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I’m a little late to the game on this, but 2017 was an INCREDIBLE year. I’m a big believer of reflection, and taking the time to look back through some major moments to reminisce, learn, and laugh before moving on to the new year. Here’s a look back through the year’s highs and lows, and what I’m looking forward to in 2018 🙂

To start, I don’t think I’ll ever look back on 2017 and not remember NEW ZEALAND – the trip of a lifetime. The people we met, the food we ate, the incredible sights we saw… it was like a dream. Even looking back at the pictures now, they look fake.

Above: Lake Tekapo… just driving these winding roads with the incredible sights was my favorite. Every turn was something new and even more gorgeous.

Above: our favorite little cafe, I’m not even sure what it was called but it was between Mt. Cook and Queenstown and it was so good we ate there twice.

Above: the view of Mt. Cook from inside the lodge. Mt. Cook was my favorite place on earth. This tiny little town, surrounded by nothing but mountains.

Meghan (to the front desk): “Ummm, our cable isn’t working.

Front Desk: “Yeah, that’s because we’re in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mountains.”

Meghan: “Oh, okay thanks. Bye.”

Taking a ski plane to the top of this glacier, and then hiking around it tied to a bunch of strangers was hands down one of the coolest things I’ve ever done – and might ever be. I legitimately thought I was going to die on the tiny little plane (it was super windy and we were flying through peaks so the wind would take control of the plane every time we came around a corner). But it was SO worth it.

Bungee-ing in Queenstown – bucket list item ✓

There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe this trip (see more of what we did on the blog at http://bit.ly/2k3MsT6). But I am thankful for the incredible time we had, Meghan’s great company (Cuba 2018???) – I just can’t say enough about New Zealand other than, I want to go back NOW.

To come back from New Zealand after three weeks of being gone was bittersweet. I obviously didn’t want to leave all of NZ’s beauty behind, but it was nice to be home and not living out of a suitcase, of course wonderful to see my boyfriend and cat (I missed them so much!), and I also knew I’d be packing my bags again in just a few days and heading to Telluride for our annual ski trip.

This annual ski trip is one of my faves that I look forward to every year. ALWAYS a good time being surrounded by mountains with some of my favorite people! Next up in just a few weeks… Whistler! After Telluride, it was back to reality. It was great to be home and spend some time with family, friends, and of course get back to work photographing my 2017 couples!



This time at home/back to work also reminded me that I don’t have to travel the world to be filled with happiness… my housewarming party was incredible (we filled the condo with 45 people!), doing Chicago things, being Godmother to my nephew, Evan, Chicago street fests, concerts in the park… all was so much fun and in the comforts of my own city.

And when I wasn’t playing, I was working with the sweetest couples…

above: Zach and Worth got engaged over Fourth of July weekend!!!! Lots of work, sprinkled with trips to the cabin, a quick anniversary trip Charleston with Dan… oh, and did I mention a Seattle/Alaskan Cruise? Thanks, Granny!

And then I came home to more incredible weddings filled with firsts…

above: I’d never seen a bride/groom do the full dance from Dirty Dancing before (btw – they NAILED it).

above: I’d never had it completely downpour an entire wedding day, and beggggg Hotel Lincoln to let us shoot on their rooftop before it opened.

above: I also hadn’t shot at the Field Museum before – and it did not disappoint. It. was. EPIC. And of course, in between weddings and work – I filled it with being silly around Chicago/Northwoods with my loves.

Another first for 2017, I’d never been to Denver twice in one month, but most importantly, I’d never backpack camped in the mountains – I was super nervous, but with the help and guidance of Mountain Man, Dan – we made it 🙂 We even came back to Denver for a night to check another bucket list item off the list: see a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater.


