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Being a Chicago based wedding photography company we have become well versed in the areas surrounding us and the local venues that we love.  An area we were not familiar with is Freeport, IL.  I have to be honest, when this couple first contacted us I definitely had to pull up a map to see where it was.  It was over a two hour drive, but man was it worth it. 

Meet Catherine and Jake, two amazingly accomplished individuals that match their brain power with incredible personalities.  From the first day we talked to these two Rue and I knew we would be a great fit for each other.  Listening to their plans of bringing a backyard wedding up a few levels to a grand event with the finest details made me want to capture it even more.  

Jake made my job so easy.  From the second I stepped into the room I felt like we were on the same page.  He was so laid back, even though he tried to tell me he was nervous.  Nothing seemed to bother him and his go with the flow mentality made the entire event go so smoothly.  There is so much going on during these times and so much to think about but he took every minute he could to truly enjoy the time with his groomsmen and appreciate everything that was taking place.

Catherine was equally as laid back and go with the flow.  The only times I remember seeing her without a smile on her face were the times we asked her for a more serious look for a photo.  Even then, I think she really struggled turning that smile off, and that thing was contagious.  Every person from bridesmaids, to parents, to guests, and vendors couldn’t help but grin every time she walked by.  

The day was flawless of course, but that was not by accident.  Alexandra and Brianna from Weddings by Danica were on site to coordinate everything.  They handled everything like the true professionals they are.  We appreciate great coordinators and so did Catherine and Jake.  Catherine said, “They both did a fantastic job directing everyone both days! I highly recommend them to anyone that’s looking for a day of coordinator!”  

Also, what wedding reception is complete without a great MC?  Catherine and Jake hired DJ Harsh as their DJ and I have to say out of all the weddings I have been to, Harsh is amazing.  His personality, style, and ability to make the party happen was incredible.  He was there the entire time to help us make announcements and get everyone on the dance floor when it was time.  Catherine said, “DJ Harsh! He stayed on for an extra hour and even stayed to enjoy the party. He did a great job making sure our music was how we wanted it! It was a pleasure working with him!”

After the wedding dust has settled and the bride and groom come down off their wedding day high we like to take a minute to ask them how things went and what advice they have for future brides and grooms.  

What was your favorite part about wedding planning?

Watching everything and everyone come together at the end. I was really impressed with our vendors!

What advice do you have for future brides and grooms?

It’s never too early to start planning!

What is your favorite memory of the day itself?

Walking down isle and seeing Jake there.

Every single wedding we photograph is unique.  Some may be at the same venue or use the same vendors but there are always little things that make it stand out in its own way.  Take the time to plan your day and surround yourself with quality vendors that will make your wedding day memories even better.  

Coordinators – Weddings by Danica

Photography – Eight Hands Photography

Hair & Make-up – Studio 218

DJ Service – DJ Harsh

Florist – Deininger Floral Shop

Rentals – North Park Rental Co.

Caterer – Hilldale Deli

No Details Were Spared for This June Backyard Wedding


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It is always fun hanging new photos on the wall. A new memory has been created, preserved, and now hung on the wall to tell the story for as long as it is there. The funny thing about these memories turned into art is that at different times in our lives different memories will hold more importance than others. Your life will change and so will the artwork you show off on your walls. As pets and kids get older the photos will be replaced with more current versions that hold more relevance in your current world.

The exception to this rule is wedding photos. Wedding photos don’t typically get updated because it is a one time event. There aren’t any newer versions to replace them with, I hope. That, to me, is the biggest reason why couples invest so much more into wedding photos than any other photos in their lives.

Preserving these memories happens in many different ways. As you know, Rue and I preach backing your photos up in many different places. That is a big reason why we started including USB photo delivery, to add another layer of back-up on top of our cloud back-up we provide. One of the other preservation techniques is printing the photos that are most important to you.

There are many places to print photos but they are not all the same. Ensuring that your print company uses the highest quality photo paper is one of the most important steps. We have tried several different labs and have not been happy with the results until the lab we use now. They use high quality paper and printers to ensure that the photos can last 100 years or more without color loss or degrading.

Equally as important is mounting your photos the proper way. This is a several step process that can be very time consuming but it ensures that your photos are preserved the proper way and will reduce any problems later on. Simple things like the wrong tape can eat away at your photo over time or lose their adhesive qualities and drop the photo inside the frame.

Every collection that we provide comes with the photos you select mounted on proper, acid free backing with acid free tape and are finished with a dust cover to help keep your photo clean and clear for the next 100 years.

Preserving Your Investment

Engagement Session

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When most couples are choosing a wedding photographer they, understandably so, decide using the portfolio of several different companies.  It’s not often the case that we get to come face to face with our prospective clients so that our personalities and photography work make the first impression at the same time.  This is usually only the case at wedding expo’s.  We don’t typically do them but at the beginning of this year we decided to give one a try.  Between Rue’s design skills catching passerby’s eyes and my ability to talk someone’s ear off until they are forced to pretend to like me, we stood a decent chance.  

