Last week I had an incredibly busy week filled with so much excitement and opportunity. I spent all day in Chicago on Wednesday photographing 4 families I adore and finished the night with images of Danielle and Nick on the beach. All of these images were worth the 98 degree weather I endured for 10 hours, sweating, and driving everywhere to serve my clients [lol]. I even tried to look presentable for the day, but by about 2 pm I gave up on that dream… it was hot, friends.
How did this opportunity happen? I commented on one of Danielle’s posts about not having her wedding photos but still celebrating their one year mark on the day the got married, June 8th. I mentioned for her to take a look at my instagram & website and if she liked my work to plan an anniversary shoot! To my surprise she did actually message me, and I did have a minor panic attack for about 2 hours when I was driving to Detroit [lol], but a good panic attack. Photography, like many other professions, is really about access. There have been so many incredible photographers who just never get seen because they don’t have access to any platform, so when connections like this happen, not only am I so excited to show whoever their worth in the lens, but also there is a bit of mystery for my profession as well – however I am pretty realistic about the fact that MANY people never check out the artist of the images, but admire the subjects within them – totally reasonable. It’s why we remember images of Marilyn Monroe, but never Richard Avedon as the creator [unless you are involved in the education of photography]. So I offered this session with no return on exposure, but definitely to see these two REALLY happy with themselves, image wise, and with a genuine desire to show their love, the way it deserves to be seen.
Danielle and I messaged back and forth about solo shoot concepts, Nick’s wardrobe [lol], and her vision of images she had always wanted from her wedding or engagement shoot that she never got. Through these conversations I really began to love who both of these people were as people, and not Reality TV stars. To be honest, “Love is Blind,” is the only reality TV show I have ever watched in my life, and it’s probably because the first season came out around COVID, I was bored, and let’s be honest, they frame it to be a massive, addicting dumpster fire – but after watching the production of “Saved by the Barn,” and the amount of takes I witnessed in person to get the ‘right shot,’ I knew that these framings of situations were loosely based on reality – which kinda gave me more drive to meet and photograph these two humans. I DID know, however, that their personalities fit mine to a T from watching them on nationwide television, and I was absolutely correct on that – 10/10 humans, intelligent beings, and very self aware personalities.
After the show ended I began to follow Danielle and watched her address mental health stigmas, her self love journey, and just a promotion of all things I stand for – and this really made me want to show her all of those great things in her own images. If you know me, you know that self love, confidence, body image, and the address of health issues such as mental health and eating disorders have been at the root of my photography for over a decade. It’s what I studied in graduate school, and the promotion of loving yourself at every stage in life is still at the core of my work. I believe images have SUCH power to make or break us – our ideas of ourselves – and the ideas of the world around us. So to say that this shoot meant a lot to me for a lot of reasons – is an understatement.
This is a lengthy intro to some of my favorite images from the shoot but as I talked to them, walked around Chicago for 2.5 hours, I learned a lot about them, the facades of the reality TV production, their journey as a couple and how many times they get recognized on the beach [lol]. These two are some of the kindest humans I’ve had the pleasure to meet – and they deserve not only the world in each other, but good images that document their relationship and how far they have come.
Although they didn’t get the engagement and wedding they necessarily wanted, I hope that these images can feel like those engagement photographs they never got – and I hope that in time they can celebrate their wedding the way they always pictured – and if that happens, no pressure, but I wouldn’t mind being there [lol]. Through this shoot I feel I have made two new friends, and I hope they feel the same. D + N, I’m in your corner – whenever you need me, I’m here <3
Some solo shots of them alone <3