I also made it out to Philadelphia for the first time to photograph my cousin, Tiff’s Maternity Photos:

The fall was filled with tons and tons of shoots. I was busier than ever (it’s a good thing!), and come November – photographed my last two weddings of the year. I couldn’t have ended it better, Nikki + Grant felt like old friends – and Jen + Tyler ARE friends and I got to celebrate with them during Cocktail Hour/Reception while my associates took over 🙂

above: if you can’t tell by my face in the picture above – Jen + Tyler’s wedding was one of my favorite nights of the year! Then came December – which was filled with lots of time wrapping things up for the end of the year, focusing on time for myself/friends/family, and most of all – just doing things that made me happy. These things included: bowling, seeing the Acrocats, getting in the holiday spirit, holiday parties, and lots and lots of cheese and booze.

What a great year it was! I know I missed a ton – one of my resolutions last year was to take less photos and be more in the moment… which was good and bad. I definitely got to live in the moment a little more, but I also don’t have as many pics to look back on so… I miiiiiight try to take a few more pics in 2018 😉 But really, my favorite moments of the year, and of life in general – are usually the moments that aren’t ‘photograph worthy,’ but are the moments that are often overlooked. The quiet moments that were unplanned, the ones that just come together organically – and sometimes the ones where nothing is going on at all. I know for a fact I was pretty darn happy when it was just myself, Dan, and the two cats sitting on the couch. OH! How could I forget – 2017 also brought us a new kitty! Hence, I said TWO cats on the couch. We were/are fostering a cat to help out her owners who just had a baby, and in the middle of us fostering the owners said they didn’t want her back 🙁 So, we’re currently trying to work that out – she’s the sweetest cat but we’re waiting to see how she settles in with our Boyd – because if you know him, he’s a little rambunctious.

Anyway, some key moments that weren’t photographed/mentioned above but definitely have a place in my heart for 2017: Dan moved in. My mom retired. Dan and I got a shared workspace for DMH Woodwork and JTPhoto. Our condo is making progress. Ate some amazing dinners: Giant, Girl and the Goat, Au Cheval, BLVD, Scofflaw, Wasabi just to name a few. Plenty of game nights filled with Blokus, Cranium, Codenames, Slap Jack, Yahtzee, Boggle, Speed… so many good things.

Phew! 2017 – what a fun year. Now, time to look forward into 2018. Sharing goals is scary. It holds you accountable, it makes you vulnerable, and it makes it real. And as much as some of you probably don’t care – here I go:

  1. Finish the office/studio. My goal is to start hosting clients/shooting there by the end of February. Fingers crossed!
  2. Stay active, eat healthier. This is the first time I’ve actually started to notice myself getting older. I need to be more mindful of what I put into my body, and make sure I’m staying strong, healthy, and active.
  3. Finish the spare room in the condo. We recently made some big progress on this, but now the finishing touches!
  4. Knock out the fireplace/redo the living room.
  5. Redo my website, upload more recent photos from 2017.
  6. Hire more associate photographers.
  7. Branch into more studio photography: products, portraits, branding, etc.
  8. Put myself first (not all the time, but more often).

I could add two more goals to make it an even 10, but those would be arbitrary – and I want to focus on achieving these specific goals – not list out two more just because. If you’re still with me this far (I’d be surprised if you were), thanks for reading. I knew I wanted to write this blog for a few reasons. I wanted to write it to make sure I went back over the past year and remembered all the great things that happened. I think these days it’s easy to get lost in a world of comparison, being envious of what others have, ya know – the grass is greener mentality. But, I always want to be thankful for what I’ve been given. That being said, I of course had my share of downs this year, cried many tears of stress, anger, frustration, jealousy – nothing and no one is perfect. But when you choose to focus on the good and be thankful for that – life looks pretty great. And this little 2017 wrap up helped me remember why 🙂 I also wanted to share this blog/peek into my life for future clients – if you’re newly engaged/looking at my work – there are TONS of talented photographers in Chicago. Forget paging through hundreds of my galleries – you like my work? Great. Now let’s connect on a different level. Here’s to every single one of you making 2018 one to remember and filling it with things to be thankful for.

