Everybody knows that wedding days are important, but some might argue engagements are even more so — everyone loves a good engagement story. Whether the proposal happens on one knee or in the middle of a skydive, a talented photographer can document moments you might otherwise forget. Whether it’s the smile of a bride-to-be or the groom who can’t believe his luck, engagement photos capture the magic before all the pageantry (and sometimes chaos!) of the wedding materialize. Engagements are special and solitary; there are no family or friends around, but simply two people in the moment and the best Chicago engagement photographers there to capture it.
1. Carol DeAnda
Born and raised in Illinois, Carol DeAnda realized her calling in high school: photography. After attending Harrington College of Design for digital photography, she made the move to begin photographing weddings in 2010. Her photos make great use of lines and lighting, intent on using the natural backdrops of rural and urban Chicago as frames. She ranges between producing artistic shots and straight-up portraits, all of which focus squarely on the couple at their heart.
Girl from the ‘burbs Kerri Carlquist is rarely seen without her camera in her hand. Now calling Chicago home, she’s a keen and frequent traveler. Her approach is to invite couples into her world as much as they’re letting her into theirs. Getting to know the couples’ own personal traits, likes, and dislikes, Carlquist takes each of these into account when framing or shooting her portraits.
Originally a portrait photographer for families and children, it wasn’t until recently Nicole Defilippis realized how much she loved shooting weddings. Taking photographs for more than a decade, Defilippis is a completely self-taught photographer. Using the advantages of natural lighting, she knows exactly where and how to scout a location to make her couples’ special days ones they’ll never forget.
4. Mark Trela
If you’re looking for a documentary-style Chicago engagement photographer, look no further than Mark Trela and his wife, Magda. You can’t go wrong when it comes to capturing love if those capturing it are also experiencing it. The Trelas use stunning combinations of the Chicagoan landscape and scenery to make their engagement sessions stand out. Their photographs are raw, capturing spontaneous emotions when you least expect them in ways that makes for stunning portraits.
Based in Chicago and Peoria, Shannon Lee Brachbill fell in love with photography during a summer spent in California. Inspired by faith and love, Brachbill’s dream engagement shoot is up in the mountains where nobody else is. Her photographs use a lot of muted and desaturated tones, bringing a truly Chicago flavor to each and every session.
Rom-com lover Victoria Saint Martin was primed to become a wedding and engagement photographer. A self-confessed hopeless romantic, Saint Martin is keen on going out of her way to make her clients feel relaxed. An essential skill when it comes to portrait photography, her sessions hinge on connection. There’s also a lovely sense of motion and action in many of them — the photos feel alive and thriving. She’s also not afraid to pack her bags to get the shots: Saint Martin will travel anywhere to capture your precious moments.
7. Lisa Hufford
Artist Lisa Hufford wants to make her engagement photographs pop. From classic and traditional shots to bright splashes of natural color, Hufford has it covered. Ever since seeing a photograph of her grandparents getting married, she’s wanted to take those kinds of photographs for other couples — ones that become as big a part of your family history as any written word or vow. So far, she’s doing a wonderful job of it.
Between them, Andre and Maria LaCour have a wealth of photographic and cinematographic experience. Andre is an award-winning photographer and one of Chicago’s most reputable with shots in dozens of Chicagoan wedding publications. Maria, on the other hand, has more than 20 years of experience in the field, as well as a keen perception of human beings. Together, the LaCours bring something unique to their photography, whether individually or apart, a combination of viewpoints and skill sets that add up to more than the sum of their parts.
Meet Peter Gubernat: photographer, editor, storyteller, and craftsman. Named one of the top 22 wedding photographers in Chicago by Expertise.com for three years in a row, Gubernat does it all himself. Of course, being a wedding photographer this highly awarded also makes him one of the best Chicago engagement photographers. His approach to engagement photographs is simple in that he does so as the storyteller. In place of point-and-shoot, he becomes as comfortable a part of the scenery as any prop, ensuring your moment is your moment, whomever you’re sharing it with.
The best Chicago engagement photographers may shoot traditional romantically-posed portraits, or they may employ a photojournalistic approach to capture a loving moment or surprise proposal. But regardless of the style they’ve perfected, these artistic minds are never stale, unimaginative, or derivative — each understands that every couple’s personality is unique and makes sure their love is expressed authentically.