Back in February of this year, I met with Anna + Reyahd at Haymarket Pub in the West Loop. We talked about their wedding planning and my photography over beers, wings, and pizza… (hellllllllo my type of clients!). It felt more like a night out with old friends than a business meeting – and that’s exactly how I like my relationships to be with my clients/new friends. I learned about how they met through a mutual friend… and how Anna got so nervous that she said hi and then literally walked away. Reyahd had to find her contact info through Microsoft Outlook – and thank God for his initiative because it turned out that she was the woman of his dreams. And anyone that knows this couple can see the way that Anna looks at Reyahd, too. Definitely a perfect match!
How many things did I love about this wedding? A beautiful bride and handsome groom madly in love… check. One of my favorite Chicago wedding locations, Prairie Production… check. First Look at a completely shut down only-lit-by-a-Christmas-tree City Hall… check. Intricate details that made the day special and unique to their relationship… check. Every detail embodied Anna + Reyahd as a couple, all the way down to the food – which was a mixture of their cultures as they served Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Chicken Mole and Hummus. Even the dessert bar was special to them. Since Reyahd’s favorite food is ice cream, they opted for an ice cream bar with their favorite toppings.
But even without all of these details that I always adore – I cannot say enough about Anna + Reyahd. Working with them was such a pleasure. The entire wedding party was a blast and reminded me why I love my job. I could go on and on about how sweet, fun, thoughtful this couple is… and have I mentioned they can cut a rug? But I’m just too excited to share these gorgeous photos. Anna + Reyahd, congratulations on your beautiful wedding! I hope 2014 brings you nothing but happiness and love, and thank you for letting me be a part of your special day 🙂
Anna’s mom and sister helped with the DIY ornament centerpieces and her mom even went as far as to buy out all the silver ornaments on sale after Christmas last year! Anna and her sister also got creative by gluing lace and rhinestones to votive candles to give them that extra special detail. And Reyahd even brought his craftsmen skills into the mix by making the table numbers himself by using leftover invitations and adding glitter numbers into silver frames from the Dollar Tree.
VENDOR CREDIT ///
Photography: Jill Tiongco Photography
Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, And Reception Venue: Prairie Production
The end of the year for many is a time for reflection… both good and bad. It’s a time when people look back on the year at their successes, their failures, their growths, their gains, their losses, and hopefully a few lessons learned. 2013 was all of those things for me and more. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little nostalgic looking back at my 2012 recap, favorite 2012 moments, and 2013 goals I set for myself. This blog has become an honest, raw documentation of my life… both professional and personal. And while it’s hard for me to share so many things I hold close to my heart, the reactions and support I get from my friends, clients, and readers that follow my blog make it all worth it to me. Every time a blog post gets a Facebook “like”, or someone comments on what I wrote, or even better someone high-fives me on the street about my blog (I swear, it happened just last week), I’m reminded why I do what I do. My clients respect me on a professional level AND know me on a personal level, and like I’ve said so many times before, THAT’S the type of business I want to run. I’ve been blessed with an incredible client base that wants and appreciates the exact same thing as me, and I cannot wait to see what and who 2014 connects me with.
To be completely honest, looking back on the goals I set back in December 2012 for myself was hard. If you know me or if you follow my blog, you know this was a life-changing year for me. I won’t get into too much detail, but in case you missed it you can read more about it here. Long story short, I am in a completely different place in life now than where I was just one year ago. I am still the same person, yet I am different and learning new things about myself every single day. I’m living in a new city, running my own business full-time, and while I still LOVE (and am kind of obsessed) with my friends I’ve had for years, I’m hanging out with new people and making new friends all the time. I do miss parts of the life I was living this time last year, but I know that girl was dying to be doing the things I am doing today so I am thankful and happy with the way things have worked out.
Here’s what I wanted to accomplish in 2013 and what I actually did.
1. Book 10 weddings. // I shot 12 JT Weddings in 2013 (not including the double digit weddings I second shot).
2. Sell at least 2 weddings albums. // I’ve sold 7 so far, and counting… See what the Fairytale Wedding Album looks like, here.
3. Finalize my business plan and keep track of financials. // I’ve hired an accountant and he’s the man. See ya soon, Barry!
5. Purchase the following equipment by the end of the year: Canon 5D Mark iii, 85mm 1.2L, 135mm f/2, Think Tank Rolling Travelling Bag, and mayyyyyybe a 70-200 f/2.8L. // I bought it all except the 70-200, which I was renting and plan on purchasing at the start of the 2014 season.
Wow. I may have bored you all to death, but I have to admit… writing all of that out reminded me how much I’ve accomplished this year and what I have to be proud of. It all went by so fast that I guess it never really set in until now. 2014 is going to have to be a record breaking year to surpass this one 🙂
24 Goals for 2014
- Book 20 weddings. Yep, I’m going for it. I’m looking to double my goal from last year.
- Do a better job of keeping track of financials and the business side of things. I’m a creative – that stuff puts me to sleep but it’s gotta get done!