Where do I begin with these two amazing people? Caitlin + Phong live in D.C. Caitlin’s family is from southern Michigan and Phong’s family is from Vietnam, so when choosing a place for their wedding, they landed on Chicago as a central and easy(-ish) destination to get to for everyone, and it also happened to be where Caitlin + Phong took their first vacation together. Being a photographer himself, Phong was very particular when it came to choosing his wedding photographer discovered me on Style Me Pretty. After chatting on the phone with Caitlin + Phong, the stars aligned and brought this wonderful couple to me.

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with us on their wedding day – but instead of hiding under the cover of the pillars at Union Station, Caitlin + Phong decided they wanted to brave the rain and see what we could do along the Chicago River. And let me tell you, their courage and ability to roll with the punches all day long enabled us to get some of the best photos of any wedding – rain or shine. Caitlin + Phong, thank you for being so kind and positive on what could have been a frustrating and stressful day because of the weather. Your hearts were so full of love for each other, did you even notice it was raining? Hope you love the photos and love married life even more.

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VENDOR CREDITS // Photography: Jill Tiongco Photography | Venue: Adler Planetarium | Officiant: Jamar Walker | Florist: Steve’s Flower Market | Hair & Makeup: Diem Angie Nguyen | DJ: Phil Szaflarski, Manna Music | Cake: Dairy Queen | Lighting: Elegant Event Lighting

One of my favorite perks of the job is that it allows me to travel. I’ve been able to visit  some amazing cities over the past few years for work – Portland, Santa Barbara, Colorado Springs, and even some places for personal adventures – Barcelona, Florence, etc… but still – New York City was at the top of my list of places I had never been. So when my California based clients Mil + Kris asked me to meet them there for a photo shoot, YES was the only word that came to mind. One of my good friends that I travel with a lot, Krista, had never been either – so I dragged her along with me for a little girls weekend getaway 🙂

Despite being under the weather, we definitely made the most of our jam packed weekend. Here’s what we did during our 3 1/2 days in the Big Apple:

Friday // We arrived super early on Friday morning, and the first thing we did was drop off our bags at our TINY, and I meant tiny Air BnB. It was supposed to be a one bedroom, but really it was the smallest studio I’ve ever seen. It made my studio in Chicago seem like a mansion (which was kind of nice to come home to!). It was definitely our first confirmation of rumors that we’d heard about New York apartments being small. It didn’t bother us too much though, as we knew we’d be spending most of our time out and about the city. We spent the afternoon wandering around different neighborhoods, making a stop along the way at Ess-A Bagel for lunch. I got the Lox on an Everything Bagel with Scallion Cream Cheese. It was delicious (see photo below). After that, we went to the 9/11 Museum and spent over 3+ hours there, reliving the horrifying moments from our memories, and hearing some heart wrenching stories/voicemails from people that were in the towers and/or on the flights. It was such an emotional couple hours… my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that was involved. After spending hours in the museum, we were exhausted from our long day, so we ended our first night at a little Italian restaurant in our Murray Hill neighborhood…

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Saturday // Our second day in Manhattan started bright at early with an 8am shoot on the Highline and Grand Central Station with Mil + Kris. It is so beautiful up on the Highline, I definitely recommend it for anyone visiting the city for the first time and looking for a great place to run/walk take in some views. After the shoot, we brunched at this adorable place down the street from our apartment called Penlope. I had an amazing bacon and egg sandwich, which kept me fueled for our long walk through Central Park. It truly was massive. Krista and I spent the afternoon exploring the park, watching some Rec League Softball Games, as well some Little League Games. After a nice relaxing afternoon – the weather was perfect by the way – Krista and I made our way to Madison Square Park to get a Shake Shack snack… only to find out that it was closed for renovations 🙁 Don’t worry though, we got our fix at another one and Krista got to try her first Shack Burger! So good – if you haven’t been, head over to the one in Chicago (get there right at 11am to avoid out-the-door lines)… in my opinion (and I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this…) Shake Shack holds the #1 spot in my heart, yes… over In-N-Out Burger! A quick regroup at our apartment and we were back out the door to check out Times Square, where it was super crowded and gave me anxiety. We followed that quick stop at Times Square with dinner at Barbetta. The food wasn’t the greatest, but it was near the theater where we were seeing the Lion King – and I will say that the people watching at this establishment was some of the BEST I’ve ever experienced. I would probably go back just for that 🙂 After dinner we saw the Lion King – which as expected – was fantastic. The costumes, performers, and production was incredible… and of course you already know the music is great!

