Engagement photography | eighthandsweddings.com

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

Engagement Information

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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

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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

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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

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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