- Blog more consistently on a schedule, and hopefully more often than twice a week.
- Improve my workflow. Find a way to edit, cull, and prep the blog more efficiently.
- Network more with other photographers. Be a more active participant in current and new photographer groups.
- Revamp my website and blog.
- Get new head shots taken.
- Re-design and order new business cards.
- Attend a Chicago and destination photography workshop.
- Improve branding packages.
- Read one photography/business related book
- Update legalities, Signature Collection, and a la carte options in contract.
- Purchase the following equipment: 70-200mm f/2.8L, 17-40 f/4L, and maybe a 100mm Macro. Oooooh and maybe replace my 13″ Macbook with a 15″ Macbook Pro.
- Develop a more set work routine, and work from locations other than my apartment, (in other words, shower and don’t work in my PJs everyday – it just has to stop).
2014 will be my first, official full year in business. It’s going to be more of a learning experience than anything, with its fair share of ups and downs… so honestly, I’m just hoping to come out still smiling and loving what I do. If you’ve stuck around this long, I’m impressed. Thank you again for all of your support – 2013 wouldn’t have been as incredible as it was without you. I wish every single one of you the best in 2014 and hopefully we’ll be back here in 12 months laughing at how I just crushed every goal I set 🙂
I have the best clients in the world. Honestly, I have been blessed to work with such incredible people – and I would not be where I am today without each and every one of them. For these exact reasons, I am BEYOND excited to give back to one lucky 2013 JT couple. Starting today and running through the end of the year, I will be running a photo “like” contest on Facebook – and the winner will receive… are you ready… A FREE 2-night stay at Amee Farm Lodge in beautiful Pittsfield, Vermont (Package Value of $600)!
Here’s what it includes:
- 2 night stay at the rustic Amee Farm Lodge
- Deluxe Continental Breakfast each morning of stay
- Gift Certificate to Lunch at Original General Store
- Welcome Basket/Bag from Riverside Farm
- Airfare not included
A little more about Amee Farm Lodge:
Located on scenic Route 100 in the idyllic New England village of Pittsfield, Vermont the Amee Farm Lodge is the perfect Vermont bed and breakfast… relaxed country elegance at its best. The fully-restored post-and-beam farmhouse features 15 deluxe guest bedrooms with wide-planked pine floors, hand-hewn wooden furniture, comfy beds, and private bathrooms with stone-lined showers.
Pittsfield offers an abundance of activities, energetic or otherwise. In this true New England small town there is always something to do. Many folks come to Pittsfield simply to seek out old-fashioned country quiet, savoring the chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, to visit with the farm animals across the road, to gaze in wonder at the brilliant colors during fall foliage, or to stroll through the village green with a latte from our quintessential Vermont general store.
Other possible activities during your stay include: 30+ miles of hiking/biking on the Green Mountain Trails, yoga classes, snow-shoeing, skiing at Killington and Pico Resorts, tubing on the Tweed River, kayaking and fishing at Kent Pond and Tweed River, on-site massages, tours of Amee Farm, and even just relaxing by the fire on the porch at the lodge.
To help your favorite JT couple win this amazing getaway:
- “LIKE” the Jill Tiongco Photography Facebook Page (your vote will ONLY BE COUNTED if you “like” the page).
- Click on the 2013 Giveaway Album pinned to the top of the page.
- “LIKE” the couple’s photo you want to win (your vote will ONLY BE COUNTED ONCE – so choose wisely)
- The couple with the most “LIKES” by December 31st, 2013… WINS!
- Winners will be announced on Friday, January 3rd, 2014.
That’s it! So get to it – vote for yourself, recruit your family and friends to vote for you, or just vote out of the kindness of your heart – either way, there’s gonna be a winner of this amazing trip so VOTE NOW!
When you know, you know. That will forever be theme in my mind when thinking about Kristin and Ryan. First of all, Kristin and I met at a Starbucks that I frequent on Rush and Oak – it may be the comfy booths, the exposed brick walls, the hipster lounge music… okay maybe it’s the fact that they serve yummy flatbreads and wine – nonetheless – Kristin walked in and I knew we’d be fast friends as soon as she sat down in the booth next to me. Not to mention she blurted out within 5 minutes of meeting… “Okay I want you. What’s next?” Straight to the point, Kristin is. She assured me she looked through my site, loved everything I did, and knew she wanted me to capture her and Ryan’s wedding and engagement photos. Gotta love the enthusiasm.
Kristin and Ryan’s relationship started in a similar whirlwind fashion. About a year ago, they met through mutual friends, went on four dates within the first week they started dating… and then moved in together after about six months. Ryan proposed a few months ago with rose petals and candles, and the wedding planning has been moving on its way ever since.
