Never on earth has a photo session been filled with this much fun, gusto, or anticipation than this Chicago couple session with Kelly Del Valle and Kevin Johnson. From staying cozy in their west loop apartment, exploring the Chicago skyline and walking Randolph St with their pup, this session was one for the books and so special to my heart. To leave a session not drained, but energized, is something special and that’s what happened here.
In December of 2017, Kelly’s sister reached out to me and purchased a gift card for a pet friendly photo shoot as a Christmas gift for Kelly, her boyfriend and their dog, Randolph. She even purchased a second gift card for her brother and his fiancé who I was able to photograph lately as well. That’s another blog post! Kelly first reached out to me in January of 2018, so excited to begin planning her session. We chatted via email back and forth for weeks- in January! We decided on a May photography date so the sun would be shinning and we wouldn’t be freezing. Throughout the winter and spring, I would receive an Instagram message or Facebook likes from Kelly after posting highlights from my life or from other photo shoots, saying how she could not wait for our session. This made me so excited for her session because I knew my client A) cared enough about me to follow myself and my company and B) cared about having this photos taken.
Come session day when I finally got the meet Kelly and Kevin, it was like I already knew them. I was greeted at the door with hugs and doggy kisses after arriving at their apartment in the west loop of Chicago. It was hard to even begin shooting because we were chatting so much, catching up on life like we had been friends for our entire lives. They told me all about their recent trip to Africa and we swapped dog parenting stories. People, there was a bond!
Our session began on the roof of their apartment. I captured some sweet, candid family shots on the cabana. I usually like to begin session by warming up, shooting to find my correct settings and make my models as comfortable as possible. However, we did not need to warm up on this day! It was a high of 90 degrees and after my first few shots we discovered- it was hot!! We came together for some famous Chicago skyline portraits, a great perk of living where they do, and quickly moved on to the next part of our session in the shade.
Kelly and Kevin wanted to have a few photos taken in front of one of their favorite restaurants in the city, Maude’s. Maude’s is their place to visit when they are celebrating something big. They love to rustic, quaint atmosphere with the classic French menu. So many couples choose a park or forest location for photos. So these quickly became some of my favorite! Everything about these images just worked. The blue awning, painted walls, the white outfits contrasting against the wicker outdoor furniture and of course Randolph posing with mom and dad.
The one memory Kelly wanted captured the most was her, Kevin and Randolph standing in front of a Randolph St street sign in the west loop. Since our early conversations back in January, Kelly spoke about getting this captured. It’s no coincidence where Randolph got his name. He is a true Chicago pup! Now this shot wasn’t easy to capture. What you don’t see in this photo is me flirting the red light timers, dodging cars as I make my way through the streets with my camera and stand on a narrow median across the street. I had Kelly and Kevin stand on the median directly across from me, under a street sign. And although no people or animals were harmed in the making of this photograph, it was not taken in a very pedestrian friendly area.
From every session, I have photos that I fall in love with. Not out of technical greatness- believe me! But out of sheer joy. They are usually captured when no one is looking or when we are walking, not even ready to shoot. These photos were after our shoot was over. Instead of putting away my camera, I kept it out. You know, just in case. And was able to photograph these lifestyle, in-between memories. So family, if you ever wonder what Kelly, Kevin and Randolph look like walking along the sidewalk- this is it! #models
When my bag was packed and ready, I think I still hung around for a half hour chatting away. I was able to bond was well with Kelly and Kevin and even form a friendship past having them as a photography client. This was a session that was in the makings for months. To be honest, planning for a May shoot while in January was hard. And required a lot of patients. Something that I have none of. But looking back on their album, being so grateful for the beautiful weather and starting an amazing friendship all lead me to see what a virtue it is to wait.