photo credit (all of them!): Ingrid Bonne Photography
You guys - you're gonna want to hang out with Ingrid even after your wedding is over. She made us laugh the entire time during our company photoshoot last year, and we always jump at the chance to work with her.
hi ingrid! tell us about you!
OK, here it goes. By the way, I suck at these and ALWAYS look back and cringe at what I said! SO, I am a lover of love and fun, and I try to live life to the fullest each day even when it slaps me in the face. I feel like I have the most interesting, generous, intelligent, unique, and gorgeous friends in the galaxy and the most supportive and kind family one can have. I have had a million hair-brained schemes/wild ideas/adventurous life changes in my time and my friends and family have always given me the courage to keep dreaming. Biggest and wildest adventure yet? Fostering (to eventually adopt) three brothers, ages 11, 3, and 2...basically going from zero kids to three in mere months (and smack dab in the middle of my busiest wedding season ever last year!). It's a long story, but I've learned more about myself and what I am capable of in the past 5 months than in all the years of my life. And I am seriously proud of myself (and my husband!).
Three more fun personal tidbits about me: 1) I am first-generation Croatian and spoke Croatian and Italian before I could speak English. I spent half of my life performing all over the country (and Canada!) in Croatian folklore music and dance groups, and I am still close to many of my friends from the Croatian community. 2) I lived in a small ski resort town in the mountains of Switzerland in the mid-90's and waitressed/bartended/snowboarded for a whole year while trying to figure out what to do with my life. I didn't figure it out until many many years later, but damn that was fun! 3) I was an actor for a chunk of time and really loved it but didn't have the desire to keep trying to "make it big" or the skin for all of the rejection. But I did get to perform in Amsterdam, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and even did a show at the New York Fringe Festival where I got to spend a few weeks as a performing actor in New York. I was also in a show that ran for 15 months every weekend at the Royal George Theatre, so I can actually say I was a paid actor (even though it wasn't much!). I've been really blessed to have an exciting life so far, and I am proud to say that I am the one that made it happen that way...I took giant risks and believed in myself and lived out lots of my dreams.
WELL... WE FEEL BORING NOW. TELL US ABOUT INGRID BONNE PHOTOGRAPHY.
My company, ingrid bonne photography, started out as Best Friend Photography + Design, a company I started while I was working as a graphic artist at Leo Burnett. I LOVED the people I worked with and the energy, but something was missing. When I started taking some photography classes at Columbia College for fun, I used my dog as a subject, and thought it would be a great idea to quit my job and become a pet photographer. I am spontaneous and sometimes to a fault. I had no business plan, no savings in the bank, and no job. I had to figure out a way to pay the bills and for years I freelanced while I built up my photography business. There were many times I had no idea how I was going to pay my mortgage, but something always came through, which proves my theory that if you believe in yourself, you can do ANYTHING. I discovered wedding photography when I answered a craigslist ad for a second shooter! Fast forward to 7 years later, I am already booked for this year and starting to book weddings for next year now! I've photographed so many amazing weddings in places like Mexico, England, and I'm even shooting a circus-themed wedding in Miami this February! I have met some of the coolest people and witnessed and captured breathtaking examples of love and support...I pinch myself daily!
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT CLIENT COUPLE.
I've had SO many perfect couples, this question is easy! I love couples that are fun and quirky and laugh a lot. You can see how much they are in love just by being in their presence: they are silly with each other, steal kisses, call each other dorky names, they can disagree but laugh about their disagreements, they respect each other even in disagreement, they have colorful personalities and they are crazy excited about their wedding but not obsessed. They really value photography and understand that their wedding photos will increase with value as time goes on. My perfect couples trust me to capture their day.
WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR COUPLES THAT OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS CAN'T?
Well, I want to say that what sets me apart from other photographers is that they are not me, therefore they cannot offer the same product/service that I do. Everyone is different, and there are SO many talented photographers out there. I recommend that couples meet with a handful whose work really moves them, and then if they feel connected to the person as well, it's sure to be a good fit. I take the time to get to know my couples. I spend time with them not just photographing them, but actually hanging out with them so that by their wedding date, we have inside jokes and we all feel comfortable together. I know I am not the only wedding photographer that does that, but I am the only ME and no one can connect with someone the way that I do. I am willing to guess that the couples whose wedding I have photographed may have found another photographer that could also capture their day well, but it's the experience of being with me (and my awesome team!) on their wedding day that sets me apart. Am I even making sense??!! I am a much better photographer than I am a writer ;)
HOW DO YOU MAKE COUPLES LIVES EASIER ON THE WEDDING DAY?
My couples know that I know them and what/who is important to them. So they can just sit back and enjoy their day. They're already comfortable with me so I'm not some stranger that is sticking a lens in their face, but I'm a friend who they trust and actually like, and I just happen to be holding a camera and pointing it at them! I think the key is to build a trusting relationship so on their wedding day, when a million things are happening and time moves in fast-forward speed, my couples know that I am capturing their story for them to experience over and over when they look through their wedding images.
