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…
This was my third time photographing this incredible Chicago family and while the first two years might have been a slight struggle to get tons of smiling faces out of the little ones… I think the term “third time’s a charm” couldn’t have applied more. It was a bright, sunny day while we played along the sidewalks outside the Adler Planetarium for those iconic Chicago skyline shots… and we even got our feet wet playing on the beach. In fact, the kids were SO excited about taking pictures this year that they were telling ME where they wanted their photos taken!
It’s always so much fun shooting with repeat families, seeing how much the kids have grown over the past year, and getting to catch up with the parents. Thanks to one of my favorite families for giving me that opportunity 🙂 These are just a few of my favorites from the day…
A few days ago, I received the following message from one of my Facebook Page fans.
Hey Jill! I just wanted to compliment you on your photography! All of your images are just beautiful! I was curious how you get such perfect lighting? Do you use speed lights or reflectors, or just get super lucky with available light? Keep up the beautiful work.
First of all, thank you so much to the wonderful person that wrote me this message. Putting my work out there for the whole world to see is a bit frightening sometimes. My work is an extension of me… it’s who i am, it’s what I love, and more often than not, it’s a challenge every single day to share it with people who might judge, criticize, or put me down. So to hear appreciation and compliments from people I didn’t even know follow my work makes sharing my passion with you worth the risk.
Now to answer your question… no, I don’t just get super lucky with the available light 🙂 To be honest, I’ve been in some pretty horribly lit situations and have had to make the best of what I had. It’s something that I have gotten better at over the years… after going to seminars at WPPI, watching creativeLIVE sessions, talking to other industry professionals, and studying what the best of the best do to make it work. And it is still something I constantly struggle with and am trying to improve on.
Being a photographer doesn’t just mean having a fancy camera and putting people in front of a pretty background and pressing the shutter. It involves composition, knowing where your light source is, knowing where to put your subjects in relation to that light, how to properly expose, how to correct that lighting, if necessary, in post-processing, etc. So, in a nutshell… I can’t give you just one answer. Yes, sometimes I use an external flash. Sometimes, I don’t. Sometimes I use a reflector, sometimes I don’t need one. Sometimes I use a tree to block the light and get some shade. It’s all about reading the situation and going with it… and it’s definitely something that is still a work in progress and I’m learning new things about lighting every single day.
Without getting into too much detail and boring all of you to death, I want to share two of the most helpful tips that I’ve learned over the past few years that help combat some common lighting issues. I am in no way saying these are the absolute only answers and I’m sure other photographers have their own way of dealing with these things, but this is just how I work…
1. Harsh, direct sunlight: Put your subjects between you and the light source and use it as backlight. It sounds so simple. But I remember hearing this for the first time at a WPPI seminar and it was like a light bulb went off in my brain. As a matter of fact, it went off in the brain of the person next to me too because we both looked at each other and sighed, “Ahhhhhh…” If you face your subjects towards the sunlight, which is a common way of handling it, everyone in the photo will have squinty eyes… so putting them between you and the sun gives them that blowy, heavenly look that I love so much.
2. Shooting indoors (if you’re primarily a natural light photographer): While some may turn to using artificial lighting indoors, if possible, I like to stick to natural light. Find it where you can… windows, doorways, skylights. Step outside and face your subjects towards you to get the light. Or face your subjects 45 degrees to the window for a softer light on their face. Or use it to create a silhouette. Practice makes perfect so the only way to really see what you like is to go out and do it.
And of course… there are always those days where you just get the absolute perfect lighting and couldn’t love your job more. Thanks for the question and if anyone else has more, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂 Hope this helps!
I first met this little stud muffin when he was just 3 months old. The little guy could barely sit up, so to see him 9 months later at 1 year old… almost walking, muttering almost words, and batting his baby blues at me… oh, it was a treat. His smiles, eyelashes, quirky smile, and the cutest little bowtie ever – all made for an adorable little 1 year old baby shoot. It was a beautiful, warm afternoon that made for the perfect backdrop and wonderfully fun shoot.
I love getting the chance to reunite with past clients… seeing how their lives have changed, how the little ones have grown, and just catching up on what’s new. Thanks to this special family for reaching out to me for their photos again! Check out some of my favorites…
I met Julie, John, and Julie’s mother Kathy at a little place called Cafe Selmarie in Lincoln Square a while back. We chatted and shared a few laughs over lattes as I learned more about their relationship, wedding day, photography wants, and even about a French dish called poutine (basically fries with gravy on top… YUM). I knew I found a JT bride as soon as I saw the excitement spread over Julie’s face as she talked about… not bridal gowns and vintage details (while I do LOVE those things, too), but yes, food. I’m a foodie at heart and definitely love finding that common interest in others 🙂
VENDOR CREDIT ///
Venue | Ravenswood Event Center
Videographer | Smiling Toad Productions, LLC
Florist | Ann Held Florist
Cake Artist | Oak Mill Bakery
DJ/Band | Skip Towne & The Greyhounds
Paper Goods Designer | Quintessence Fine Papers & Gifts
Photo Booth | Traveling Photo Booth
What the heck happened to summer? August snuck past me while I was busy planning a wedding shower, working weddings, going on photo shoots, bumming at the beach, and yes – I even learned to dive and tread water without a life vest. How old am I? Despite these accomplishments, I fell a little short this month of completing my goals – but September is a NEW month and hopefully I can bounce back. C’mon, I just moved to the city and the summer is ending – I had to have a little fun, right?
August Goals Recap
- Blog the new sample album and start showing it to clients during consults. // My new sample album just came in the mail yesterday so I am taking some time today to photograph it. Blog post coming very soon!
- Spend one full-day exploring my new neighborhood with my camera and blog it. // Does laying on the beach taking photos with my phone count? The beach is technically my neighborhood…
- Start waking up earlier and getting to the gym for 8am, 9am, or 10am classes before I start work for the day. // Hey – there’s one goal I accomplished this month. I’ve been good about getting to XSport for classes this month. My new favorite classes aside from the standard Piloxing, Turbokick, or Muscle Max? Nike Training Bootcamp and Interval Training. Talk about a butt kicking.
- Plan a date night to Bub City, Jazzin’ at the Shedd, or picnic on the beach. // Again, does it count as a date if my roommate and I ordered Jimmy Johns to the beach one day for lunch?
- Announce End of Summer Sale. // I started making the announcement for this, but my schedule filled up so quickly that I ran out of time. The End of Summer Sale might have to turn into a Fall/Winter Special…
- Launch sample album blog.
- Get a wedding published in a wedding blog.
- NOT cry (like a baby) when giving my MOH speech at my cousin’s wedding.
- Keep working out 3-4 times a week.
- Start cooking/eating at home more.