May 3, 2011

Ashley & Sunil :: Chicago (Sweet)hearts

It all started with a necklace. Well, that’s not entirely true. It all started with a love affair. Then came a proposal. Then a wedding plan. Then a wedding photographer. That’s where I came in.

Ashley and Sunil are having a Chicago wedding this August. When we decided to shoot another set of engagement photos together, we knew we wanted to go all out. That’s when the necklace came in.

I found this necklace on Etsy. We’d been trying to think of an idea for the shoot–a “theme,” if you will. I saw this necklace and had to have it for myself. Then, after I bought it, I sent a picture to Ashley and knew we had our inspiration for the shoot. From there, it was easy: pop colors and sweets. We picked a color scheme, Ashley emailed me ideas for outfits, and–after finding out how much Sunil loves Sweet Mandy B’s bakery, we had a starting place. After that, the shoot was just like any other engagement shoot I’ve ever done. But the result–oh, the result–is what may be my favorite group of photographs ever. EVER.

So, what makes this shoot so much more special than all of the others? And how can you make sure that your photographs are just as great? I’ll tell you.

1. Have an idea (and “I know a pretty park” isn’t an idea). Call it a theme, call it an inspiration board, call it whatever you want. They all have the same purpose: to give you artistic and visual ideas for the shoot. For any photos you take (wedding or portrait), this will make all the difference.

2. Talk with your photographer. Plan the details. Think about the shoes and the tie and… the necklace! Don’t just show up in your favorite white button-down and expect magic to happen.

3. Invest a bit of money and a bunch of energy. Yes, Ashley had her hair and make-up done by Sonia Roselli’s team. I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t make a difference. She was more confident and more flirty and just look at those lashes! However, the biggest investment wasn’t a financial one. We all wanted a really amazing photoshoot, and we worked to make that happen. We had outfits picked out a month before the shoot. I called the bakery beforehand to make sure we could shoot there. We kept files of inspiration photos to help us when we ran out of our own ideas.  And, even though they cost very little, it took a little thinking and running around to find all of the right props. Though, in the end, the money and effort invested were minimal in comparison to the return: beautiful photos that none of us will ever forget.

4. Finally, work with fun and creative and energetic people. That can’t always happen, of course. But Ash and Sunil are a photographer’s dream. They are the best kind of clients, and–as silly as it sounds–they make me be the kind of photographer that I really want to be.

Yes–we took a break to eat these cupcakes. (Okay, not all of them.)

After cupcakes, we walked around the neighborhood looking for good light (which was most important) and cool scenery.

Believe it or not, the best light is usually in an alley.

I really, really love this one.

Cotton candy on concrete steps? Why, yes. This was inspired by my favorite Ryan Reynolds image.


If you happened to be walking around the neighborhood last weekend and saw a ton of Nerds in the grass, now you know why.


We passed by these stairs three times and waited patiently for the right light.

Last photo of the night.

And because we couldn’t waste all those gumballs.