Bryan Pattison |


view the story

What is the difference between a Photo Album and a Photo Book?

Photo Album and Photo Book may sound like an interchangeable term but they definitely are not.  There are a few very slight differences but also some very large differences.  Let’s first start out by saying I am only going to talk about the differences and similarities specific to the ones that we offer.  There are so many print labs out there that may define them in different ways so instead of confusing you and myself, I’ll stick to what I know best.  

Photo Albums

I decided to start with the showstopper first.  Photo albums are the masterpieces you will find on our previous clients tabletops for all to see.  Couples invest in their wedding album knowing that it will be seen by everyone that comes through their home for years to come.  

Album Sizes – 8” x 8”, 10” x 10”, and 12” x 12”

Album Cover Material – Linen or Leather

Album Colors 

Linen – Black or Oatmeal

Leather – Black, White, Gray, Distressed Sand, Midnight Blue, Distressed Cappuccino

Album Pages – 20-50 thick pages

Photo Albums are a great investment for long term use because they are printed on super high quality photo paper and mounted to think pages that don’t bend or fade.  With the lay flat feature of the album you can print panoramic photos across the entire spread for a grand effect.  You have the option to finish off the album with embossing and foil stamping in a variety of colors.  

Photo Books

Photo books, while similar, have a much different purpose.  Photo books in the wedding industry are used mainly for sign in books for the day of the wedding.  They are bound more like traditional books and usually offer a full photo cover.  They are printed on very high quality paper but it is not photo paper.  They are better suited for writing on than the albums because the photo paper of albums will make the ink smear.

Book sizes – 5”x 7”, 8”x 8”, 8.5”x 11”, 10”x 10”, and 12”x 12”

Book cover material – Hardcover Photo

Book pages – up to 120 pages

Outside of using these for guest sign in books we also use these in our house to print yearly books for the kids.  They handle the abuse of the kids and are a smaller investment for something that may be destroyed by little hands or written on by guests at a wedding.  

The album has a more reflective surface because of the photo paper
Here you can see the difference in the thickness of the books.

There you have it, a simple breakdown of the differences.  Rue and I are here to help answer any and all questions you have about these things.  We keep trying to acquire more and more sample albums so we can share them with you at the reveal to give you every option.  We can’t wait to sit down with every client and design the perfect album or book.

Left – Photo Book, Middle – 8″ Linen Album, Right – 10″ Leather Album

Photo Albums vs Photo Books

Engagement Session

view the story

The best part about my job is meeting and talking to so many different people on a regular basis.  We do our best to screen people multiple times before they sign with us because we are looking for our ideal couple.  There are several factors we consider during this process but it all boils down to finding couples that are truly in love.  I know it sounds like an easy thing to do but I am going to be honest with you, that’s not always true.

Ariel and Dan are a perfect example of a couple that is truly in love, truly connected on a level that is a lot of times unexplainable to others. Check box number one, we met them when they showed up at a bridal expo together.  They were already showing a huge investment in one another and their marriage by being together and making these big decisions together.  Check box number two, every time we talked with them they used words like “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me”.  Check box number three, whenever we see them together they are smiling ear to ear.  Their smiles are so contagious, they respect and appreciate each other with every bone in their body, and their love loudly protrudes from their souls.

When we started talking about engagement sessions with them we all came up with a few locations to try and narrow down.  Then, one day, they came to us with this location we had never heard of before.  Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, IL.  We did some research and they sent us a few pictures from a recent trip they took there and we knew right away it was going to be amazing, like featured magazine worthy amazing.  

Rue and I try to shoot together as much as possible but occasionally only one of us can make it.  This was one location that we knew we had to have both of us there.  We are able to flow together, brainstorm together, and help the other set up those perfect shots that take some adjusting.  Beachfront locations like this offer so many opportunities for a different look with sand dunes, buildings, and of course the water.  

Rue and I can’t wait to meet up with these two again! I imagine another blog post will be necessary after their wedding in May of 2022.  

Congratulations Ariel + Dan! You two are incredible!

True Connection at Illinois Beach State Park


view the story

The Importance of Printing Your Wedding Photos

Anyone who has had a consult with us knows how we feel about printing your wedding photos after the big day but for those of you that haven’t heard our talk, here goes!

