We've said it so many times before, but it's crazy how fast kids grow up. We see it firsthand with our repeat clients and are always amazed when it seems like so much has changed in the blink of an eye.Read More
If you've ever been to North Avenue Beach in Chicago during the summer, you know it's always insane. So many people, very little personal space, and zero quiet. At 7AM, however, it's actually surprisingly peaceful and the light is pretty darn perfect.Read More
It seems like a lifetime ago when Amanda met Allison when they were both working for the Chicago Blackhawks. Three Stanley Cup Championships, a wedding, baby, so many memories and several years later, they reconnected when Allison reached out to book some family photos later this summer.Read More
Looking for a weekend getaway trip that won't totally break the bank? You're in luck. We've put together a little weekend travel guide to Charleston, South Carolina. Amanda and a friend spent Friday-Monday in Charleston and it was the perfect amount of time to see, do and eat everything for a great girls' weekend away. Okay, maybe not everything, but a heck of a lot of stuff.
Charleston food (clearly the first thing you want to know all about)
- Breakfast/Brunch Spots
- The Park Cafe — Cutest little cafe with great natural light, PLANTS everywhere (seriously my inner plant lady was jumping for joy) and really great food that's locally sourced. We ate inside, but they had a cute little patio if outdoor dining is your jam. The frittata is highly recommended.
- The Daily — A neighborhood market with really great coffee and a well-crafted breakfast menu selection. We sat and watched the line cooks in action and enjoyed the laid back vibe before we headed to the beach for the day.
- Poogan's Porch — Amazing traditional Charleston brunch spot. Be sure to get there early or make reservations as they fill up really quick. Pimento cheese fan? Try the lowcountry omelet.
- The Darling Oyster Bar — Into oysters? You need to make a stop here at some point during your visit. Not a huge fan? No worries, they have a full menu of other seafood and meat. This space is, well, darling and extremely Instagrammable.
- The Crab Shacks — Hanging out in the Folly Beach area and looking for some casual dining? Make a stop here. We got the crab platter and grilled shrimp to share. It was more than enough food and was the perfect night to sit out on their large patio.
- Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) — Looking for an elevated dining experience? Make sure to stop by SNOB. Their prime steaks are cooked to perfection and despite the name, it's not a stuffy atmosphere.
Places to grab drinks in Charleston
- Prohibition — No password required. This speakeasy-inspired spot is a great place to grab a drink (or two). We ended up getting the house-made charcuterie and cheese board as an after dinner snack and were happy we did.
- Bin 152 Wine Bar — Not only did they have an amazing selection of wines, but they also had more than 40 different cheeses and charcuterie to select from. You better believe we had a late night snack and some wine at this place. Perfect spot to people watch and engage in some great conversation.
- The bar and outdoor patio at Husk — Couldn't get reservations at Husk for dinner? We couldn't either. But luckily we stopped by their cute little patio for a few post-dinner drinks. They've got some famous handcrafted cocktails and a great wine and beer selection. The atmosphere alone is worth the stop.
Things to see and do in Charleston
- Beach day at Isle of Palms — looking for a more chill/relaxed beach spot in Charleston? Isle of Palms is a little further out, but beyond worth the drive. We spent an entire day on the beach and have never felt more relaxed. However, learn from our mistake and pack extra sunscreen. And reapply often.
- Shopping on King Street — King Street offers a mix of cute little boutiques and more well known shops. You'll also see the movie theater from The Notebook on King Street (sadly, we didn't see Ryan Gosling).
- Visit Rainbow Row — that cute little colorful row of houses you see all over the 'gram? Yeah, that's Rainbow Row. Make sure to bring your camera.
- Walk around the Charleston Historic District — We didn't end up doing a tour of any plantations or houses (which we did hear good things about but couldn't fit it into this trip), however, we walked the streets of the Charleston Historic District and were amazed by the beautiful homes. Worth a stroll if you have time.
If you've been considering booking a trip to Charleston or it's been a while since you last visited, we highly recommend adding it to the list. We felt incredibly safe the entire time and didn't worry for a second when walking around at night.
Have any additional recommendations? Leave them in the comments below for others to check out!
Christine and John were complete strangers before fate brought them together at a mutual friend’s going away party almost five years ago, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. It’s proof that really great things can begin at the end of another chapter—you just need to be open and let the universe do its thing.
