Chicago Engagement at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

My favorite thing is when couples want to have their love captured genuinely, authentically, and candidly. Those three words just speak to me as a Chicago wedding photographer, ya know? When Ilse and Khoa first reached out to capture their engagement session, I was immediately drawn to their beautiful and sweet love story. Their playful and candid nature and the love and passion that they shared with each other.

Their Chicago Engagement at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo was one of my favorites of 2022. Ilse and Khoa came to me looking for a true documentary engagement session with a storytelling feel and I’m beyond excited to share it with you!

The Love Story of Ilse and Khoa

Ilse and Khoa met during their freshman year of high school, in Latin class. By coincidence (or by fate as I like to think about it) they were seated next to each other. Over their years in high school, their friendship continued to blossom. However, it wasn’t until the end of their senior year that they began dating. Since then, their relationship has continued to flourish into the beautiful connection they have today.

Today, they enjoy live music and trying out new restaurants. Don’t get it twisted though, they are also big fans of staying in and cooking together. Indeed, they love living the best of both worlds.

The Proposal

While it wasn’t totally obvious that Ilse was being proposed to, she did have a hunch. Haircuts and nails were done… juuuuust in case. Ilse thought the dinner was celebrating their birthdays… oh how she was wrong. After a romantic dinner, they missed their original plans of seeing the fireworks at the Navy Pier. Overlooking the Chicago skyline in a quiet spot just the two of them, Khoa proposed. She was crying (a lot) but it was the most joyful moment of (both) their lives.

Chicago Engagement at the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

For Ilse and Khoa’s Chicago engagement, it was important that they feel comfortable. They wanted their engagement session to be fun, playful, and yet still beautiful and so very them. They are big fans of greenery and plan on incorporating this across their wedding theme as well. So nature, greenery, and a lot of beautiful scenery were key for their Chicago engagement session. Luckily after hearing this, I had a few spots in mind. You can check out some of Chicago’s top photo session locations in this blog!

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

After a bit of decision-making, we decided that the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo was the perfect location for their Chicago engagement photos. The Nature Boardwalk is one of those beautiful Chicago locations that never gets old. What once was a simple manmade pond has now turned into a lush, prairie-style garden. You’re surrounded by a plethora of flora and plants, animals, and an atmosphere that will take your breath away.

We started with Ilse and Khoa embracing the beautiful Fall foliage surrounding us. Burnt oranges, yellows, and greens represented those gorgeous jewel tones that they absolutely loved. We had Ilse and Khoa overlook the beautiful water views while keeping things playful, casual, and light.

To get them to interact outside of my photographic influence, I asked them to forget about the camera for a little while. I gave them prompts like, “Reminisce on your first date – what were you feeling? What’s your favorite memory over the course of your relationship?

These prompts got Ilse and Khoa interacting candidly, and comfortably with one another. It gave them time to connect without feeling like I wanted them to act a certain way for the camera.

I love stepping back during sessions to let couples simply exist and let their natural gestures and interactions lead our time together. That way every photo that’s captured is genuine and authentic to who they are as a couple.

To end our session we wandered over to the Education Pavilion, which is a feature piece at the Nature Boardwalk before wandering around a bit more as the sun began to set. The day was absolute perfection and I’m so grateful to have experienced such passionate and sweet love between these two wonderful humans.

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