Rue and I have been married for a little over eight years at this point.  We printed a handful of photos in relatively small sizes from an online lab to hang on our wall.  We didn’t know much about printing or print labs at the time so we went with one of the first places we were able to find on Google.  We had the digital files of our photos so we didn’t think much of it.  Neither one of us felt it was important to get an album or go any further with print.  We thought we had what we needed.  We were never educated on the importance of this stuff.   

Flash forward a few years and the laptop that we had ALL of our wedding photos on started to have problems.  We had issues accessing the photos and could not find more than eight of them.  Our photographer didn’t offer any type of photo back-up so we didn’t have them anywhere else.  A few years and two kids later we found that old, broken, computer in our basement collecting dust.  I realized that we never actually got those photos off of the computer and that they were likely gone.  

I am no computer genius by any means but I was able to find the old downloads tucked far away in the corners of technology and extract them to our new computer.  So much stress was lifted off of my chest when it finally worked.  So many years had passed and the fear of losing them forever was now gone.  We backed them up the same way we do client photos so they are never going away.  

This experience has changed the way we look at physical items like prints and albums.  We want to educate every couple we work with about our mistakes and why printing is so important.  The grand photos we print now from a silly day at the park or the beach far exceed the quality of our wedding photos that we printed.  I love seeing my kids huge smiles in a 20”x24” frame on our wall but seeing Rue in her wedding dress in the same frame would make my soul happy.  

We have been offering some print items from the beginning but have just recently added frame collections as well.  We want to be that one stop shop to encourage as many people as possible to print their photos.  Those real moments that we capture deserve to be showcased on your walls and you deserve artwork that you can display for eternity.  

Artwork For Your Walls

Engagement Session

view the story

I definitely miss summer the second it is gone.  I love the warm sunshine, a cool breeze off the water, and longer days.  Most of winter I just dream about the warmer months ahead.  Today, though, was different.  We met up with Nate and Samantha at Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva, Illinois for their engagement photo session at sunrise.  Yes, I said sunrise.  The timing was perfect with a little dusting of snow overnight that was untouched because it was so early and very few people were around. There were still flurries falling from the sky on this crisp morning.

How did the two of you meet?

We met at work. Samantha would come down to my floor to consult with a supervisor and I would find an excuse to come talk to her. To make her laugh I would make up stories about a tattoo she has. She told me she got it day drinking with some friends. I was not her type at all but I laid the charm on her, and we soon went on our first date. It was fun and exciting and nerve wracking all in one. I like to think we both realized the potential of what could be which made it all the more exciting and scary!

These two couldn’t decide between doing an in-home engagement session or at the forest preserve so we decided to do both.  It was great to be able to spend time outside capturing these moments and then drive to a warm house to get the more intimate feels that we love to have in all of our photos.  

Fabyan Forest Preserve Engagement Photos

What is your favorite date night like?

Our favorite date nights include going to a nice restaurant with some good food and wine, or staying in and ordering a pizza, watching a movie, and drinking wine. Pretty much as long as we have wine, we’re having a good time.

What are you most excited about for your wedding day?

Being able to celebrate the love and life we’ve created with our family and friends, and just being able to let loose.

We definitely enjoy doing upgraded engagement sessions in the Chicago area because it’s so much fun getting the different looks that come with it and we get to spend more time with our couples.

Snowy Fabyan Forest Preserve Engagement Session


view the story

Covid has definitely changed the way we all do things. Some of us have been affected more than others. Some of us take it more seriously than others. Regardless of your personal views, it is here and we all are dealing with it in our own ways. In all the negativity and division that came in 2020 we wanted to try to take some positives into 2021 by reflecting on what changed for the better during this time. One of the ways we have seen positive changes in the wedding industry is the emergence of more small weddings. These smaller, more intimate, events have just seemed so special.  There is so much more focus on the couples themselves, their immediate family, close friends, and the reason everyone is there that day – To celebrate the love of two individuals that want to commit to each other for the rest of their lives.

Fabyan Forest Preserve Wedding Photos

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Funk. Two adorable love birds that contacted us last minute for an intimate backyard wedding at their home in the Chicago suburbs. During our initial chat on the phone they said they were hoping for a little snow to really make this a winter wedding. They didn’t get the snow they asked for but they did get a pretty good winter alternative being partly sunny and forty degrees in December.