This past December, the two took a trip to the most magical place on earth and John had a very special surprise up his sleeve. Christine, having zero clue a proposal was about to happen, insisted that they run around the Magic Kingdom to hit all of the rides before long lines formed. So John had to play it cool with her gorgeous ring chilling in his pocket. No sweat, right? Luckily the ring (and John!) survived all of the rides and he was able to keep it together long enough to pull off a perfect proposal in front of Cinderella's Castle. He even made sure there was a photographer there to document the moment (smart guy!).
They wanted a casual, relaxed engagement session at a few different spots around Chicago, including outside of The Chicago Theatre and around the Fulton Market/West Loop area, which was right in our wheelhouse. John is a beer lover, so obviously we had to swing by one of his favorite breweries, Goose Island's Fulton Street Tap Room, for a beer at the end of their session. If it's not completely apparent when looking through these photos, these two not only have a ton of love for each other, but were a blast to capture and hang with. We wish these lovebirds all the joy, happiness and love for their future together and are so grateful that we were able to document it for an afternoon.
Did you ever pretend you had an adult job when you were growing up whether it was a doctor, veterinarian, firefighter, or the millions of other careers that looked so neat when you were little? I always had a passion for helping others and thought being a teacher would be the perfect way to inspire others and have the biggest impact. Fast forward to college and the teaching job market in Illinois was virtually nonexistent, so I quickly switched gears to PR and gave up my dream of becoming a teacher. However, sometimes your dreams can reveal themselves in different forms — you just have to listen.
When I was in high school my mom took me along to one of her yoga classes, and after just one hour I knew it was the start of something really special. After that first experience I took classes on and off at the local fitness center and did some at-home yoga videos, but it wasn’t until I stepped into my first yoga studio in 2014 that I really got hooked. I went from practicing occasionally to spending at least 4 to 5 hours a week on my mat. I took a few months off in 2015 during a crazy busy phase of life and instantly regretted it: I wasn't centered, and I mentally and physically craved time on my mat. When I returned to my mat after that time off I began to break my old patterns and started to let go.
I let go of the illusion of control and perfectionism and started to just live my life. The more time I spent on my mat alone with my thoughts, the more I learned that true meaningful transformation comes from within. If you don’t have genuine self-love, you’ll never be fulfilled. There’s not a magical number on the scale or size of clothes that will make you feel perfect. External things — money, jobs, houses, cars, or physical appearances will never make you happy. And guess what? I’ve gained so much by letting go and embracing what makes me different and focusing on enjoying my life. And no, I didn’t gain numbers on a scale or pant sizes, but self-confidence, self-love, self-worth, and a whole lot of grit and determination.
Yoga has truly transformed my life and I want to share what I've learned with others in a meaningful way. I’ve been feeling called to do yoga teacher training for a long time, but for years have been too terrified to stop making excuses for why I shouldn’t do it.
Fear is what holds us back from things in life, especially those that can really change us for the better. There’s something comforting in pretending that we’re in control, when in reality it’s all just an illusion — and one that will only hold you back. I’ve decided recently that life is far too short to not do the things that you truly want to do. Sometimes you just have to go for them, especially when it’s scary as hell — because that’s where the biggest transformations are bound to take place.
I'm beginning a new chapter soon as I officially start yoga teacher training next year. I couldn’t be more excited to finally share this journey with others and create that impact I’ve craved my entire life. So here’s to doing things that are totally terrifying, because life would be far too boring without them.
You know what’s funny about fate? When it’s the right person, right place and right time in life — it will absolutely all come together. Ryan and Michelle both went to the same high school and likely passed each other several hundred times in the halls without even realizing it. And then fate stepped in several years later when their future careers would both bring them back to this very place where they would finally meet and fall in love.
Now that they’re already coming up on a year of marriage and have added two new members to the family, it seemed fitting to get a shoot in with the four of them. It was freezing but you’d never be able to tell from these photos — these two were pros in front of the camera and didn’t need breaks to throw on coats to warm up.
It was a nostalgic shoot for Amanda since she also went to high school there and has known Ryan for more years than she’d like to count (man, we’re old). Jeff also happened to go to the main rival for high school — and because we’re older and wiser (or just older), we didn’t share that tidbit with the couple until the shoot was almost over.
