Archive for Inspiration

People always ask what I do in the off-season. Do I take month long vacations and adventure to places I’ve never been? Sometimes 😉 But mostly, the off-season allows me to do things for the business that I simply don’t have time to do when I’m busy on photo shoots and editing, blogging, and delivering thousands of photos. One of those things being getting my photos out to other blogs, submitting to magazines, sharing photos with vendors, and entering photo contests. This year, I submitted 50 of my favorite photos from 2015 to The Shoot and Share Photo Contest. It’s is a free contest by shootandshare.com which has 25 categories, some of them including: Just the Bride, Bride/Groom, Wedding Party, Just the Guests, etc. Contestants can submit to any of those categories, and voters can look through all the photos randomly and vote for their favorites without knowing who took those photos.

The Photo Contest is only about the photos; not the photographer, his or her popularity, how many friends or how much money they have. Everyone is a judge and gets a chance to vote. A group of 4 photos is shown and out of the 4 you select your favorite. Then, this keeps happening in random groups of fours in the same category. People vote as much as they want for as long as they want. Each category has a 1st, 2nd, and a 3rd place winner as well as an overall Grand Prize Winner for the contest.

With thousands of submissions, unfortunately I did not place in the Top 3 in any category, but a few of my photos did make the Top 10, 20, and 30% and one of my photos placed 21st place out of nearly 7,500 entries in that category! I’m disappointed I didn’t place as high as I had hoped, but it only fuels me to become a better photographer in the future! Here’s to pushing my limits in 2016 🙂

TOP 30% 

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TOP 20% 

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TOP 10% 

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21st Place out of 7,490 entries

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A few weeks ago, I spent a couple days out of the office to learn from one of the best in the industry – Roberto Valenzuela. I love going to workshops like this because it gives me an opportunity to see things the way other photographers see them. To learn from others. To gain perspective. To keep me on my toes and always keep my creative juices flowing. I never want to stop learning. And I never want to stop pushing myself. What I can do next and what are the steps that will take me there are things that are always on my mind – it’s a personal thing, but most importantly, it helps me give my couples the best photos that I can give them. Not only did I learn about Roberto’s amazing Picture Perfect Posing techniques, but I learned some incredible lighting tricks that I have already incorporated into my last two weddings that, for lack of better words, have blown my mind.

Surrounding myself with other talented photographers not only pushes me to be better, but gives me a chance to make new friends and colleagues as well. Shout-out to all of my fellow workshop attendees – standing up in front of a group of photographers and having to pose/shoot is terrifying, but we all did it – and we’re better for it. HUGE thanks to Roberto Valenuzuela (and Collin Pierson for helping) for putting on a fun 2-day workshop and sharing your insights, experiences, opinions, and techniques.

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Photo Credit (above): Collin Pierson

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JillTiongcoPhotography-ChicagoWeddingPhotographer_0011.jpgPhoto Credit (above): Collin Pierson

 

The fourth installment of my Wedding Inspiration Blog Series is all about the ladies. If you’ve missed the first three posts, I talked about Wedding Dresses, Flowers, and Tuxedos – so head over to whatever part of the planning process you’re on and get inspired. Choosing your bridesmaid dresses is all about personal preference. Everyone wants a different color, material, length, and style. It all depends on the look you’re going for, the theme of your wedding, and the especially nice brides even put into consideration what their girls will look best in 🙂 Choosing a dress that looks great on everyone might be tough. I’ve seen a lot of brides let their bridesmaids choose their own dress in the exact color pallet. I’ve even seen brides lets their ladies choose whatever dress they want in a color that is similar… bringing in different patterns and styles. Whatever you choose – it’s all about what you want. And hopefully this blog post helps give you a better idea of what’s out there!

Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Second Shooting for Ryan Moore Photography (below)Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below-left) Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspirations | Bridesmaid Dress Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

A tuxedo is a tuxedo, right? WRONG. I think it’s easy to assume that the groom’s wedding attire is pretty simple to figure out. Dress shoes, dress shirt, bow tie, and jacket, right? Okay, maybe the time spent choosing a tuxedo pales in comparison to the time future-brides spend deciding on their wedding dress, but groom wear is just as important of a decision – and let’s face it ladies, you want your men looking dapper as ever on the wedding day. While you can never go wrong with the classic choice – a black tuxedo with bow tie – these days, guys are finding a way to spruce up their look and make a statement just as much (maybe not as much, but close) as their bride. Black, white, grey, navy, red, purple… there are so many ways men can make their look unique to represent their personalities, your relationship, and even stay within the wedding day theme. Take a look at a few of the grooms I’ve photographed over the years – and maybe their look will help you find your wedding day style (or help you suggest ideas to your future husband).

Wedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Wedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyWedding Inspiration Series: Groom Tuxedo Ideas | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Did you find this blog series helpful? Make sure to check out the first installment of the Wedding Inspiration Series: Wedding Dresses

 

I shoot dozens of weddings a year. I look at photos of brides for inspiration all the time. Yet, it never fails – the first time I walk into a room and see the bride in their wedding dress – with their beaming smiles and wide eyes of excitement – I get goosebumps. Somehow, each and every one of the brides I’ve worked with has found a way to make their dress gorgeous in its own special way. Whether you’re a lace girl or a princess gown adorer, choosing your wedding dress is an expression of yourself.  It’s the gown you’ve dreamed of wearing your entire life… since you were a little girl putting a pillow case on your head as a veil. It’s so important to find the right one… the one you have to have… the one that makes you cry as soon as you put it on and look in the mirror… not the one that gets all the “oohs and ahhhs” from your girlfriends who are there to help you, but the one that makes the room go silent in awe of how perfect it is.

This blog post is dedicated to you brides out there looking for inspiration for that one dress you wear on one of the most important days of your lives. It’s the first of my Wedding Inspirations Series: a collection of blog posts to help you find inspiration for your perfect wedding day. Of course I just had to start with the dress. But coming soon are inspirational ideas for bouquets, groom tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses, and of course my favorite – wedding details. But for now, go ahead and marvel at these insanely gorgeous gowns (and women) that I’ve been blessed to shoot over the past few wedding seasons. Which one speaks to you?

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Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding PhotographerWedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second Shooting for Brittany Bekas Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding PhotographerWedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding PhotographerWedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second shooting for Brittany Bekas Photography (below)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Second shooting for Jordan Quinn Photography (below-left)Wedding Dress Ideas | Wedding Inspiration | Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

I came into UNITED2014 not knowing what to expect. All I knew was I was going to be reconnecting with my photography family that was born last year at a similar photography conference in Las Vegas, WPPI. Ryan Moore, Rebecca Read, Jordan Quinn – you are all my favorite ding pieces. I can’t say enough about how much fun I had with all of you. The way we help each other, the stupid things we laugh about… practicing empathy and breaking into song at Nardones La Famiglia Pizzeria while making sure to leave no carb behind… my Nail Clippin’ Photogs… I love y’all. And I’m so excited to add new names to this group of photogs I now call friends – Karena Dixon (can’t wait for June!), Jamie Grant, Mycah Burns, Ali Williamson, among many others… I am so thankful to have met all of you! Hopefully we can all work together again soon ☺

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Photo credit (below): Ryan Moore PhotographyJillTiongcoPhotography_0042.jpg

Photo credit (below): Rebecca Read PhotographyJillTiongcoPhotography_0018.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0020.jpgJillTiongcoPhotography_0022.jpg

While UNITED put a lot emphasis on connecting with new friends – they even gave us a card with names of 3 random people we had to hug/take a selfie with – it wasn’t just a conference of photogs running around hugging (okay it kind of was but in an awesome and not creepy way). UNITED was full of incredible photography and business marketing tips like how to shoot in horrible light, how to cultivate gesture and breathe life into posing, how to create a more defined brand, building hot threads on social media… I could go on for days. But on top of all of that was a stronger, reoccurring theme presentation after presentation, speaker after speaker. The messages that stuck out to me were not about the best lenses to use or the most effective way to market to my target audience (although those were great, too). But, the lessons I hope stick with me the most are the ones that can be applied towards life in general and not just my photography business:

I am blessed. I am adequate. I am a photographer with a life outside of photography. My business does not define me. I define my business by doing what I LOVE. Use my gifts to serve others. Live a life of purpose. Redefine success.

Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photographer

To be completely honest, I came into UNITED feeling frustrated. I was comparing my work to other photographers, feeling inadequate, feeling envious, feeling stuck. But after being immersed in a creative environment, shooting everyday, feeling the support of other people who have been through that same mindset and made it through even stronger, learning not to compare my work to others… I left Santa Barbara with a new and refreshed outlook on not only photography, but life. I am chomping at the bit to shoot more. I am incredibly excited for wedding season to start. I am itching to put all the things I learned into practice. In other words, I. Am. Pumped.