We spent about four hours with these two with the “getting ready’ photos, bridal portraits, groom portraits, ceremony photos, and a 1 ½ hour session at Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva, Illinois.  We wanted them to have their full wedding story told through their photos so they could re-live this day for the rest of their lives every time they look at their wedding album.

The love between these two is obvious. The way they look at each other, talk to each other, and seem to be always touching.  It was such an emotional event because of how emotional they were. Everything was about just being together and celebrating privately as newlyweds. They waited to read their vows until they were alone at the forest preserve, had their first dance alone at Fabyan Woods, and just really seemed to enjoy every single moment they had with one another. 

Intimate At-Home Backyard Chicagoland Wedding

Engagement Information

view the story

Engagement photos are often seen as a “tossed-in” item when choosing a wedding photographer but they should be so much more. The engagement process is the first step in a long journey of planning one of the biggest events of your lifetime, your wedding day. This journey should be celebrated, cherished, and remembered forever. Rue and I like to take the time and invest in our engagement couples in the same manner that we invest in our couples that are getting married; you deserve it. Our couples get an opportunity to get in front of the camera together, often for the first time, and get a feel for what that’s like before their big day.

You have your own personality and style, of course. You may have a vision for your engagement photo style and we also have our own style that we typically photograph. However, the options for styles, outfits, and locations are endless (and even overwhelming!), so I wanted to take some time to try and break them down a bit to make choosing a little easier. Now, it’d be great if we could have an engagement session in a wooded city next to a grassland on the beach all while walking through an abandoned building, but Illinois doesn’t really offer that (if you know where this unicorn exists, please hit me up). The great thing about all of the locations in this blog is that you can change the vibe just by going from formal wear to a more casual look. I was going to dive into the specific on different clothing styles here but then I realized Rue should probably write that since I struggle to dress myself appropriately most days.

Types of engagement photography locations:

  • Industrial
  • Cityscape
  • Beachfront
  • Grasslands
  • Home bodies
  • Woodsy


The industrial look is trendy right now and can work with both formalwear and a more casual look. The colors, the grit, and the just naturally tough look makes for some amazing photos. Take a look at the Fulton River District session we recently did.


We have this really cool spot that no one knows about, but I’ll let you know since it’s just the two of us here. It’s called downtown Chicago. The opportunities are endless here because you can get 3-4 vibes just by walking 3-4 blocks. Our River North session was our favorite.


Beachfront engagement photos are some of my personal favorite. There is just something about a couple dressed to the nines with their shoes off kicking up sand that makes me smile for days. Warm, colorful sand and some of Chicagoland’s best sunsets are timeless photo backgrounds. We took these two lovebirds to Kemil Beach


What does Illinois have an unlimited supply of? Grasslands. No matter where you live in the area, I can almost guarantee you there is a forest preserve with a beautiful prairie within twenty minutes. They are super popular right now and really make photos pop with the colorful greens and flowers in the spring and summer while providing those warm color feels in the fall.

Home Bodies

We meet quite a few couples that just want to capture their engagement in their natural habitat. If that describes you then this may be a good option for you. The comfort of being in your own space really seems to let people be themselves and open up for the camera


Almost any time of the year is a great time to find a tree lined path or street for some really moody, romantic, and colorful engagement photos. Deep greens… Fall colors… Snow covered branches… You name it and it looks good in these locations.

These six general locations/styles are pretty broad. You could break these down further and have subcategories but being a little more general allows for some flexibility to capture your moments in multiple styles possibly in one location. Hopefully we have already chatted, and this is just helping you narrow down your style, but if we haven’t let’s connect and chat about what will work best for your personalities and your vision. We want your engagement photos to fit you and your style, so let’s make this happen together.

6 Types of Stunning Chicagoland Engagement Photo locations

Engagement Session

view the story

Should This Be Our New Favorite Location?

Colleen and Josh… there is so much I could say about these two, but none of which would describe how they made us feel as human beings. It took me the entire ride home to figure out the connection, the connection that made me feel drawn to Colleen. Rue was still giddy from this amazing session and talking about how much she loved spending time with them because they were so honest and real. That’s when it hit me, Colleen is just like Rue…. Honest…. Funny…. Beautiful…. Compassionate… and so many other wonderful things that I can’t even find the words to describe. 2020 has been a rollercoaster year and this was exactly what we needed to cap it off.

How did you meet?