WALK US THROUGH A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOU.
Oh gosh, no day is the same, but lately: I wake up at 5:30am, get my kids ready for school, my husband takes the 2 and 3 year old to preschool and I take the 11 year old to his school which is on the way to my studio. Then if I don't have a shoot scheduled or any meetings or networking events, I sit peacefully at my desk and edit/answer emails/blog/read stupid stuff on the internet/upload/download/make phone calls/snack/brainstorm/cyber network/schedule my week...until it's time to pick the 11 yr old up from school/basketball practice and then head home and make dinner, eat dinner, bathe the little ones, read them a book and put them to bed at which time I always think I will get some more work or housework done but I rarely ever do. Then I get up the next morning and do it again. My goal this year is to add exercise back into my schedule and try and do some more things for ME. At least until wedding season begins in May, at which point the above description of a day in my life will change drastically. Sigh.
What wedding websites, magazines, or resources would you recommend to couples?
I love Offbeat Bride.
What are you three favorite spots in Chicago, and why?
1) Maxwell Street Market: every time I go, I feel like I am on vacation in a different part of the world. I have purchased items such as jumper cables, leather coats, burritos, and music CDs and it's always a treat and a fun adventure!
2) The Beach: any beach really, but my favorites are Foster and Hollywood. Again, I feel like I am on vacation. Lake Michigan feels like an ocean to me. We have such a beautiful coastline!
3) The Alley: located on Belmont and Clark-ish, this spot is always fun and funky, as is the neighborhood and I love the energy...it reminds me of when I was first living in the city oh so long ago and that giddy excitement you feel in your 20s about life and what it holds for you.
What’s something you wish you could tell every single person who’s starting to plan a wedding?
There really are no rules, do what you want (as long as you don't put yourself or others in danger!). And don't stress out, because the only thing that REALLY matters in the end is that you and your loved one are making a commitment in front of all of the people that love, adore and support you. So if you forgot your reception shoes at the hotel...go barefoot! Or if your dress got dirty...who cares! Or if you stumble or cry when you say your vows...all the better! There's no point in stressing out about anything on your wedding day, and if you've hired AELO, then you are in good hands and don't need to worry about anything anyway!
What’s your favorite part of a wedding?
Oh gosh. I have a few favorite moments, but here's my very favorite: When the couple walks back down the aisle directly after the ceremony. They look SO joyful (and maybe even relieved?) and I always love that moment. Sometimes there's a high five involved, sometimes there are happy tears, I love it all. I've NEVER EVER seen a couple walk down the aisle after they just got married and not display that joy somehow. It's the best!
THE LIGHTNING ROUND
What’s your coffee order?
Some sort of dark roast with cream or milk. Pretty boring to most, but I gave up putting sugar in my coffee about two years ago and every time I order a coffee and don't put sugar in it, I feel proud of myself! It's the little things, right?
Dogs or cats?
I have an adorable pug named Mr. Pig, or Piggy for short. He's my first love and he's 11 now. He's the CUTEST. I have a sweet and friendly cat named Monkey, I rescued him about 6 months after I got Mr. Pig. They are besties :)
Tell us a joke. The lamer, the “dad”-jokier, the better.
My favorite joke in the world (and also probably the lamest/daddiest joke ever!) This grasshopper walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says surprisingly "OMG We actually have a drink named after YOU!" and the grasshopper flatly replies "You have a drink named Bruce?"
If you had to walk down the aisle tomorrow, what song would you pick?
Paul Weller "Thinking of You"...I was supposed to walk down the aisle to that song but it was one of the very many things that went wrong at my own wedding (screenplay in the works!).
You can only eat one sugar cereal for the rest of your life, what is it?
I'm gonna sound like a total health nut which I am not at all, but I don't eat sugar cereals. I love granola cereals, and they have sugar in them, so I would say any granola cereal.
What’s on your pizza? Bonus, tell us your favorite Chicago pizza place - we won’t judge you, even if it’s Dominos.
I love frozen Reggio's pizza, plain cheese. I think it's even from Chicago but I've never been to the actual restaurant/pizza place. I also LOVE Pompeii pizza. Just cheese is my fave!
Favorite “guilty pleasure” TV show?
Oh gosh there are so many! I used to LOVE "Real World". I could watch it for days. I can pretty much get addicted to ANY reality show. I was crazy about "Jersey Shore" when it was on. "Project Runway" was another fave. Now I try and watch "America's Got Talent" because I am a huge Howard Stern fan. Like, since the late 80's fan. Were any of you even BORN then? Sheesh! ;)
Robot, zombie, wizard, or dinosaur?
Wizard! They can do magic!!
The way to my heart is through __________.
Humor! I love funny people!!
Are there any local vendors or venues you’d love to work with, but haven’t had the chance yet? (We’re big believers in getting back what you put out into the world. Maybe we can do some matchmaking!)