Chicago West Town Outdoor 1 Year Family Session

Where did this past year go? No, really. It literally feels like we were shooting Cal’s newborn photos last week yet here we are a full year later watching this dude take steps and eat veggie straws like a boss. It was so fun catching up with this wolfpack and seeing how much has changed in what seems like a blink of an eye.

We were only a few months pregnant this time last year and it makes us a little weepy that our little dude is almost 7 months old already. We got a preview of what life will be like for us in a few short months and can’t believe how mobile and interactive Cal is already. This kind of stuff makes us pause and have gratitude that we can document our kiddo as much as we do. And thankful that our clients treasure these moments and trust us to document them, too.

Chicago Newborn Session

Amanda met Kayla and Andy when they were all working together at the Chicago Blackhawks 10 (!!) years ago. Since they parted ways, Kayla and Andy fell in love, got married, had a baby and they both still work for the team. It’s crazy how much has happened in the past 10 years, but it honestly felt like no time had passed when we finally reconnected. It was so great to catch up with these two and meet their newest addition to the family, Cal — who happens to be the most CHILL baby we’ve ever met. Literally let us do whatever we wanted (including a few outfit changes) and never made a peep. If we get half as lucky with our little dude we will be happy. These were just a few of the many images we loved from this session. We look forward to watching Cal continue to grow and to see these two thrive in this next chapter of their lives. Congrats guys, Cal sure is an incredible little dude. Thanks for letting us be a part of this exciting time of your lives!

What a Difference a Year Makes

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.

We shot Cam's newborn photos when he was just a few months old last year and reconnected just in time for his first birthday. The difference between the last 10 months is pretty incredible. Considering he is now walking (fast!), talking and loved to swing his bat at anything in close proximity. 

While it's easy to keep pushing off documenting your kiddos' lives (we know, who has the time to coordinate when you're trying to keep another human alive?), it's so important to make it a priority because time sure is fleeting. We've heard from so many clients that they wished they had done this sooner because they blinked and their baby was completely different. 

We can't wait to see Cam continue to grow and how big he gets in another year. 

North Avenue Beach Chicago Family Session

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.

We weren't sure how we all would function that early, especially little almost-2-year-old Henry, but you'd never know from looking at these photos that he decided to sleep in that morning and had to be woken up to leave for the shoot (and if you have kids or have been around them you know this is usually NOT how you want to start their day off). Not only was Henry super well behaved (and so darn cute) but their dog Max was the star of the day. He never barked once or tried to run off, and often was ready in position without us even having to ask. 

Also, can we please talk about how Henry is already trying to be just like his active parents and was running on the path with his mom at the end of the session? He will be winning his first 5K in no time! 

Chicago Fullerton Beach Family Session

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. Fast forward a few weeks later, and this session quickly became even more special when Allison learned they would soon be relocated to Minnesota.

Despite being in the middle of a big move, we luckily were able find time that worked to grab some photos in the city where they started their family and was their son's first home.

We wish you guys the best of luck in your next chapter and hope that our paths cross again soon! 

A Chicago Engagement Session

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. 

Not Your Typical High School Romance

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.

Our Three Year Old Creative Director

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.


Top 5 questions You Should Ask Before You Book Your Photographer


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? 


Newborn Lifestyle Session at Home

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. 

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