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Sunday // As you can tell, we pretty much jammed everything we could into each day. So being that I was pretty sick (and still am recovering actually), when Sunday morning came… I could barely peel my eyes open. But we knew we had to make the most of it – so we went to the Brooklyn Bridge, watched some street performers, walked across it, saw Lady Liberty from a distance, and got some NY style pizza at Grimaldi’s before heading to see the Mets Game in Queens. Our seats at the game were right behind home plate and the weather was pretty much perfect – so it was a great afternoon 🙂 That night, we went to dinner at Blue Smoke BBQ (SO GOOD!), went to the deck of the Empire State Building, had drinks at a speakeasy above Five Guys (super cool spot), and ended the night at a midnight comedy show at Comedy Corner. Let’s just say it was a 3am night and by the end of the show – everyone in the room knew I was Filipino, from Chicago, had a boyfriend at home, and was in NY with my “white friend, Krista.” Our seats were directly next to the stage, so needless to say – we got called out A LOT. My face hurt after the show from laughing so hard. Definitely recommend checking that place out!

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Monday // By the time Monday came, we had pretty much checked everything off our list of things to do. It was the first and only day that it rained while we were there, so we took advantage of the weather and gave ourselves a nice, chill morning breakfast at a place called Mud, and sat at a Starbucks and read until we caught our flight back home.

In the end, it was an AMAZING trip. I got to see and do everything I would’ve wanted to do – thanks to the awesome planning of my girl, Krista. The weather was great for the most part, I got to experience New York City… but I will say that it definitely made me LOVE Chicago a little bit more 🙂

I met Sarah + Greg near the gorgeous columns of Chicago Union Station so that we could still shoot if it started raining. Like many days this summer, it was scheduled to downpour on the afternoon of their engagement session, so we wanted to have a backup plan since Sarah and already gotten her hair and makeup done that morning for the shoot. Lucky for us, the afternoon ended up being absolutely PERFECT, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. We started at Union Station and then walked down to one of the many Chicago bridges to get some river/architecture shots of this great city.

Sarah + Greg were in such good spirits… constantly laughing with each other, flirting, kissing, joking around with me… making the session one of those afternoons that is just so fun and reminds me why I love what I do so much. Sarah + Greg, I loved working with the both of you, and I can’t wait for the wedding in November! Anddddd… I kinda love that you chose your wedding date based on the fact that the Bears and Packers both happen to have a bye that week. Meant to be? I think so.

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Chicago Union Station Engagement Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco PhotographyChicago Union Station Engagement Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

I’ve been sitting on a plane for about four hours now, about halfway back to that same old place, sweet home Chicago. If you’ve been keeping up with me… you know that for nearly the past three weeks, I’ve been hopping all over Europe… from Ireland to Switzerland to Italy… and many places in between. I brought my camera along with me to tell most of the stories for me, but I’m going to try and say a little bit about each city I visited… knowing that no words can give my experiences true justice. With 8 cities conquered in just under 3 weeks… there are LOTS of pictures and LOTS to share, so I divided up the trip into three different blog posts 1.) Dublin, Madrid, & Barcelona, 2.) Paris, Zurich, Bern, & Lenk, and lastly 3.) Florence, Rome & London. Feel free to read what you’d like, or even just scroll through the pretty pictures 🙂

Dublin // The incredibly talented Alaina Bos Photography was kind enough to invite me to stay with her and show me around town for my day in a half in Dublin. I arrived at 5:15am, and in that hour before arriving Alaina’s apartment: someone told me I looked like Michelle Obama, I rang the doorbell at the wrong person’s house, I thought a cab driver was trying to steal my phone, I walked in circles around Alaina’s block looking for the wrong address, and then had that same alleged thief cab driver find Alaina’s correct apartment for me and not charge me a dime. Dubliners, you are the BEST. It was a quick stay in Dublin, but Alaina and I managed to see most of what the city had to offer on the Hop on Hop off Tour Bus, did a tour of Kilmainham Gaol, I ate my first corned beef boxty at an Irish Pub, tasted samples of four different kinds of Jameson, and met my European travel partner, Cari, for fish and chips before shipping off to Spain. It was the perfect start to the trip, especially since everyone spoke English, and I can’t thank Alaina enough for opening up her home and giving me some of her time! Can’t wait to see you back in Chicago!