We met in HS when where we shared a US history class freshman year. We both felt it was wonderful to find a friend so quickly, even though we hadn’t shared any prior schooling together.

Colleen and Josh are having a destination wedding later next year (somewhere much warmer than Chicago) so winter engagement photos will be a great contrast to the tropical wedding photos.

What is your favorite date night like?

We are the ultimate homebodies. An ideal date night is grilling up our favorite food to enjoy. That’s typically followed by playing a game of some sort – some of our favorites are: dominoes, Yahtzee, chess, and euchre!

Rue and I have been eyeing the Fulton River District in downtown Chicago for engagement photos for quite some time. We wanted a place where we could capture everything the city offers, and this place did not disappoint. I know, I know, its December in Chicago and I should just move somewhere else if I am going to complain about the weather, but it was COLD!! I will say however, I learned a lesson from the last shoot and wore some warmer boots so I could actually feel my toes while driving home. I guess you just have to look at the positives.

What has been your favorite part about wedding planning?

Knowing that at the end of it all, we’ll be together with everyone we love on a beach in Mexico!

What would be your best advice you would give to newly engaged couples?

Enjoy your engagement! While wedding planning is not without its challenges, it’s an incredible opportunity to work as teammates and have fun with your partner.

Engagement photography is all about capturing the love between two people, and there was certainly no shortage of genuine love and connection between Colleen and Josh. They had so much fun and showed off their goofy sides throughout. The funny poses, piggy back rides, dancing, and jumping…. That was all them, we did not prompt them to do those things! Just two real people being real. What’s not to love?

If you want to see some other locations, go check out our 6 Stunning Chicago Locations for Engagement Photos blog post.

Fulton River District Engagement Session

Engagement Session

view the story

Cold weather… Flurries… Sleet…. Overcast skies….

None of this would have stopped Hailey and Andrew from joining us in River North for an amazing session with this beautiful backdrop. I have to admit I was cold, but I definitely wasn’t going to complain since Hailey was being such a trooper with a sleeveless dress. Getting to know these two was so much fun and really made this cold, wet weather much easier to handle.

How did you meet? What was it like?

“We met at work when we were younger. Andrew and my mom worked together before I started there. Andrew had heard my mom listening to recordings of me singing and asked who she was listening to. My mom, later on, gave Andrew my phone number to try and play match maker. However, this only embarrassed me because I did not know him yet. When Andrew introduced himself, I brushed it off. This only made Andrew want to know me more. So, he began changing his schedule so he was my trainer. Since we spent so much time together, we really got to know one another, and then we began dating. My mom will still say it was her doing that we ended up together.”

Hailey and Andrew were amazing. They were constantly smiling and laughing with one another while just being super adorable. The love they have for each other was so clear in the way they interacted together. Hailey was constantly looking to touch Andrew and he was always reaching his hand out to help her when she needed it. They have been together five years and are getting married at the end of May at Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park. It is really easy to do your job as an engagement and wedding photographer when the couples love for each is so natural like this.

What is your favorite date night like?

“We love to go out to La Mex for dinner, and to get our favorite strawberry mango margarita. It’s a pretty laid-back date night that we enjoy because it allows us to catch up on the little things that we might have missed out on one another because of how crazy life can get.”

Between the Chicago Riverwalk, The Merchandise Mart, and the Wells Street bridge this River North setting was perfect for an overcast Sunday afternoon engagement session. Sure, it rained, sleeted, and snowed all at the same time, but that didn’t stop us. Rue and I have a lot of fun shooting engagement sessions together because we can capture all these little moments in between when one of us is switching lenses or changing spots. It can be a lot more work but it really gives our clients a greater variety of photos, and who doesn’t want that?!

What are you most excited about for your wedding day?

“We are both excited to read our own vows to one another, because we are writing them ourselves. This will be a very personal and emotional part of our big day that we have looked forward to for years.”

We loved hanging out with these two and I’m sure their wedding day will be just as magical. Congratulations you two, you truly are wonderful together.

If you want to see some other locations, go check out our 6 Stunning Chicago Locations for Engagement Photos blog post.

Chicago Winter Engagement Session in River North

Engagement Session

view the story

Dreamy. Candid. Beautiful. Full of love. Magical. Magazine-worthy. Fun. High-end. Special.