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So where do I go from here? Well, if you know me, you know I have a laundry list of things to do. And that I have a list of that list categorized, prioritized, and color coated in order of importance. Branding updates, blog refocusing, workflow improvements, website curating… all of it. But at the top of those lists are these 3 things:

1. Focus on what makes me happy, and in return make clients happier.
2. Be active with the Chicago Shoot and Share group and cultivate relationships with new photographers.
3. Use my gifts to serve others.

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Check back on the blog next week for more photos from the insanely beautiful shoots I did at UNITED2014 – including an offbeat beat bride sunset beach shoot and a gatsby themed trolley ride to a private estate… you won’t wanna miss it.

Once in a while, people remind me how much good there is in the world and it makes me remember how truly kind we can be to one another. I always say I have the best clients – they’re supportive, generous, and never cease to amaze me with their thoughtful words and actions. Well a few days ago, Jena + Anthony proved exactly why I love the people I work with.

For those that haven’t been following my blog/Facebook page, I’ve been running a Vermont Contest for a 2-night stay at Amee Farm. It was such a success and I’m thrilled I was able to offer this to my 2013 clients. Not only was it so exciting to watch the votes tally up and see the leaders fluctuate, but over 600 people voted and my Facebook page received over 400 new fans. It was a tight race that came down to the wire, but Jena + Anthony took the late lead minutes before midnight and finished it out with 175 votes. Jackie + Mark came close with an impressive 170, but it just wasn’t enough to beat their fellow Immaculate Conception alum. All of my couples reached out to their friends and family to vote and I’m so thankful for everyone’s participation and enthusiasm for my first contest ever. But that’s not my favorite part of the story.

Shortly after the contest closed, I emailed Jena + Anthony to let them know they won and inform them of the next steps to book their stay at the lodge. I received the following reply from Anthony:

“Hey Jill, That’s awesome and thank you. However, we want to start 2014 in the right way. Can we give our trip to the married couple, Elyce and Dan? I understand he is in the military and currently fighting in Afghanistan. I read that in a comment. Myself and Jena are huge advocates of supporting our troops and if they accepted the trip, we would be truly honored.” 

And with that, I’d like to announce the winners of the 2013 Vermont Contest – ELYCE AND DAN! I am absolutely honored to give this prize to you, and I cannot think of a more deserving couple. Elyce and Dan, on behalf of the JT Photo family, THANK YOU for your dedication, courage, and sacrifice to serve and protect our country. I am so proud to have been a part of your wedding day and I can’t wait for the two of you to enjoy this little getaway together when Dan gets back 🙂 Congratulations and God Bless!

Jill Tiongco Photography | Vermont Contest Winners | Chicago Wedding Photographer

After hearing the news, a tearful Elyce asked me to share this with everyone…

“I wanted to take a minute to express how truly appreciative Dan and I are for Anthony and Jena’s selfless gift. Dan and I were married in April and have not had the opportunity to take a honeymoon. Dan was deployed to Afghanistan a couple months ago. It has been very difficult for us to adjust to this new way of life. I am so proud of the sacrifices and hard work Dan has put into his service for our country.

We are so thankful for the support of our friends and family. We want Anthony and Jena to know that your kindness has touched us in ways that can never be explained. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This gift will only be topped by Dan’s safe return to us. We hope the New Year brings health and happiness to you and yours!”

 

 

About three months ago, I randomly stopped at my parents’ house to pick up a few things. Being that it was in the middle of the day and both my parents work, no one was home  – and that was no surprise. What was a surprise was, as I was gathering my things getting ready to leave, I saw my dad’s car pull into the driveway with my mom in the passenger seat. I ran to the door to greet them with a surprise, HELLO!, only to find my mom in tears and learn that the reason they were home was because she had just been laid off from her job. My heart dropped into my stomach. To see your strong-willed, near the age of retirement mother in such a vulnerable state is something you never want to see. I truly believe God sent me home that day to be there for her. So I could hug her, talk it over with her, and listen to her tell me how she feels. I was even running later than I had planned, and if I had been on time – which I am 98% of the time – I would have just missed them. everything happens for a reason #1.