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Madrid // After a quick flight to Madrid, Cari and I entered a whole different world that was softened by the beautiful, smiling face of my old college roommate, Jessi. Jessi has been teaching English in Spain for almost a year now and was sweet enough to let us stay with her for the night before we went to Barcelona. First of all, it was GREAT catching up with Jessi. She was such an awesome host and tour guide, but most of all it was so much fun just hearing her stories and sharing laughs over wine and tapas. We only had about 24 hours in Madrid, so we filled our time with wine, patatas bravas, tortilla, croquettes, visited Buen Retiro, made friends with peacocks, saw The Palace, ate at Mercada de San Miguel, and saw as many tourist sights we could fit in…

Barcelona Wedding Photographer | Chicago Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

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Barcelona // This was going to be the first European city that Cari and I were left to navigate on our own. We weren’t sure how it was going to go given that it was a foreign country and neither of us were fluent in the language (although we both had a basic understanding of Spanish). We were a bitttttt nervous, but somehow it all worked out! We also had an extended time here, about 4 days… so it was nice to settle in a bit and spend some time exploring all parts of the city. We spent our days drinking sangria, eating delicious tapas at Café L’Academia, touring La Sagrada Familia, walking La Rambla, shopping at La Boqueria, doing a food/wine tour which then turned into a crazy night out with the awesome group and tour guide (and new Spanish speaking friends), traveling outside the main city to a small beach town called Sitges, eating fresh paella, watching the USA vs. Portugal World Cup game at an Irish Pub with our new friends, and touring Park Guell. By the end of our time in Barcelona… I was obsessed with only speaking Spanish (even to Cari), had eaten enough jamon iberico to feed an army, and was quite ready for some cooler temperatures.

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Barcelona Wedding Photographer | Chicago Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Barcelona Wedding Photographer | Chicago Photographer | Destination Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

Next on the blog // Paris and three Swiss Cities: Zurich, Bern, and Lenk.

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to second shoot for my good friend, Rebecca Read Photography… in one of my favorite states, Colorado. The anticipation leading up to this wedding was nothing short of spectacular, so when the tornado sirens sounded and the skies were filled with cloudy shades of grey, my heart was broken for the sweet, sweet couple – Dan + Kate. Luckily, they didn’t let their dreary wedding day affect their moods and were happy to simple say, “I do,” to the person of their dreams. Here’s a little peak into how beautiful a Denver wedding can still be, regardless of the sun shining or not. Special thanks to Spruce Mountain Ranch for being so awesome, too.

Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Spruce Mountain Ranch Wedding | Denver Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

After having to reschedule because of this unpredictable Chicago weather… I finally got to shoot Jackie + Matt’s (I mean Mark, Matt, Mark, Matt, Matt… ahhh #photogproblems – when two of your couples almost have the same names, it takes about half the session for my brain to adjust) Naperville engagement photos. The day couldn’t have been more perfect… the sun was shining, it wasn’t too hot and not the tiniest bit cold – just one of those days that reminds you why we live in Chicago and put up with the harsh winters and so-far chilly start to the summer. Jackie + Matt (I think I got it now!) brought along their lively dog, Moose to hop in some of the pictures as we captured their cuteness all over the Naperville Riverwalk. After shooting along the iconic Naperville bridges/river, and hitting up some shady tree areas, we took the shoot over to Quigley’s for a few beers and more casual shots. It was such a perfect afternoon and I have been dying to share these photos with everyone. Jackie + Matt, thank you for being so awesomely beautiful and fun to work with. I loved hearing your story, which may or may have not included a wife beater tank top and a 40 oz. (we’ll leave that one up to the imagination), and getting to know you guys a bit better. I can’t wait for the wedding in December and I’m so glad we had this chance to work together and hang beforehand!

Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography
Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography
Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography
Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography
Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography
Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography Naperville Riverwalk Engagement Photos | Quigley's Pub Pictures | Chicago Engagement Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography

A lot of my clients ask for suggestions on where to shoot Engagement Photos, so I figured I’d put a little post together with my suggestions for you! These locations can also be applied for Wedding Day Portraits as well! I always like to encourage couples to think of a place that has some sentimental value or meaning to your relationship. Any parks/trails, urban area, farms, or even your favorite coffee shop are all great ideas. Here are a few I’ve done around Chicago to give you a few ideas. Take a look, and hopefully you get a feel of what you like and are looking for. I’m also open to new locations, too!

YOUR FAVORITE HANGOUT/NEIGHBORHOOD // 

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City Winery Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography City Winery Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography City Winery Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Molly's Cupcakes Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Molly's Cupcakes Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Molly's Cupcakes Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

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OUTSIDE THE ADLER PLANETARIUM // 

Adler Planetarium Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Adler Planetarium Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Adler Planetarium Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Adler Planetarium Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

Adler Planetarium Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

MILLENNIUM PARK // 

Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

LINCOLN PARK ZOO SOUTH POND //

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Lincoln Park Zoo South Pond Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography
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Lincoln Park Zoo South Pond Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

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 OLIVE PARK // 

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Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

JillTiongcoPhotography-ChicagoWeddingPhotographer_0079 Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

JillTiongcoPhotography-ChicagoWeddingPhotographer_0072 Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Olive Park Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

CHICAGO UNION STATION //

Chicago Union Station Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago Union Station Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

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CHICAGO RIVER & LOOP AREA // 

Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Chicago River, Chicago Loop Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

 

KINZIE STREET BRIDGE // 

Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco PhotographyKinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography
Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography
Kinzie Street Bridge Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOARD OF TRADE // 

Board of Trade Wedding Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography Board of Trade Wedding Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos | Chicago Engagement Photos Location Ideas | Jill Tiongco Photography

 

 

DESTINATION ENGAGEMENTS (additional JillTiongcoPhotography-ArizonaEngagementPhotographer_0010charge may apply) //

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A FEW OTHER SUGGESTIONS // Art Institute Gardens, West Loop, behind RM Champagne, Promontory Point, Oak Street Beach, Lily Pond at Lincoln Park Zoo, Montrose Harbor… I also love getting new suggestions! I also think the most personal sessions can be shot in your home (if there’s natural light) or just walking around your neighborhood 🙂

Hope that helps get you an idea of what your photos can look like… Also, if you’re also trying to figure out what you can wear to the session… here are my tips: When it comes to what to wear – I’d say it’s more about personal preference and what you want to see in the photos, but there are a few suggestions that I can make. I think basic works best. Solid colors, simple patterns (nothing too distracting), classic combinations, and comfortable clothing are always a safe bet. Something that reflects who you are – something you would normally wear. You are free to bring more than one outfit, but please keep in mind changing time, how you’ll carry everything around, etc. Head over to a separate blog post on engagement session outfits for some examples: http://bit.ly/1mkIwLy

I’m backpacking through Europe in less than a month (whoa!)… and of course I’m super excited about the incredible, once in a lifetime photos I’m going to be taking every step of the way. But, I was a little concerned about carrying my Canon 5D Mark iii everywhere with me since we’re going to be walking pretty much everywhere, I’ve heard to be very weary of thieves, and not to mention that sucker (+ 3 lenses) is HEAVY. So, I toyed around with the idea of purchasing and bringing a Fuji X100S – since the quality is almost comparable and it’s much smaller/lighter and can fit in my purse. But, before making the $1000+ decision, my good friend Ryan Moore was kind enough to let me borrow his to test it out. And I figured what better way to test out the camera I’m considering touring Europe with, than using it to be a tourist around these parts. Sooo… off to Chinatown I went!