It has been a challenge to come up with the right words to start this post because so many emotions ran through my mind while photographing this beautiful couple during an engagement session. We laughed together, cried together, laughed so hard we cried together, and witnessed some of the most amazing moments we have seen so far between two human beings. This was an unforgettable experience for sure.

Meet Macy and Dustin, two people obviously made for each other. You can see it in every way they function together and apart. Their eyes are almost always on one another and when they aren’t they are touching. During the first phone consultation and the entire engagement photo session they were smiling and laughing about some inside joke or something that was happening in the moment. It was truly magical to witness.

How did you two meet? What was your first date like? Tell us your story.
We met at a wedding and I (Macy) pursued him because I knew I wanted to be with him and I didn’t want him to get away. He texted me one day when he happened to be in the area that I lived and finally asked me out. We went out to dinner and then headed for the beach to sit by the water and talk. It started pouring rain but we were both enjoying it so much that we stayed in the rain just to be together. We finally packed up and went back to his car to find that his battery was dead. So there, drenched with rain on our first date, I met his parents when they came to give his car battery a jump.

The Session
Macy and Dustin decided on two locations with two different looks: a casual, cozy forest vibe and then a serene beach session. The first half, the cozy session, was full of warm sweaters and laughing snuggles. The second half featured Dustin in a sleek, navy suit and Macy in a gorgeous dress from Sheln, finding their deep connection for each other on the sandy dunes overlooking Lake Michigan.

What is your favorite date night like?
Our favorite date night is just a simple Friday night drinking wine and watching Dateline. We just cuddle up on the couch enjoy being together. Other than that, board games are our jam. We could lose an entire night playing “What Do You Meme?” or “Cards Against Humanity” (Their favorite card in the game, while funny, was a little to risqué to end up in the blog post).

I feel like I would normally have more to say but I think the photos speak for themselves. This couple truly has me at a loss for words. What an incredible evening with these sensational human beings.

If you want to see some other locations, go check out our 6 Stunning Chicago Locations for Engagement Photos blog post.

Winter Beachfront Engagement Session at Kemil Beach

Engagement Session

view the story

The Gathering Barn Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin

Waking up this morning, I was surprised by the amount of snow I found outside my suburban Chicago home. It was just a light dusting, and it was already starting to be melted away by the steady rainfall, but for a moment, I was taken back to November 8th, 2019 when another unexpected snowfall occurred.

We were referred to Missy and Kyle from another client (and friend) and we immediately hit it off! Missy and Kyle laughed their way through their engagement session and we were already getting antsy thinking that we had the honor of being their wedding photographer. I can still remember how excited Missy was while talking about the engagement and planning her vision for the wedding. The engagement session was flawless, but how could it not be with such a gorgeous couple?! I was mesmerized by the amount of love they shared between each other in those moments.

Next up: the wedding day!!

I remember the day so vividly, leaving Illinois to drive up to Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. Our destination was The Gathering Barn, the venue for Missy and Kyle’s Wedding. Missy had a vision of being outside on the beautiful property for their wedding and their photos, but the weather had some other plans. It was bitterly cold and the light blanket of snow made your feet just wet enough that after a few minutes you couldn’t feel your toes anymore. It seemed as if her wedding vision may be changed.

Most brides would have been disappointed, but not Missy, she was determined to make her vision come to life. The bridal party and groomsmen assembled inside their own bridal suites on separate sides on the property. The natural light flowing through the windows in each suite made for the most beautiful photos, and thanks to the propane heaters, we all stayed warm (and a little light-headed).

After the ceremony, the sun was in the perfect place for golden hour photos. Missy, undeterred by snow, wore her little jelly flats and walked around the entire property with us to capture as many moments as possible. I know I couldn’t feel my toes and fingers and I was much more covered than she was from the cold weather that day. Even with the snow, cold weather, and changes to the “plan,” Missy had the day she was so excited to have for so long.

After nearly getting frostbitten, we all went inside to warm up and enjoy some delicious food and dancing. The reception was also at The Gathering Barn and they surely delivered a wonderful space. The venue was large enough that no one felt crowded and with the cold weather outside it was a cozy retreat for the evening. Dinner was fantastic, the speeches were tear jerkers, and the desserts by Poppy Cakes were to die for. It was a day any bride, although somewhat unexpected, would love to have.

Snowy Wedding at The Gathering Barn