Photographer Who Travels

I was recently asked to shoot a wedding for some friends of mine.  Now, I normally don’t like taking pictures for my friends and I’ll tell you why a little bit later.  However, I have known Ben and Stacy for quite a long time and I was almost certain that I wouldn’t run into any of the “usual issues” with them as my clients.

Thing is, their wedding was going to be in Chicago.  In general, I’m not a huge fan of Chicago.  I suppose I have plenty of reasons, but I swear something bad happens every single time I’m there.  I guess I can summarize my feelings on Chicago with the phrase, “Chicago, fun sometimes…sometimes not.”

Anyways, since I don’t live anywhere near Chicago, I knew that I was going to need some intel on places to shoot some pictures.  I got on the old Google machine and started looking for interesting ideas.  Definitely no shortage there.  The nice thing about large cities is that there are plenty of options.

The trouble would be trying to find locations that were close enough together because I knew that my time was going to be limited.  The wedding was scheduled for the afternoon (a definite plus for us photographers), but I had to allow enough time for everyone to get ready.  I know how stressful it can be for the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids to get ready for the big day.  Guys, on the other hand, are easy.  Give them their tux, some hair gel, and a case a beer and call it good!

Thankfully, Ben and Stacy were kind enough to do some scouting for me and came up with some ideas.  I just needed to narrow down the options and come up with a travel plan.  I also reached out to a photog friend of mine, David, who happens to call the Windy City home.  He mentioned an awesome location where I could take pictures of the wedding party and their limo (if they decided to rent one) against a nice background.

Turns out that Ben and Stacy did rent an immaculate party bus from this limo company out of Naperville.  Problem is that the bus was so large that once I saw it, I knew that it would not work well with the location that David had in mind for the limo shot.  Unfortunately, I had to scratch that idea off my list.  However, the spot would be perfect for something smaller like a stretched Hummer or similar stretch SUV.

During my wanders online I found some pictures of the Riverwalk in downtown Chicago and knew that I had to shoot some photos of the wedding party there.  The contrast between the cities skyscrapers, the clear blue sky, beautiful river and immaculate landscaping would be a perfect way to capture the grandeur of the city.  Check out this location on the Riverwalk:


Can you say, “perfect!”

One of the other locations that the couple came up with was a tribute to their country roots.  Late summer is a beautiful time to take outdoor shots, especially at Bengston Farms.  I stumbled upon the website of Joshua Albanese and was drawn to this picture of a young couple in the flowing grass.


Call it dumb luck, but I knew we had to make that location happen.

All in all, I know I got some amazing shots and I need to put my head down and do some editing.  I’m glad that I was able to be part of Ben and Stacy’s big day.  Working for friends and family can sometimes be a nightmare.  I’m more than happy to help out, but my time is still valuable.  I just wish that those close to me would remember that.  Countless times I have worked for an hourly rate that most high school students would balk at. Unfortunately, some of my close contacts just don’t seem to understand the work involved in capturing those amazing moments for a lifetime.  I try to be upfront and honest.  I’d much rather add value with additional locations and pictures than discount my rates.  Maybe I take it too personally, but you wouldn’t go up to Monet and personally try to barter the price of one of his paintings, would you?

I am constantly humbled by the fact that I am able to earn a living doing something that I love.  It really doesn’t feel like a job.  I knew that I could not continue to participate in the 9 to 5 rat race.  I’m fortunate that my friends no longer refer to me as a “starving artist.”  Keep pushing to make your dreams a reality and don’t listen to the naysayers.  All they do is create headwinds.  Sometimes, I really don’t understand why we as a society are so negative.  We should really be more encouraging.  The world would be a much better place with more positivity.  Take action and keep after your passion!

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