Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer


Brett Surprises Kelsey at Starved Rock – Proposal Photography

Fall Colors & A Pro-Photographer Dressed Like a Tourist

For the second month in a row I found myself at the Illinois State Park Straved Rock to shoot a proposal. Luckily for me, this time I wasn’t the rouse in-front of the proposal. It was actually pretty easy this time around. Especially once the weather held out and the couple came away with some beautiful moments captured on camera.


Brett got in touch with me about doing the hidden photographer thing while he popped-the-question to Kelsey on one of the paths at Starved Rock. His plan was to find the right moment when nobody else was around on the path and get down on one knee. I just had to look as ordinary as possible so as not to create any suspicion. So I threw on some hiking boots, cargo pants and a backpack and made my way out to the path he planned on using.

I made sure to arrive nice and early and the place was already packed, as the fall colors were just starting to come out and I was worried that Brett was never going to find the right time to pop-the-question as the trails were almost as busy as the Chicago lake front path in the summer. A few text messages after they arrived I spotted the couple walking down some stairs towards me. Ironically I was giving some camera tips to some other fall color fans and I’m sure that helped me blend right in.

161015-engagement-1029I kept watch out of the corner of my eye as the two walked past. It really is a wonderful part of my profession to be able to be in on the secret and know something like this is about to happen. After a brief walk up some stairs Brett slowed down and dropped to one knee at the end of a long straight-away. Prefect placement on his part as I was far enough back to not be noticed and yet still have a perfect view. It took Kelsey a few steps before she realized Brett had stopped, at which point her phone just dropped right out of her hand.

I think the images below will help fill in the rest of the story. Like “did she say yes?”

Also, I have to give a big thank you to the random family who helped make the photo shoot even better, by helping me make it rain leaves in front of the recently engaged for one of the portraits we took.



Hey, random family at Starved Rock, I don’t know who you were, but thank you for throwing some leaves in the air to really make this photo.




See more photos from the engagement here.

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Hannah’s Surprise at Starved Rock – Proposal Photography

Hannah’s Surprise Proposal

Most of the time when I’m photographing a wedding proposal my job is to hide, or blend in with the crowd, so the person being proposed to is none the wiser. On this day however, not only was it not required for me to be hidden, I was the ruse for why Stephen & Hannah were in Starved Rock.  The guise of this proposal scheme was that I, a rugby teammate of Stephen, was in need of a couple to photograph at Starved Rock. Stephen, using the old “I have to work, I’ll meet you there” trick, had his friend & roommate Rich, drive Hannah to Starved Rock and meet us. Below is how the day unfolded in pictures.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

The ring ready to go in a Batman themed box Stephen made. Yes, believe it, not Hannah’s a huge Batman fan. (Lucky guy).

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

List of friends & family who will be holding signs on a path to Lover’s Leap.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

A video & slide show of friends, family, and a dog, who couldn’t make it.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

Lots of tears & joy as Hannah is kind of figuring out what might be going down at the end of this trail.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

All is about to be revealed and luckily for Hannah, it’s Stephen & not the Joker.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

In the canyons of Starved Rock.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.

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Did Maroon 5 Really Crash Weddings?

Did Maroon 5 Crash Weddings for Their New Music Video?

Best Wedding Reception Ever!

Did Maroon 5 really crash a bunch of weddings in Los Angeles? Well after watching this video ourselves [see the full video below] we questioned how authentic the video may be. After all it’s not hard to find a couple hundred extras in L.A. to stand in as wedding guests.

But after doing a little bit of searching for videos & photos from weddings that may have been crash, we have to admit this might be one of the coolest publicity stunts with a wedding theme we’ve seen in history.

Whether, or not couples will be asking DJ’s to play “Sugar” this wedding season remains to be seen, but we have to admit watching brides’ lips say “WTF?” in some of the outtakes is priceless [watch at the 1 minute mark] and the song is pretty catchy.

If You Don’t Have An Album, You’re Doing It Wrong!

Have you ever asked yourself, “What do I really need a photographer at my wedding for?”

Photo copyright of Vincent David Johnson.


“You Can’t Print An Excuse”. It’s been almost 20 years since I heard those words for the first time. It’s what every photo editor, at any publication will tell you if you don’t get the shot, or miss the assignment all-together. Hopefully for your wedding you received photos and not an excuse, but chances are you’re like so many couples today who stopped at “getting photos” part of the process and didn’t move onto the “print” part.

 My wife & I paid for the majority of our own wedding, so I understand budget reasons when it comes to getting a heirloom quality album you can pass on to future generations, but if you’re thinking just sharing them on the internet is good enough, then I have to tell you “you’re doing it wrong“.

Putting all snark aside, I’m not suggesting you need to get an elaborate album like the one I just finished for a couple who’s wedding I shot last year (above photo). Believe it or not, while my wife has put together 3 small albums with various 4×6 photos printed out, ten years later we still have nothing close to the amazing albums I make for my clients, but we have something that is tangible.

What I’m really getting at is your phone, or laptop are no way to show off your wedding photos when you have guests over, or once your children are born and old enough to look at them. I bring this up because it just so happens that the day I was shipping off one of my latest albums, I also read an article from a journalism school on how text is making a transition to mobile, but photography might be getting skipped over.

Why spend all that time on picking out the perfect locations, design pieces, cake, dress and more? Securing a good photographer for your wedding day is a waste if you never print up the images beyond a few photos for your wall, or office desk. Beyond the love & vows of weddings, the day itself, above all else, is a spectacle and is designed to be photographed and displayed larger than the palm of your hand.


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