Fast-forward three months and my mom was collecting unemployment and looking for a new job. I would often stop by at lunch and see her at the computer – which I assumed she was Facebooking – but she assured me she was searching for a job. A woman just a few years away from retirement – refusing to quit. I often told her, “Just retire… relax… collect unemployment until social security kicks in… just enjoy it.” Yet she wouldn’t listen. She kept looking, kept applying, kept praying…

And today, her hard work and prayers were answered. She was offered a Senior position at a well known bank – and I could not be happier for her. It’s a higher position, with a better boss, at a bigger company, in a department that she is more interested in, at a branch that’s closer to home. win. win. win. win. win.  all across the board. You see, even though she was unhappy at her prior position – she would have never left that job. She had loyalty to that company. She would have stayed there forever. It took her getting laid off for her to be exposed to this better opportunity, and I could not be happier with the way everything worked out for her. everything happens for a reason #2.

To my hard-working, determined mother: CONGRATULATIONS. You deserve every bit of happiness in this new position. I am so proud of you for not giving up, for proving that at 60+ you can still compete with the best of them. I told you to take the easy way out – retire, relax, stop looking for a job. But you persisted. You were stubborn (and you wonder where I get it from??). I am SO INCREDIBLY proud to call you my mother and I hope I have some of that determination in me 🙂

Jill Tiongco Photography | Chicago Wedding Photography | Personal

 

(this picture is a reminder to me to get OUT from BEHIND the camera more often! I barely had any pictures of myself from family parties!!)

On a day where I just can’t get anything right, am feeling frustration coming at me from every angle, just can’t find the motivation to do what I need to do, and feel like I’ve been on the verge of overwhelming tears all day long… I find this article. Thanks, Kelly Powers, for sharing these motivational tips. Read the entire article here, or I’ve highlighted my favorite parts below.

Eight Leadership Lessons From the World’s Most Powerful Women

  1. Stay Determined: The world’s most successful women really want it–and remain determined even in the face of obstacles. They have the skills, and they put the time in. But more importantly, they have the desire to do something great.
  2. Be Courageous: Women at the top aren’t fearless. They move toward their fear to continually challenge themselves.
  3. Think Bigger: “Let’s think of how big this can be.”
  4. Take Calculated Risks: To move the needle, you have to make a big bets—but never rash—always based on a careful study of the outcomes. You have to know what you have to gain, and if you can afford to take the hit if it doesn’t go your way.
  5. Remain Disciplined: It takes discipline to achieve and maintain success. You simply can’t do everything, and the world’s most powerful women stay focused on the areas that will have the biggest impact.
  6. Hire Smart: Surround yourself with people of different backgrounds—including gender, race, geography, socio-economic and personality types—will help round out your conclusions.
  7. Manage Your Career: Look at your career as: Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going, and what are the right assignments to get there?
  8. Delegate At Work And At Home: The most successful women have learned that they have to have help, and they have to have faith in the people around them—at work and at home.

While my back and shoulders hurt by the end of the day from carrying my heavy bag, everything I had in there was necessary and I used at least once. Here’s what I suggest:

Re-fillable water bottle.

It’s a long day and you’re in the desert. Stay hydrated. There’s water stations all over so you can fill-up rather than spending $3+ on water bottles everywhere you go.

 Snacks

I think Ryan, Becca, and Jordan can say that my bag of trail mix (not salt water taffy, Ryan) was clutch. I also had cuties and bananas in there. Those last two seminars of the day (4 – 8pm) cut right into dinner time and it gets a little hard to focus when all you can think about is what you want to eat for dinner.

Notebook/iPad

Whatever your method of choice, being able to write things down was key. Even if you’re not a big note taker, I highly recommend bring something. It was hard for us to even remember what seminar we took that morning. You’re going from presentation to presentation to presentation. At some point it all starts to blur together and remembering something as simple as the album company they recommend can be like trying to remember the exact date of your last doctor’s appointment (I always hate that question).

Camera

I saw people with their DSLRs, point and shoots, or just their phones (what I did) – but there will definitely be things you’ll want to take pictures of. Ummm, hello… we’re photogs. We want to take pictures of everything. But it was even helpful to take pictures of the slides that were too much to write down. Either way, whatever you bring, be prepared to carry it with you all day – which is why I didn’t bring my heavy DSLR.

Business Cards

You meet great people everywhere. In line for the presentations, at the water cooler, in the bathroom, at the tradeshow – having business cards ready to hand out is a must.

I’m sure there’s much more you can bring to make your life a little easier, but hopefully this list puts you in the right direction!