We met for our Friday afternoon Engagement Session in Olive Park. Not gonna lie, it was cold. So cold that you can see the blocks of ice in Lake Michigan behind Kristin + Ryan. But that didn’t stop the happy couple from taking their coats off for a few pics (which I try to help out by letting them snuggle up for body warmth!). They even played in the snow for a few pics at the end sans gloves or mittens – total warriors! I will say that I had to do the same thing the next day at a wedding I was second shooting – and I did not handle it as well as them. Kristin + Ryan, I definitely thought of you guys in that moment and appreciated you even more for toughing it out! I hope you love your engagement photos – I think it’s clear to see how happy you are together. I’ll be honest though, after this freezing e-session, I’m pretty pumped for your wedding in July 2014. Bring on the heat! Until then, I hope you enjoy looking through this session together snuggled up on your couch under a blanket J Oh and ps., Kristin…. I love your dimples. K, thanks.
Sixty-one emails. That’s how many times Laura and I emailed each other over the past year leading up to her and Bill’s wedding day. Not because I’m disorganized and not because she’s a bridezilla – but because we both wanted to make sure every single little detail was straightened out before the big day. And let me tell you, having that kind of relationship with your bride before the big day even comes… it made everything run so smoothly and helped make every step of the day just perfect. From Laura’s parents’ house to St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, to Victoria in the Park for the reception… every single part of the day was special in its’ own way – and I couldn’t be happier for Laura + Bill.
Laura + Bill – you both are not only gorgeous… but were so incredible to work with! Laura I was so giddy to see your dress, fur shawl, hair, makeup, etc. come together – and Bill, my second shooter Brittany may or may have not mentioned how you hammed it up for the camera a little bit during groomsmen portraits – which I was definitely able to see when editing the photos during post-processing 🙂 I LOVE that we did a First Look, too – your excitement to see each other and the expressions on your faces when Bill turned around and saw his beautiful bride – all are things I will never forget. Plus, a first look always gives us more time to take portraits… and with you two beauts – the more time the better! I could have happily photographed you both for hours 🙂 I can’t say enough how much in love I am with how the photos turned out. And by the way, I’m so glad we met at Duran European Sandwiches Cafe back in June (still to this day one of my favorite places I’ve ever met with clients at – the little sandwiches are delicious!). I hope you both love the photos – and I can’t wait to see you again next year at Carrie + Ryan’s wedding (thanks for the referral)!
VENDOR CREDIT //
Wedding Dress Designer: Jasmine Couture from Jasmine Galleria
Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Alvina Valenta from Bella Bridesmaids
Hair Stylist: Jillian’s Salon
Make-up Artist: LG Makeup Design
Videographer: ojo Creative
Florist: Stylish Stems
Cake Artist: Victoria in the Park
DJ: Ultra Music, Inc. (847.640.1153)
Paper Goods Designer: Red Heart Paper Co.
Ceremony Venue: St. Vincent Ferrer
Reception Venue: Victoria in the Park
Last night marked another first for JT photo, folks. After nearly 3 years of being in business, I participated in my first vendor event with other local Chicago businesses. The event was put on by Fatpour Tapworks in Wicker Park, and featured amazing vendors ranging from Natural Beauty Med Spa, Barre Bee Fit, True Blue Salon & Spa and of course yours truly. Awesome items were raffled off, too – free photo sessions, free mani/pedis, a girls night out – and even a Tory Burch tote. It was honestly such a great night – meeting new potential clients/friends, getting my name out there more, and even connecting with some other wedding industry vendors that I’ve already planned to work with in the future 🙂 I will definitely be participating in more events like this in the future so stay tuned!
I also want to send a special shout-out to my ladies for making it out and supporting me throughout this journey of building my business. I say it all the time – but I truly mean it – THANK YOU SO MUCH for being there every step of the way! I would not have had the courage to take the leap without each and every one of you telling me I could do it. Also, thanks to my assistants Becca and Katie for taking some photos and helping me setup/breakdown. You girls are the best and I love you all! Can’t wait to work with everyone I met last night and am chalking this up as another JT success!
December’s Moment of the Month post is a little more personal than some of the other moments in past months have been. Don’t get me wrong – this is a beautiful moment for Laura + Bill. It was right after their first dance as husband and wife and you can just tell they’re so happy together. And I love that. BUT, the reason I chose this particular photo as the Moment of the Month is because it was my first time using off-camera flash at a wedding reception (up until this point I’ve used an external flash mounted on my camera for reception lighting). I recently purchased Calumet’s wireless triggers and umbrella stand (although I didn’t receive the stand yet… my second shooter was kind enough to let me use hers for the evening). I’ve been toying around with the idea of adding some dimension to the my wedding galleries with off-camera lighting – and I figured what better time to do so than with this gorgeous couple. And let me tell you, I’m obsessed with this image. The rim lighting around Laura + Bill, the way it lights up Laura’s hair and just around the edges of Bill’s, even the little starburst below Laura’s chin… it’s just beautiful 🙂 And it was a huge moment for me… trying something new… stepping out of my comfort zone… even after hours of practicing this technique there was still a risk I would mess it up. But the risk paid off and I created an image that I’m in love with. I’m not saying it’s absolutely perfect – but it’s a great start and I’m pretty darn happy with the results 🙂