We couldn’t have pulled this shoot off without Amanda’s sister and brother-in-law. Not only did they help keep the pups in line but they also provided some comedic relief to break up the session and keep the smiles genuine. If you look really closely at some of the photos below you just may see them in the background on a few of these. Thanks again guys, we owe you more than a few Starbucks hot chocolates for this one.
See our awesome logo at the top of your browser? Ken designed that. He also helped us create our business cards that we love handing out to new clients. Oh, Ken can also draw literally anything you ask, and exceptionally well. So yeah, Ken is just a tad creative.
Collaborating with creatives is fun and inspiring, but it also adds a little extra pressure. Why? For starters, you know they really know their stuff and will be looking for certain details. Will they question our composition? Is everything we send them properly exposed? Is the color balance to their liking? But since Ken also happens to be a good friend, and his wife Kristin and son Aaron are super laid back and fun to be around, this shoot didn’t feel like work at all.
As we’ve mentioned on social media teasing this post, Ken is also a planner and picked out October 14 on the calendar months ago for his annual family photo shoot. As luck would have it, we had record-breaking rainfall in the Chicagoland area over that entire weekend, of course. Luckily the stars aligned and we were all free the following Saturday, and the weather ended up perfectly. We’re so glad we decided to wait it out — because as you can see from these photos it was well worth it.
Can we talk about Ken and Kristin’s adorable (and hilarious) kiddo Aaron for a second? Not only was he asking if he could show us his different modeling faces and escorted us around to numerous locations at the Greene Valley Forest Preserve, but he even asked if he could lean up against trees and lay down to get some different shots. And he’s only three! We couldn’t stop laughing at all the cute things he came up with. Maybe we should add him to our team as our Creative Director.
It was hard to pick out our favorites from this session to share on the blog, but we hope these truly tell the story of how much fun we all had. We also think there’s more than a few headshot worthy photos for Aaron to submit to modeling and acting agencies. And we know his parents agree: he’s way too cute NOT to share with the world.
We get it. Booking a photographer is a huge commitment. Not only are you trusting someone to document you in a good light, but you’re also investing some hard earned cash into these sessions. We fully understand. And we also think you should be selective when deciding who the best fit for you is when you book a session.
That’s why we’ve put a few of our top questions together that you should absolutely be asking when you’re looking to book your next shoot. Do we hope it’s with us? Of course. But we also want to be the right fit — like that fit your favorite pair of worn-in jeans gives you when your butt looks its best and you feel like you’re on the top of the world. And if that fit is not with us, we still want you to find it because we care that much about you and our work. So let’s dive in:
1. What is your photography style?
This matters. A lot. We shoot in a photojournalistic style and like to capture moments as they naturally happen instead of forcing you to pose a certain way. But we know that’s not everyone’s jam. And that’s okay! You want to find the best possible match for you. Because not only are you going to have a much better experience, you’re also going to have photos you love. If you dig seeing the candid moments that our style produces, let’s chat! Otherwise, keep looking until you find a style that really speaks clearest to you personally.
2. What is included with our session fee?
We’ve seen it time and time again: “Only X amount for your photo session!” (But please ignore all the fine print about how we will hold these images hostage until you come into our studio and spend hundreds more to print these images and get a few files.) Yeah. That’s not our style. At all. Our session fees include all of your edited images in a high-resolution digital format for you to download and print at the place of your choice. Make sure you’re asking these important questions because you can end up spending way more than you thought you would with a mediocre to subpar end result that you’re not completely happy with. And who wants that? Certainly we don’t. And we really don’t want that to be your experience either.
3. Will you be my actual photographer? Or will it be one of your associates?
This is also something that is super-important to ask upfront before signing any contracts. We both show up and document your sessions, no matter what type or kind. Because we ARE our brand and our business, and we want you to have the client experience you actually signed up for when you met with us initially. Why would you trust someone with some of your most important moments if you’ve never met, interacted with them or gotten a chance to see their work? You may think you’re saving some money by going that route, but trust us when we say it can be a huge mistake. As sad as this is, these people don’t actually care about you or the client experience. Don’t you want to invest in people who also invest fully in you and telling your story? Yeah, we thought so too.
