I frequently ask couples to share with me the things they love doing together, and try to work a couple of those things into their portrait session. Don’t get me wrong, I love the views from Lincoln Park as much as anyone else (there’s a good reason why the South Pond Pavilion is so popular). But if I can sprinkle in some unique locations (and maybe a drink or two!) during an engagement session I am all for it!
James and Lindsay provided me with a hefty list of wonderful options, sadly many of them involved hiking and as you know… Chicago is flat! The midwest is not exactly a dynamic landscape, and mountains are pretty hard to come by. Luckily James is an awesome self-taught mixologist and Lindsay loves to bake, so we decided that’s where we would start. Their bright and cozy condo was the perfect backdrop, and their dog waited patiently while we tinkered in the kitchen. He was rewarded with treats and a snuggle session before we headed out around the city! It was still really cold outside so we picked a few spots that allowed us to hop out of the car quickly for a few photos. Our last stop required some bravery and a lot of walking. We wanted to capture some photos of them in their hiking clothes, and I thought the rocky landscape by Northerly Island would be perfect. Of course I didn’t factor in the drop in temperature as we got closer to the water, and as the sun was setting. It was freezing! But honestly, I would hike through those muddy puddles all over again to get these photos… such an amazing perspective of our great city! I can’t compliment these two enough for their willingness to try just about anything, and for being unabashedly sweet and tender in front of the camera. You have found a wonderful match in each other and it shows!
How they met….
“It was a balmy Saturday night on that 5th of July 2014. Lindsay was expecting a much needed girls’ night out with Jami and Barb, excited to dance out the evening at Beauty Bar to the tunes of the 2000’s. Little did she know that Jami and Barb invited Thomas and James to crash their night.
The night started at Jami’s place. James arrived a little late but was quickly welcomed in and introduced to Lindsay who was still getting ready. After some initial drinks and laughs, everyone headed to Beauty Bar to get the dance party started. Once inside, the music was loud and nostalgic. Jami and Thomas made there way to the dance floor while Barb, Lindsay, and James headed to the bar for that first drink. Barb left to check on Jami which gave Lindsay and James just enough time to hit it off. The two then headed to the dance floor and danced the night away. As the night ended, James told Lindsay that he’d be sure to call her the following day. He did to set up their first date at the Old Oak Tap and the rest is history.”
How did James propose?
“For the proposal, I wanted to make sure that I surprised Lindsay, that it was in Minnesota where she is from, and that it would be intimate with only her and our dog Quincy around. We had a trip to New Zealand coming up where we would be doing some hiking, so I suggested we hike in Minnesota to get some practice. Although Lindsay agreed, she was suspicious for why it had to be Minnesota since Wisconsin was so much closer. On the way up, she even asked when I might think of proposing in the future (gave me a heart attack!). Luckily, I was able to deflect any suspicion.
The day of our hike, about halfway through the trail, we see a clearing. It’s a beautiful space with colorful autumn leaves scattered all over the forest floor and a nice calm feel to it… I know this is the place. Lindsay suggests we stop here, so we can grab some water for us and Quincy. As she begins taking care of Quincy, I jokingly tell her how frustrating it can be with how observant she is (remember her proposal question above), she replies with “Why… because I know when our dog is thirsty?”. I smiled at her, and then silently got down on one knee and pulled out the ring.”
When did you know she was the one?
“I knew Lindsay was the one when I was about to celebrate her birthday with her for the first time. We had only been dating for about a month, but I can clearly remember how excited I was planning the night and all the surprises I wanted to include; I realized I’d never felt as excited before. I couldn’t help but recall all the moments we’d already had and the prospects I felt for the future going forward. I felt like the luckiest person to be spending her day with her. After dinner, we put on some party hats I doctored up while I surprised her with a cake and gifts, and she just gave me this look… I’ll never forget it. At that moment, I had the overwhelming want to always make her happy.”
She’s always fixing his glasses when they slip…
And now for some “hiking”!
What was your favorite part of the engagement photo session?
“I have found wedding planning to be extremely stressful and in all honestly, I felt like it wasn’t about James and me any more. It was about the details, the guest list, and trying to accommodate everyone. The engagement photo session was another added expense that required planning but it was worth it. We were lucky enough to work with Bethany and she was a joy. She kept things light and fun but also gave us direction. The photo session reminded me that it was about us as a couple and that was priceless. James and I went home feeling more connected and revitalized. Thank you, Bethany!”
What locations did you choose and why?
“1) Our condo – We wanted our engagement photos to reflect activities we liked doing and where we spend a lot of our time. Since we enjoy cooking/baking together, James likes mixing drinks, and we love spending time with our dog at home, it only made sense to kick off our photo shoot at our home showcasing those activities.
2) Alley across from the Chicago Theater – We wanted a few pictures with some iconic landmarks, and Bethany mentioned this cool alley across from the Chicago Theater. We were really drawn to how it felt removed and away from the city even though it was right in the heart of it. It was also nice to include the Theater because that is where we went to our first concert.
3) Northerly Island – We enjoy hiking and thought that photos that could show us doing that while still capturing the city might turn out nicely. Bethany had such a great idea and told us about a section of Northerly Island that had some hills that we could hike up and down and that would also provide some great, unique views of the lake and skyline.
4) Pickwick Coffee Shop – Lindsay and I had never heard of this place before, but Bethany sold us on it when she described it as a little Harry Potter-esque (being a tucked away store front at the end of charming alleyway).”
James’ Drink Recipe:
Fall tends to be our favorite season, and one great memory I’ve had with Lindsay took place at an apple orchard when we first started dating. So, I wanted to make a simple cocktail with that in mind.
Spiced pear liqueur
Lindsay’s Cookie Recipe:
James loves a simple chocolate cookie and I love eating the dough! If I had to choose one of my favorite cookie recipes, it would be Ina Garten’s
(but when in doubt or when we get a sudden sweet tooth, Sweet Mandy B’s is our go to spot)