August 23, 2013   |   personal, wedding

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Every now and then, I actually get to be a wedding guest. Can you imagine that? Me either.

Because I’m so locked into my roll as the wedding photographer, when our good friends Stephanie and Aaron invited us to Playa Del Carmen to celebrate their wedding, I knew I’d be bringing my camera along. Don’t get me wrong, I was still officially a “guest.” However, the fact that the resort where they were married was adamant about using their “resort photographer” made me realize that it was probably a good idea to have a Plan B. 😉

So, these are the photos I took when the other photographer wasn’t around. And a few during the ceremony I took while tiptoeing around said resort photog. But at the end of the day, our good friends were getting married, and I wanted to be sure they had photos to remember it by.

In any case, I hope you enjoy these very-unofficial-not-at-all-the-wedding-photographer-just-a-loving-friend photos. (What can I say? I can’t help myself.)

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Steph’s mom and sister helped her get dressed.

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Not a bad setting, eh?

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I’ve got to give it to them. It was as hot as… well, you can imagine. But they smiled their way through the ceremony nonetheless.

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Some toasts to start off the reception.

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And then the MOST AMAZING first dance light I’ve ever seen.

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Love this sweet shot of Steph and her dad.

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Although they had already sweated through a full hour of portraits before the reception, I asked Steph and Aaron to run out to the beach with me right as the sun was setting. We only snapped 5 minutes worth of photos, but I’m so glad we did!

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Love these two SO much! Hope they have all the happiness the world has to offer.

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April 28, 2013   |   personal, tips, wedding

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I’m starting a new blog series called “A Look Back,” and I’ll use this series to showcase specific moments or details from past weddings: bouquets, first dances, ring exchanges, etc. And, since it’s a moment that is becoming increasingly popular among couples, I thought I’d focus on first looks for the first installment in this series.

First looks are great–not just for the photographer, but also for the couple. They are great for me as the photog because, usually, having a first look means that we will get extra time for portraits, and the couple won’t have to miss their cocktail hour. In short, first looks provide lots of flexibility in terms of the timeline, and flexibility almost always means better pictures!

For my clients, though, first looks allow them time to really have a MOMENT. And that moment is, at the end of the day, why I think that first looks are such a good idea. As these photos will attest, first looks allow couples to really bask in seeing each other–to have an intimate moment without having to worry about immediately beginning their wedding ceremony.

In fact, I can now speak about first looks from personal experience. When I was married this past June, my (now) wife, Sona, and I decided to have our own. We did a very low-key first look in our hotel room, surrounded by our friends and family. At this risk of embarrassing myself, I’m sharing some photos from that moment. It was, for both of us, one of the most special moments of our lives, and I’m so, so happy we did it. And yes, I cried like a baby. Go ahead and laugh; I can’t blame you.

Bethany from Maypole Studios was our fab photog, and she took the next two images.

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And now, here are some of my favorite moments from first looks at weddings I’ve shot over the past few years.

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April 13, 2013   |   personal

As I type this morning, snow flurries are falling outside. In April. Like, way later than is tolerable.

Just like everyone else in Chicagoland, I’m looking forward to SPRING. However, I’ve really enjoyed the break that winter has allowed. I make an active decision not to shoot too many winter weddings, so this is the time of year when I find myself pulling out the camera gear and dusking off the spiderwebs.

Well, that’s not the full truth. I did have a chance to take my camera out for a spin when we were in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica last month. You all know how much I love to travel; I’m in a constant state of wanderlust. And I’ve been lucky enough to share some great trips in the past (like Charleston, Turks & Caicos, and–most recently–the fab travel blog, Entouriste, featured my photos from our honeymoon in Santorini).

So, I  was thrilled to escape the gloomy Chicago winter and head to the small coastal town of Puerto Viejo. This was our first time in Costa Rica, but I know it won’t be our last. I absolutely fell in love with the place. Here are a few shots to tide you over until engagement sessions (which actually begin today) and weddings (next weekend) make a reappearance.

Let’s all think warm thoughts, okay?

Yep–that’s someone sleeping in that hammock.

A “soda” is a casual cafe. So, you see a lot of signs light this all over Costa Rica. “Soda Johanna” was our favorite in PV!

I loved that these trees had taken over this rusty abandoned barge.

Cacao grows everywhere in CR, and they produce some amazing chocolate there! These toasted cacao beans were turned into the most wonderful hot chocolate.

I’ve never experienced such naturally beautiful beaches before.

We stayed at Geckoes Lodge–an amazing property in the middle of the rainforest. We rented a 2-bedroom house on the property, and the house was completely open to the environment. I’m talking no walls, y’all! I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.

And this post just wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the very creatures that brought us to Costa Rica in the first place: SLOTHS! Meet Velcro–he’s the new love of my life.


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