4. How long after my shoot will my photos be ready?
For lifestyle sessions we aim to deliver your photos in an online gallery 1-2 weeks after your shoot. For larger events and weddings, this time is increased to 3-4 weeks in order to ensure we have enough time to carefully edit and select your best photos from your day. Some places are so busy that it takes months, yes, months to deliver your photos back to you. Who wants to wait that long? While we understand having a ton of clients is a great thing for business, it’s not good for the actual client experience. You matter. You’re not just a number and your photos should be treated that way, too. At least we seem to think so.
5. How can I make sure to look good in my photos?
Duh. That’s what we’re here for: to capture your good side, best angles and you in all of your amazingness. You may not fully believe it, but you’re beautiful and deserved to be captured that way. You’re not just another client or a number to us. You’re a person, who deserves to be documented — and we will do our absolute best to capture you in your element. Your story deserves to be shared, and we want to tell it.
So tell us, are you in?
We love getting outside to shoot for the fresh air, tons of natural light and the seemingly endless background options, but there’s just something so special about capturing families — especially new ones — in their spaces where they feel most comfortable as they adjust to their new normal. It allows us to document people and freeze time in a way that offers a peek into their routine and captures memories to return to for years to come — especially when they’re being made continuously but sleep is precious and elusive.
Our friend and client Adrianne (You may remember Adrianne from the sweet little family session we did a few months back with her and her son, Ethan) recently surprised her sister-in-law, Jaclyn, with a gift certificate for a newborn photo session for her birthday, as Jaclyn was to be due in the coming weeks and Adrianne wanted to give her and her brother, Tom, a priceless gift she would always remember.
After a few weeks getting adjusted to their new life with baby Cam, we spent a recent morning hanging out with the three of them in their home and were able to capture some great moments. Cam is clearly a natural in front of the camera already as you can see his personality already shining through despite us only spending a couple hours with the new family.
While people often worry a shoot like this is a lot to coordinate, these family sessions really are laid back and easy. We’re not interested in directing or pose you to perfection; we’ll offer some tips on the best places for great light, but we truly just want to hang out and capture real moments to help you remember this period of your life. Because as new sleep-deprived parents know, these days sure are a blur.
Want to give a priceless gift of your own or are ready to set up a shoot with us? We've got you covered. Shoot us an email at hello@28westcreative.
Have you joined our email list so that you keep up to date with cool insider stuff like what we're up to, exclusive invites to mini sessions and other special promotions? Click here to subscribe. We promise we won't spam you.
Imagine you're in the middle of planning your biggest event ever and after all of the details go out to more than 300 attendees there's a last minute venue change. And on top of that logistical nightmare, you’re already teaching on stage in front of hundreds of people while showing difficult hair demonstrations with a giant spotlight shining down on you. Not to mention your calendar leading up to this event is booked full with your regular hair clients, your other continuing education courses you’re teaching, your two kids and all of their summer activities, your four energetic rescue dogs with their needs, and — you know — you’re also attempting to have a life while you run and promote many other businesses in your industry. Yeah, talk about stress. Say it with us now: Girl Boss Mode.
Normally dark venues with zero options for natural light would have given us hives. But when Amanda's longtime hair stylist and friend Katie asked us to capture moments of her largest attended Educations in Hair show to date in the New Orleans Ballroom in Pheasant Run Resort we jumped at the chance (but knowing there would at least be that giant spotlight sure helped). There were times we had to get extra creative, like when we had to climb behind stage to sneak a few shots of the crowd through open curtains, but it was such a fun morning that flew by.
Katie has been in the hair industry for more than 15 years and is a true inspiration and leader in her field. Her passion for teaching and helping others was evident the moment people started to line up to check in. She greeted everyone with a warm smile and didn't let the stress of the day get to her at all. Not many people could hold it all together while trying to keep each attendee entertained. It's no wonder her shows sell out the way they do. This is just the beginning. We can't wait to see what she does next.
If you haven't gotten to know us a little bit by reading our About Us page or following along on our Instagram account, give us a follow and get up to speed before resuming this post. Done? Okay, good. To recap what we can't stress enough: we aren't your cookie cutter photography team and we prefer to take a laid-back approach to our sessions to make sure you're comfortable and having a good time during our time together — because nothing is worse than forced, fake smiles that scream "I'd rather be anywhere but here!" We don't dig those and doubt you do either.
