Matt & Ali | Engaged

Whew. This story already makes me want to cry...ALL THE FEELS!

Where to even begin?

Let's rewind to December 2012 when I met Matt. He is full of energy and spunk, knows how to have a good time and can put a smile on your face no matter what's going on. I met Matt through a mutual friend and well, it's easy to say that we've been good friends ever since! He has a radiance about him that I can't quite explain. I've never seen the man in a bad mood and he's always been supportive of his friends and family. I can't speak more highly of him!

Fast forward to a year later, Matt begins to bring his new girlfriend, Ali, around. Everyone loved Ali from the moment we all met her. (Including Matt, duh. He just told me...and I quote "I mean we both laughed at the same stuff from the get go and sense of humor is huge for me.") She is ALSO full of good energy, smiles and has a huge heart. There was no hesitation to love Ali. She was genuine and from what we could all tell, they were falling for each other faster than we had ever imagined. They complimented each other well and it was a no-brainer that Matt would eventually ask Ali to be his wife...It was just a matter of time.

Matt and Ali lived in German Village together for quite some time. Ali had been struggling with her job and wasn't really sure if it was the correct career path for her. She applied for a job with Sony and within months, her and Matt found themselves driving cross country, relocating Ali for work because she GOT THE JOB! (Ali has a tendency to doubt her badass-ness. We all knew she would get the job, but we're our own worst critics, right?! She didn't think her interviews went well, but Sony proved her wrong!) Ali shared with me, upon taking the position with Sony, that this big move was pretty terrifying for her. There were a lot of unknowns, but I assured her that the only thing in life that is constant is CHANGE! Moving to the other end of the country and starting fresh with Matt, of course, was intimidating. Moves like that can be scary and those feelings were very normal.

On Saturday, April 22, 2017, Matt and Ali invited me to our favorite local pub, The Hey Hey, for some drinks and goodbyes. They were headed to So.Cal much faster than anticipated. I had just got off work and decided to go and have a drink with them because I didn't know when I would see them next. I walked in, hugged them both and we chatted a bit about their move. After my one drink (I promised myself only ONE!), I started walking to my car and the next thing I knew, Matt was screaming "Whitney! Wait! Wait up! I have to ask you something really important!" I surprisingly turned around (Matt never chases me out of a building so I figured it would be important...) and he exclaimed "I need you to be at Schiller Park tomorrow at 7:30am PROMPT. I'm proposing to Ali near the umbrella girl and I want you to photograph it. I don't care how much it costs, I just want it documented! Do you want to see the ring?!" (Mind you, Matt has been designing this GORGEOUS ring for what felt like years. I've been lucky enough to watch the progress of the ring and it finally was complete to his liking. I started crying!)

The word "YES!" couldn't come out of my mouth fast enough. I wouldn't miss that for the world. I couldn't wait to go home and sleep so that I could wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready!

Matt tied a tiny note to Wiggins (their youngest pup) that read "turn around" and used him as a aid in asking Ali to be his wife! As they approached the umbrella girl in the park, I hid behind a tree and captured the whole thing! Ali bent down to look at Wiggins and eventually saw the little note that directed her to turn around. When she did, Matt was on one knee with the ring and well, her reaction was PRICELESS! She looked at me as I crept out from the tree (looking like a sketchy homeless person, may I add. I had an onlooker who later mentioned to me that he was going to call the police on me because I looked like I was homeless and on drugs?! Always good to include all the details, right?!) Ali, of course, said yes and we all proceeded to walk around the park so that I could capture their adorable OFFICIAL little family!

I couldn't be more honored to be a part of that special moment and I'll remember it for the rest of my life. Did I ever mention how much I love my job?!

Congrats, Matt and Ali! I wish you a lifetime of happiness and love. I care for you both deeply and will always be here for you. I love you!

Retouching | Before + After

Happy 2017, everyone! Cheers to a fresh new start in the new year. I know some of us have goals and resolutions that we hope to stick to this year...I am sending out my good vibes and positivity that we can all attain them, especially if they're simple. (For example, one of my goals for 2017 is to focus more on flossing my teeth. I'm in a terrible habit of not doing it and my dentist is sure to point it out every 6 months! Tired of it, so I'm going to take 30 whole seconds out of my day each day to do it! I even wrote myself a note on my bathroom mirror with a dry-erase marker! I've found that notes help a lot too.)

Today, I'd like to touch base on what retouching looks like in the eyes of a photographer and what the client might miss being "behind the scenes." Each photographer has their own post-processing style, some being bright and bold, others being more "contrasty" and some being a bit more "soft" or "flow-y". Regardless of the style, each photographer all must dive into your hundreds (or even thousands) of images to choose the perfect ones and then retouch them to fit our liking as a photographer. We spend countless amounts of hours staring at a computer screen, sometimes taking longer breaks than we want to because we're constantly looking at a digital screen! There are also times that we must step away from retouching a session because all of the images sort-of run together. Stepping away and coming back refreshed is one of my favorite techniques because my job never gets boring! It's like coming back to a whole new session each time! (I recently had an eye appointment with a new optometrist and he shared with me that my eyes have drastically changed because I switched professions. I told him I quit working for the Starbucks Corporation in June and that I'm a full-time photographer now. He 100% blamed my computer for my change in eyesight! Crazy! Moral of the story, be sure to keep up with your Optometrist! An updated prescription can make a ton of difference and your eye health is SO important! Take care of them eyeballs!!!)

Okay, so back to the actual action of retouching. What is retouching, you ask?! Well, to put it simply, it's (for me) finding all ranges of the images' tones and then applying those tones to be 100% true. 100% blacks, whites and middle grays. I prefer Adobe Lightroom over Photoshop. I was taught how to use Lightroom in college and I feel that it is a program that respects the actual idea of the "truth" in photography. In contrast, Photoshop allows the user to completely turn an image into a lie, and to me, that's not photography. Photography is TRUTH. Photography captures "facts". Actions in Photoshop, I think, allow the photographer to completely change an image into what it is not.

As a Professional Photographer, I get asked frequently after MANY sessions if I could slim faces, hips, waists and other body parts while in my post-processing mode. My answer is always going to be NO. I studied photography as an art in college. I learned the truth of this medium and that's why I love it. I refuse to change my style due to clients not wanting to accept the "truth" about their images. If you want your body parts fixed/retouched in post-processing, I hate to say this, but it's the truth and I back it up...I am NOT the photographer for you! If you want raw, real and truthful images...moments captured that other photographers aren't focused on, I'm your girl! The truth is such a beautiful thing!!!!