Wow... Where do I even begin? I am nearly speechless. And, if you know me well, that is a hard thing to come by!
This styled shoot was a dream. A true dream come true.
It all started when my photographer friend, Karen Shoufler, told me about Tuesdays Together and The Rising Tide Society when I moved to Bourbonnais. Upon learning about The Rising Tide Society, I was amazed at their mission and their focus on community. I was all-in and ready to learn, grow, and build relationships with other like-minded people in the community.
Tuesdays Together meetings (held on the second Tuesday of the month in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area) via The Rising Tide Society focus on community over competition and building relationships, while building each other up in the creative industry. I love the outlook that this organization takes and how it simply brings people together. Days as a small business owner and creative can be lonely, challenging, and demanding, but connecting with other people in your shoes is fulfilling and a true shift in perspective. A perspective shift to the positive things like helping and supporting one another and making the creative small business industry a little less lonely at times!
Shortly after joining Karen, I met Sarah Jane Hemenover. A fellow photographer in Bourbonnais, Illinois. We were in a photography group on Facebook and attending the same conference when we realized that we were both photographers and both living in Bourbonnais! Looking back, I am so thankful that we meet via Facebook, and I love having another local photog friend to connect with and grow in our journeys together. As soon as I met Sarah, I knew she would be passionate about The Rising Tide Society's mission, so I told her about Tuesdays Together.
Soon after joining Karen's new local group (at this point a group of three photographers), we had big dreams of a styled shoot brewing in our minds as we met at Grapes and Hops in Kankakee, Illinois. You might be wondering... What in the world is a styled shoot? Well, a styled shoot is a curated wedding by creatives and wedding vendors. Gathering vendors and collaborating on all the little details from the theme, models, dress, florals, planning, and everything in between. Sounds like a lot of work, right? Oh it is, but it is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
Our initial vision for the shoot was a rustic floral boho theme. We love rustic touches and textures along with beautiful, bold florals and a touch of glam and gold. Goodness, these details were impeccable when they came together! Once we narrowed down a solid vision, we started reaching out to vendors. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing all of our vendors were... Each and every vendor we had the opportunity to work with aligned with our vision and our ideas for the shoot. Everything came together seamlessly throughout our collaboration.
On the day of our styled shoot, it was a breathtakingly beautiful day, but SO warm outside. Of course, that's what happens when you plan something in July in the middle of the summer heat. But, besides the heat, the day was flawless. Model prep went smoothly and was so fun for the girls at Savvy Hair Gallery & Spa, and the site setup was successful thanks to all of the vendors offering their helping hands. Those florals were so dreamy by Busse and Rieck, the handcrafted jewelry by Pommier-Benoit Handcrafted was the perfect accessory for the models, and the yummy cupcakes and treats on the sweets table were calling our names as soon as Jorie delivered them, too! And Laura Hines, our handcrafted sign vendor, surprised us all with her event styling skills - we are SO thankful for her amazing eye and creativity to make our vision come to life. Laura truly made our setup look like something from Pinterest!
Once we started shooting details (check out the lovely paper goods from Beacon Lane and the beautiful rings from D. Westphal Jewelers), Karen, Sarah, and I were in awe with everything coming to life. Like I said, a DREAM.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire day from the details and collaboration to shooting the event - I'm sure Karen and Sarah would agree, too! Looking back, when the three of us first decided to organize and start planning the styled shoot, I think our first goal was to plant seeds. We simply wanted to connect with local vendors and collaborate. We truly were focusing on community over competition. But you know what? It became so much more! The entire experience - the planning, organizing, and everything in between - was amazingly fulfilling and exciting. I believe that it has given us a new drive and spark to connect and build relationships and grow more with those around us.
When it comes down to it, yes, I am swooning over the images I took on this day. But can I let you in on a little secret? The most incredible and powerful part of it all is the relationships I have built with the other photographers, vendors, and the community through it all. There is nothing truly like it, and I am ever so thankful.
At the end of it all, I am and will be forever grateful for this community, these people, and these amazing creatives that collaborated alongside myself and others. I truly believe that our dreams for big things in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area will come true. So, if you're a small business owner or creative entrepreneur, we would LOVE to see you at our next meeting! Feel free to reach out to myself, Karen, or Sarah with any questions.
I hope you love experiencing our styled shoot through photos as much as we loved the entire experience from start to finish!
Hair & Makeup: Savvy Hair Gallery & Spa - Peotone, IL | Cake: Cakes and Pasteries by Jorie - Manteno, IL | Bride & Bridesmaid Attire: Bliss Bridal and Prom - Bourbonnais, IL | Venue: Willowhaven Nature Center - Kankakee, IL | Paper Goods: Beacon Lane - Frankfort, IL | Handcrafted Signs: Laura Hines Designs - Bourbonnais, IL | Rings: D.Westphal Jewelers Inc. - Bradley, IL | Florist: Busse and Rieck Flowers, Plants, & Gifts - Kankakee, IL | Jewelry: Pommier-Benoit Handcrafted Jewelry - Bourbonnais, IL | Farmhouse Table: SavvyCityFarmer - East Dundee, IL | Models: Megan Pierson, Kevin Pierson, Annie Kyrouac, Sydney Benoit, & Kaitlyn LaCost | Photography: Sarah Jane Photography - Bourbonnais, IL + Karen Shoufler Photography - Watseka, IL + By Kara - Bourbonnais, IL