So, we've outlined a few tips below to set you up for success for your next photo shoot with us.
1. Act natural
Because we take a photojournalistic approach to our photo sessions, we want you to forget we are there — or at least try. We know that sounds a little silly since you hired us to be taking your photos and all that. But the best moments are the ones where we capture natural interactions and emotions as if we were observing as a fly on the wall. So don't think that you all need to be perfectly posed and all smiling at the camera for your winning shot. While it may help break the ice and get you accustomed to the snap-snap-snap of our shutters, we're not going to force these out of you, and they're often our least favorite photos from our sessions. Our best photos are often toward the end of the session when you've warmed up, gotten comfortable and are just relaxed and having fun. And remember: it's our job to make you guys look good, so leave that up to us, relax and just be yourselves!
2. Chose your clothing wisely
We're often with our clients for an hour or two and we want you to be comfortable while we are taking photos. So please don't wear uncomfortable shoes or clothing that is going to make you want to leave 20 minutes into our session. Plus, when you're uncomfortable it reads on your face and will translate to your photos. Trust us. Dress comfortable, but leave the sweatpants for when you get home. Also, coordinated outfits are a great idea; matching ones — not so much.
3. Pick a setting or activity that helps tell the story
Is there something you and your loved ones enjoy doing together? Great! Let's find a way to capture that. Instead of going to some random field you've never visited in your life and will never go back to, let's find a space that you visit together or incorporate an activity that you enjoy doing together on a regular basis. Capturing you all naturally interacting is where the magic truly happens. Have props you'd like to include somehow like an adorable puppy? Great — we can work with those, too.
4. Have kiddos? Let them be, well, kids
Chances are your kids aren't going to like being told what to do, especially if it involves cheesing for the camera. Relax. If your kid loves to run and has high energy — we will run right there next to them. Your kids don't have to be on a leash to get great photos. In fact, letting their little personalities come out to play will help us capture their true spirits and show the dynamic of your family. We build in extra time during these sessions so we can take breaks if needed. Make sure to bring their favorite toys and treats for bribes. Trust us, they work. Also, if you're relaxed, your kids will be too. So enjoy playing with them and leave the rest up to us. We've got this.
5. Don't go down the Pinterest rabbit hole
While Pinterest is an amazing place for inspiration — we use it for client boards and ideas before shoots — don't put too much pressure on yourself to make sure you can recreate the "perfect" shot that was likely captured with the help of a crew the size of a small army and a Hollywood budget. Also, comparison is truly the thief of all joy, and while it may make you feel a bit at ease to check out a few pins to send our way so we know the vibe you're going for, don't put pressure on yourself or your loved ones if you don't have access to a wardrobe stylist and a white sandy beach during golden hour while riding unicorns into the sunset. This is about us capturing you being yourselves. And when in doubt, refer to tip #1 and relax. We'll take care of the rest.
Have you joined our email list so that you keep up to date with cool insider stuff like what we're up to, exclusive invites to mini sessions and other special promotions? Click here to subscribe. We promise we won't spam you.
Haven't booked your photo session with us yet but you're finally ready to get this scheduled? Shoot us a message firstname.lastname@example.org. We can't wait to hear from you.
Amanda's day job recently sent her to Toronto for a professional development conference over a long weekend, which Jeff saw as the perfect excuse to tag along with his cameras to capture the Canadian locals and all that the great White North had to offer. Even though been dating for close to two years and living together for 9+ months we have never escaped on a trip all by ourselves. Yes really. Obviously this visit was long overdue and we couldn't wait to get some time alone together and to explore a new city. The poutine and Canadian beer are just as good — if not even better — than they say, and those things alone are well worth the visit. If the food and drink aren't enough to draw you in, the people are so darn nice and the city is beyond safe and walkable. We literally only took an Uber once so we could visit Bellwoods Brewery — well worth the 13CAD ride to get there. At the end of this short visit we found ourselves dreaming about never leaving, but we would miss our beloved pup, Walter, and working with our clients too much so we decided to return home. For now. If you're into good food + beer keep scrolling for a ton of photos from our trip and some solid recommendations if you ever find yourself in this amazing city. We can't wait to plan our trip back soon.