I wasn’t really sure what to expect in Chinatown. It’s a part of Chicago that I hadn’t been to (or if I had, it was when I was just a child and I don’t remember). But I jumped on the Redline to Cermak-Chinatown and just walked around town for a bit soaking it all in. I explored a few of the gift and grocery stores… which actually brought me back to my childhood. I always went with my parents to similar food marts for Oriental food products they couldn’t get at a regular grocery store… so the aroma and little trinkets that might seem unappetizing or meaningless to some, were especially nostalgic for me. I even picked up a few of my favorite childhood treats for the road… Pocky Sticks and Dried Mango 🙂

Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography

I  ended my little adventure at Yan Bang Cai after reading rave reviews on Yelp! I had heard mixed reviews of some of the more popular Chinatown stops so I decided to stop here instead. And I’m so glad I did because my waitress was super friendly, it was quiet and not overly crowded like some of the other restaurants I had passed, and totally had that hidden gem feel. I decided to go authentic and order the Fu Qi Fei Pian (cold appetizer of thin beef slices – common ingredients in the modern version include beef heart, tongue and tripe, and a generous amount of various spices – in chili sauce served with steamed rice). And as scary as it sounds, it was DELICIOUS. It was almost see-through thin, and the sauce was super  spicy with tons of great flavor.  To add even more nostalgia to my day, the people seated behind me were a Filipino family with a little girl and they were all speaking Tagalog. Naturally, I spent the majority of my lunch eavesdropping on their conversation trying to see how much I could understand… the verdict: I got the general jyst but could use some practice 🙂

Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography

Chinatown Chicago | Jill Tiongco Photography

To get to the point… the reason for this adventure and blog post… the camera. Well, as you can see it does take great photographs. It was super light – I barely knew I had it on my shoulder – and it was so easy to fit in my purse. I struggled a little bit with the settings since I’m so used to my Mark iii, though. I also wish I could have shot a little wider (it is basically a 35mm)… which I’m sure I’m going to also want while traveling through Europe. But it really was so convenient not having to carry such a heavy camera and lenses. BUT, long story short… I think I’m going to suck it up and carry my Mark iii, 35mm, 50mm, and 17-40mm through Europe. I figure these are going to be once in a life time photos – some of which I may get large prints of to display in my home – and I’ll want the best photo I could have taken. Years from now, I’ll look at the beautiful photos and I’m sure there will be plenty more for me to remember than how much my back hurt from carrying such a heavy bag 🙂

 

Jackie + Mark have been part of the JTPhoto family since their beautiful fall Engagement Session back in October of 2012.  Their May 2013 Wedding was every bit of gorgeous and one of the biggest parties of the year! So it only made sense that we follow up one year later to celebrate their 1-year anniversary. It was heart-warming to see one of my favorite couples again… and witness that they are every bit as in love (if not more) as they were 2-years ago when I first photographed them together! To top it off – they even brought me a super cool eternity scarf with vintage cameras on it… if you know me – you know scarves are right up my alley. But a surprise gift for no reason at all? There’s probably no better way to make me smile 🙂 It’s couples like this that make me love my job more and more every day.

And to make this Anniversary Session even more special, they brought along a new addition to the family – their 3-month old puppy, Chipper. The four of us had a little picnic at Wheaton’s Danada Farm… complete with champagne, flowers, and doughnuts from the delicious Glazed and Infused. It was a beautiful spring day and such a fantastic way to celebrate one blissfully happy year of marriage… and of course the addition of their new puppy – who was very well behaved and a pleasure to work with! Happy Anniversary to Jackie + Mark! I feel blessed and oh-so-thankful to have you guys (including Chipper) as part of the JTPhoto family 🙂

1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography 1-Year Anniversary Photos | Danada Farm PIctures | Chicago Wedding Photographer | Jill Tiongco Photography VENDOR CREDIT //  Location: Danada Farm // Doughnuts: Glazed and Infused // Champagne Flutes: Crate & Barrel // Florals: Mariano’s