couple with off camera flash.

lamp engagement photo

Sometimes we like add a pop of light behind our couple when they’re standing near a light to give a sense of continuity.

Yu Jin and Jeff, I had such a great evening with you guys chatting and snapping some pics. Thanks for not laughing at me too hard when I dropped my flash. Twice.

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Erin and Ron’s Wedding at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The Palmer House has always been one of our favorite Chicago venues to photograph. Just walking through the entrance and up the marble staircase transports you to 1930’s Chicago. Erin and Ron were looking for a classy and romantic venue for their wedding and they found it. From the enormous gold chandeliers and sconces to the French ceiling fresco, the details could not have set a more romantic stage for a wedding.

palmer house lobby portrait

We love finding new places to take portraits in the stunning lobby of the Palmer House Hilton.

off camera flash with makeup

I really enjoy taking makeup photos, and when time allows it’s fun to add some off camera flash.

wedding makeup by Christy Swain

Christy Swain did an amazing job on Erin’s makeup.

Groom getting ready

Ron made quite the handsome groom.

makeup details

Sometimes we enjoy the little details during makeup.

Groom getting ready

Tip for photographers: Sometimes we find that adding something to the foreground for getting ready photos gives a sense of privacy, as if we’re peeking around the corner at them.

Bride laughing morning

Always make sure the people in your bridal party can make you laugh.

Palmer House Empire Room Ceremony

The Empire Room at the Palmer House is an absolutely beautiful venue for your ceremony and is a decoration itself. The candles added to the romance.

Groom waiting for the bride

Ron couldn’t get the grin off his face as Erin walked down the aisle.

Empire room ceremony palmer house

We usually don’t use flash during a ceremony as we find it too distracting, but this wedding ceremony was super dark. However, a bonus to the Empire Room are the awesome spotlights shining on the bride and groom.

Ceremony candles

Photographer Tip: When you’re working with a dark ceremony, it helps to use what little light exists to add ambience to an image or to frame your shot.

Candles in a wedding ceremony.

There were so many opportunities during their ceremony to work the candles into our photos.

Happy bride.

Erin was one of the happiest brides we’ve ever had.

Happy bride and groom.

When talking to our potential clients, we always make sure they’re thrilled about getting married.

First kiss

While we never work with shot lists (as wedding photojournalists), there are a couple, of course, that we have in a mental check lists to always capture — the first kiss being one of them.

Bride and Groom exit ceremony.

I could not stop smiling during this ceremony, and the same goes for the Bride and Groom.

Palmer House Lobby Portrait

We request that clients who hire us put their complete trust in us to capture awesome photos. This required some cell phone chatting with David and myself from one side of the Palmer House to the other.

Wedding Eskimo Kiss

I often ask couples to do an eskimo kiss. It’s silly and often gets our couples to relax a little if they’re nervous, but in this case we were just having fun.

Palmer House reception entrance.

Photographer Tip: It’s rare that you have the opportunity to get an interesting intro photo and sometimes it requires one of you to get safety shots while the other works hard for just one photo. I did a lot of praying that the bride and groom would be exactly where I wanted them and that no one else would be standing in the doorway when I took this shot.

Introductions Wedding

The Palmer House did an amazing job flipping the Empire Room in such a short amount of time for Erin and Ron’s reception.

bride and groom kissing

It wasn’t difficult to get Erin and Ron to kiss.

maid of honor toast

It’s always important to us to have dramatic lighting for our toast photos.

Best Man Toast

The best man gave a beautiful toast to the bride and groom.

groom toast


Empire Room first dance Palmer House

I genuinely believe that you only need a few candles to decorate a reception at the Empire Room. Erin and Ron felt the same way.

first dance palmer house

We try our best to incorporate the ambience of a reception into our photography, whether candles or uplighting.

candlelit first dance wedding

Photographer Tip: Don’t be afraid to drop down the ambient light in a room to almost nothing during the first dance for some of your photos. It can help isolate your subject and make it look as if they are the only two people in the world.

sparkle wedding dance

We look for existing glass and light to add to our photographs.

father daughter dance palmer house

The father daughter dance is always one of my favorite photos at a wedding.

father daughter dance wedding

You can always tell when a dad couldn’t be happier for his daughter.

Empire room ceiling palmer house

We often shoot upward at our clients during dances to isolate them from the audience, but in a place like the Empire Room it adds so much to the images.

mother son dance palmer house

Ron’s mom looked absolutely gorgeous and was so incredibly kind.

dance floor palmer house

We don’t take our dance floor photos with long lenses from across the room. Where’s the fun in that?

open dancing empire room

Open dancing is always one of our favorite parts of the wedding day.

happy guests at wedding

If you’re a guest at the wedding, get out on the dance floor and have fun!

don cagen orchestra wedding open dancing

Whenever we shoot a wedding and find out that Don Cagen Orchestra will be doing the music, we’re beyond excited. They do an outstanding job and would be an excellent addition to any wedding.

dancing bride

Tip for couples: It’s important that you say hello to your guests, but it’s also important that you have fun and enjoy your wedding. It only happens once.

Palmer House Entrance Wedding Portrait

When possible, we often grab our couple for the last few minutes of our coverage and take them outside for some night photos. We loved using the lights outside the Palmer House.

Erin and Ron, everyone at your wedding, from your Palmer House wedding ceremony to your friends to your vendors, were so amazingly kind and fun to be around. Thank you again for trusting us with capturing your day. Congratulations, you guys!

Location Wedding Vendors. Getting ready, ceremony and reception at The Palmer House Hilton. Event coordination by Tying the Knot. Hair by Brigette Cwik. Makeup by Christy Swain. Flowers by Phillips Flowers. Music by Don Cagen Orchestra.

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Michele and Ken’s wedding at Hotel Allegro in Chicago, Illinois. We feel that having your wedding day at one location – everything from prep to reception, as well as portraits — makes a wedding day go smoother and this wedding at the Hotel Allegro was a prime example. Plus, as a bonus, you don’t have any time wasted traveling from location to location, allowing that time to be focused on documenting the day. We had an incredible time working with these two and their wonderful families. Since half the guests at the wedding were Korean, I was able to throw out a word or two that I’ve learned from watching way way way too much K-Drama (which I have a slight addiction too — currently I’m watching “Oh My Venus”).


Special thanks to Michele and Ken for trusting me so much with their portraits when I put them in odd locations and promised they’d be cool once I added a flash. You guys rock. And of course, thanks for having us be a part of your day. We loved every minute.

Chicago Wedding Vendors. Ceremony and Reception at Hotel Allegro. Event design by Aberdeens Wedding Florists. Catering by Alliance Bakery. Styling by Joanna Santoro, Wendy City Faces and Bella Bianca.

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