Food + Drink Recommendations
- Bar Hop (both locations) — great selection of local craft beers
- Bellwoods Brewery — for brews and amazing food
- Tim Hortons — because, when in Canada (and really great coffee!)
- Le Petit Déjeuner — for some great breakfast. Jeff highly recommends the croque madame
- Bannock— good for a quick bite, friendly staff and some tasty poutine
- Hunters Landing — get yourself a landing cure caesar and thank us later
Things to See + Do Recommendations
- Hockey Hall of Fame — obviously
- Graffiti Alley — amazing street art and photo opportunities
- Distillery District — cute shops, the Toronto LOVE lock sign and some good people watching
- St. Lawrence Market — if you need fresh food and some good people watching
- Kensington Market — stop at the Blue Banana for some great unique gifts (thanks, Kate!)
Remember back to your first day at a new job and how incredibly nervous you were? What if you hated it? What if they figured out you were a total fraud and couldn't do what they hired you to? What if you didn't click with any of your new coworkers? Luckily for Amanda, none of those things was the case when she started her day job more than seven years ago and one of the first people she met on her very first day was an incredibly beautiful, friendly and hilarious girl named Adrianne. They quickly found out that they had the exact same weird sense of humor and became fast friends. Like, the kind of friends who actually like to hang out and talk all the time outside of work.
Watching Adrianne become a mom to an insanely smart — he's three and knows what a rhombus is and can name more states than most adults — adorable, kind little human has been one of the most incredible things. He has grown from a tiny string bean to a boy full of energy in a flash. Adrianne handles the ups and downs of parenthood with such grace and it is truly a joy to watch her raise such a special kiddo.
Before this session Adrianne had never had any professional photos captured with just the two of them. Yes, he's three — did we mention that being a parent and trying to coordinate this kind of stuff can be, well, challenging? We couldn't wait to jump at the opportunity to freeze moments while he's still small-ish and willing to hang out with his "auntie Panda" and some strange guy with a camera (sorry Jeff). We had a blast letting Ethan be a three-year-old boy who loves to run, play and explore. If nothing else these pictures show the love that these two share as well as the same adorable smile.
So thank you Adrianne for being such an incredible person and friend and thank you Ethan for sharing your morning with us and for being you. Before we all know it you'll be headed off to Harvard.
When Jeff's little sister was to get married recently at picturesque Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois, aside from Jeff's ushering duties, we were tasked with simply enjoying ourselves and the moment on her special day — the photos were covered.
A couple weeks before the Big Day, however, Chelsea informed us that her photography team had back-to-back-to-back weddings that weekend (not a bad problem to have!) and wouldn't arrive in time to be able to grab anything of the bridal party getting ready in the morning. We were honored to be asked to jump in and ensure she had some memories of the quieter moments before being swept up in the whirlwind of the ceremony, family photos and the reception.
Tucked away in a windowless room far from where her groom-to-be could stumble across her before seeing her walk down the aisle, we shared memories, mimosas, laughs and a few tears as the girls got their makeup and hair done. And then we were off to our original task: enjoying ourselves and the moment. But we couldn't help snapping a few more photos along the way.
One of the coolest (and craziest!) experiences of our adult lives has been seeing our childhood friends have kids of their own. So when Amanda's childhood friend asked us to take a few family shots, we couldn't wait to get them in front of our cameras. Victoria is the perfect combo of both of her parents. When she makes a silly face — it's Lauren through and through. And just like that, she will give you a look that is exactly like her daddy, Brad. Our busy schedules aligned perfectly this past weekend and we were able to get a mini summer session in with the mini Tory, while she's still mini. It's crazy how fast 2017 has gone and how much this little one has already grown. I can't think of two better people to raise such a strong, smart, silly and sassy girl. Tory, you are so lucky and oh so loved. We hope you enjoy these shots from our session as much as we enjoyed snapping them.
When a restaurant such as Niche, which is known nationwide for its wine list and stockpile of more than 200 whiskies in its bar program, is looking to update its website and get some fresh photos of its stellar menu, you drop what you're doing and race over.
Then you crack open a custom bottle of bourbon, pour it over some ice, take a few sips and sit back and click the shutter while the tasty treats are presented in some delicious light right in front of you.
The hardest part is picking the best photos, so you add them to your blog and share the wealth for others who couldn't be there can enjoy. We can't wait to get back!