That expo is where we met Kendella.  We chatted for quite a while and I knew instantly that we were going to get along great.  You meet so many people at expos that it is sometimes hard to remember ever personality so I put her at the top of my list to contact as soon as possible.  Anyone who knows how we run Eight Hands knows that we love to send video texts to new clients to introduce ourselves and show our faces.  I made my video for Kendella just hoping I would hear back from her and have the opportunity to work for her.  For the first, and still the last time to this date, Kendella responded unlike any other client has before.  She responded with a video message of her own.  That right there sealed the deal for me, I didn’t care what needed to happen, I wanted to be a part of her wedding day.

Screening clients through multiple methods prior to booking helps Rue and I make sure that it is a couple we really want to work with.  We spend so much time getting to know our couples that we need to really like them.  We don’t buy into the volume business models but invest heavily in quality.  Quality comes from making our couples comfortable with us and in front of the camera.  From comfortability comes trust.  From trust comes real moments.  From real moments comes beautiful candid memories from your wedding day.

We chatted with Kendella and William over a group text after the initial consult to nail down engagement dates and locations.  After a lot of discussion they decided on Kemil beach.  My favorite couples are the couples that include each other in the decision making processes just like Kendella and William.  After a few more phone calls discussing the location, timeline, and outfit/session pointers, we were ready to shoot.  

William was pretty quiet on the phone calls/texts/zoom meetings so I didn’t have a good handle on who he was as a person yet.  From the second we started talking at the beach prior to the engagement session I felt like I connected with him.  He was genuine (my favorite, and pretty rare, human quality), happy, and truly in love with Kendella.  You could see his joy through every little and big smile he sent her way.   The two of them said they had really never been photographed professionally so getting them comfortable was number one.  I won’t give away all of our tricks but there was plenty of talking and games that went on to create the real moments that we try so hard for.

The session was incredible as you can see for yourself.  How could it not be? Kendella and William are so happy, so in love, and so beautiful together.  Meeting up with them to reveal their  engagement photos and build their engagement album just solidified my feelings toward all the time we put into making them as comfortable as possible on their engagement session.  They were so happy with the result and told me numerous times how much fun it was and how happy they were that it wasn’t awkward.  We can’t wait to capture their wedding day in October and hope to continue our friendship long beyond their wedding day.

I guess my summary of this post could have been left at the above paragraph but I still feel like I haven’t hit the important things I really wanted to get out to the future clients or others browsing our site.  The big takeaway I want everyone to have here is that your wedding photographer should be so much more than just a wedding day photographer.  I know I am biased but I truly believe it is one of, if not the, most important aspects of your day.  Photographs and video are the only documentation of the entire day.  That can’t be left to just anyone, or someone you don’t know or trust.  Get to know the actual photographer that will be there on your wedding day, not some random person assigned by a big company.  If they aren’t interested in getting to know you, are they really interested in your wedding?

Chicagoland Sunset Engagement Session on Lake Michigan


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It was a long drive to Libertyville but well worth it in the end.

Rue and I had never heard of Independence Grove, much less been there. We have our favorite locations that we recommend to clients when they don’t have anything in mind but occasionally couples have their own plans already. We love the challenge of a spot we have never been before. It pushes us artistically and ultimately makes us better in the end. One of the best parts about this job is that every session is different. Even if we are at a location we have been to twenty times in the past something is always different. The couple is different, the weather is different, the lighting is different, and sometimes even the location looks a little different.

Sam and Chris picked this location because it was close to home and they loved the spot. Being so far away we used google maps and the locations website to get a good lay of the land before the session. We typically like to visit new locations before a session but this one was just too far away. Instead we relied on technology and then arrived an hour early to scope it out and come up with our game plan. Rain was going to be moving in right at the end of our session so we knew our time was limited.

These two decided to go with the Local Explorers Engagement session which gave us more time with them and them the opportunity to change into another outfit for two different looks. Rue loves these sessions because couples really get to express their personalities through multiple outfits. The casual, real person look, and then the formal wear for your living room wall look.

We can’t wait for more challenges ahead with new locations and couples. Where do you want to take us?

Independence Grove Engagement Session


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Engagement photos at Morton Arboretum are just magical!

The Morton Arboretum holds a special place in our hearts. We have been there many times over the years but the most memorable time was when we had Cora’s one year old photos taken there. Every time we drive past the location it brings me back in time. Every couple we bring through there gets to hear us get all sappy describing what it was like and how we miss those times.

Ashley and Joe were no different. We met them at the gates and they hopped in with us for the tour around Morton Arboretum and the story of our daughters one year old photos. It is always an interesting conversation because I remember what I was like before I had kids, tired of hearing about other people’s kids! They didn’t seem put off by it at all though.

The best part about engagement photos at Morton Arboretum is that you can drive around this park and having almost every look any couple could ever want in one session. Do you want photos in the woods? Morton Arboretum has that! Do you want photos by water/ponds? Morton Arboretum has that! Do you want tall grass or meadows filled with flowers? Morton Arboretum also has that! The possibilities of this place are endless.

Rue and I definitely have our favorite locations but we are always up for something different. If you are up for an adventure, let us know!

Spring Engagement Photos at Morton Arboretum


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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

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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


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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

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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


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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