The phrase I hear the most: "We never take photos and are the most awkward people in front of the camera. We're nervous about the process!"
This is where my I REALLY get to flex my photography skills. Technical stuff aside, taking photos of people is all about connection + comfort. I love working with couples specifically because I know the recipes to creating fun, natural-looking photos to reflect people who are in love.
Want to know the secret sauce? It's getting goofy. Whispering your favorite food into your partner's ear, little hip bumps as you walk, and making the strangest noises possible. Another benefit from years of doing theater means that I'm well-versed in exercises that can help you laugh and get more comfortable in front of the camera. By the end of the time we spend taking portraits, I promise that you'll feel way more at ease when getting your photo taken than you ever thought possible.
Most couples are getting married for the first time, which means the process of planning a wedding can feel challenging. Photographing 100+ weddings in my career means that I have the knowledge and expertise to be able to help in most situations. Although I am not a planner, I always offer my couples thoughtful advice on how to organize their day, share info about how long things may take, and offer my list of recommended vendors.
I will always be the vendor that promptly responds to emails, shows up on time for meetings/sessions, and makes you feel taken care of. I make it my goal to ensure that you always feel like I'm on top of everything on my end. Being on the same page about the process, your wedding day, and everything else ensures that your plans go as smoothly as possible.
Sometimes specific details or plans shift for a number of different reasons. No matter what, I want you both to be able to reach out so that I can know how to best support you. Whether it's sensitive family matters or even specific elements moving around in a way that wasn't anticipated, I'll always chat through what's going on so you can feel confident about whatever is happening.
My style of wedding photography reflects how I see the day as it's laid out in front of me. As an observer and not a participant, I'm able to capture things that aren't always immediately noticed. I love looking around a room and finding small pockets of beauty or catching a secret glance between partners. Aside from the vital moments, storytelling comes from those B-side photos that help shape your gallery into a true representation of the day.
Fun fact about me: I'm a weirdo who LOVES to edit. It's a process that brings me so much closer to what lies at the heart of what I do best, which is to create fine-art photography. I'm always eager to start on the edits from the moment I get home and this excitement continues until I export the final images. For smaller sessions, the edits take about 2 - 3 weeks and larger weddings take 4 - 6 weeks. If there is any reason that I would not meet this deadline (because of an emergency or other obligations), then I will 100% communicate that to you and make sure you're filled in on everything that's going on.
LET ME TELL YOU that when someone tries to take MY photo I often freeze up. My hands? My face? My body? Suddenly I don't know what to do with any of them! Whenever I'm working with couples I always aim to capture them in a natural, organic way. Every relationship is different physically + emotionally. I work to find what makes you guys feel the most like yourselves. There are small tricks I have up my sleeve to aid this process, but no two couples are the same. It's so much easier to think about your partner and the ways you love them rather than where to put your arms or how to position your legs. We will work together to tell your story in these photos.
Unfortunately, I can't clone myself to be in two rooms at the same time (wouldn't that be cool?). This is where the role of the Second Shooter can really come in handy! I almost always recommend a Second Shooter for large events in order to make sure every last detail is captured and from every angle. If you and your partner are getting ready in separate locations, having another photographer there allows each of you to be documented before the ceremony. If I'm photographing someone giving a speech, my other photographer can take photos of your reactions. These are only a couple of the many ways a Second Shooter can be utilized.
This is definitely the question I get asked the most! One of the best ways to figure this out is to hop on a phone or Zoom call to discuss your big day. We'll go over how long everything will take, including getting ready, travel time, and even when speeches should be planned. My goal isn't to get you to book my largest package or sell you hours you don't need– it's to find the right timeline that works best for you. We'll finalize everything before your wedding so that when when the day comes, we'll have a solid schedule in place and y'all don't have to worry about a thing!
Oh heck yes! All wedding packages come with a specific amount prints along with the ability to add on an album. The gallery you receive online also serves as a print store, making ordering any additional prints super easy.
(Updated Feb 2024) If you're looking to get married in person at City Hall, there's no appointment needed Tuesday through Fridays, 9am - 12pm and 2pm - 4pm (the latest we can arrive is 3:30pm). Saturdays are by appointment only. Those are made 6-8 weeks ahead of time by calling (312) 603-5660. From what I've heard, the times they give you are random and you aren't given much choice on the time of day.
For non-appointment days, we'll check in on the lower level of 119 W Randolph St in the Loop and hand the receptionist your marriage license and $10. Without either of these, the judge cannot perform your ceremony that day. After that, we'll wait until your names are called. Depending on how many folks have hopped in line before you, it can take up to 30-45 minutes (this is more likely on Fridays). If your names are called and we're not there, you'll forfeit your place in line. Once you're called, we'll go into one of the small rooms and get you married! You can have up to 10 people with you, but please note that the rooms are VERY small (you can see photo examples of the space here). The ceremony takes only 3 minutes!
For a scheduled appointment, everything above is the same with the exception of wait time. Because they schedule multiple couples for the same time slot on Saturdays, there will still be a small window of time where we'll wait for your names to be called.
Because wait times vary, I deduct those minutes from your photo coverage to ensure we have plenty of time for photos!
Absolutely. Any couple who wants to book me for their wedding with coverage of 9+ hours will receive a complementary engagement session! I love doing this because it encourages us to get to know each other and form a trust that will only make the images that much more magical.
At this time I am not offering mini sessions. I want to make sure that my couples are able to receive the full experience when it comes to a session with me. Spending the full time together allows us to get to know each other better while we run around and take gorgeous photos.
Every single photo you receive from me will have been color corrected and edited by my own hands. My edits are what make my craft so unique, and it's for this reason that I don't send off my work to be edited by someone else or give out RAW, unedited photos.
My wedding packages usually yield 75-100 images per shooting hour depending on what's happening and how many people are being photographed. I take fewer photos while people are eating (trust me, the average person does not look cute while taking a big bite of chicken) and more during the important moments. An engagement session will often result in 100-150 images.
I promise we can always find beauty in whatever Mother Nature throws at us and we will make it work. Sometimes a little extra rain, snow, or wind can add some incredible, unexpected texture that makes the photos even more beautiful. If an engagement or family session date needs to be rearranged because of dangerous conditions, I'm more than happy to take that on a case-by-case basis.
I do not think that a person's body should be edited to look a certain way. I take pride in being a body-positive photographer that looks at the organic love happening between people. We all have skin, fat, folds, and other beautiful curves. I embrace it all. The only retouching I do is for acne, scarring, blemishes, or bruising. I never look at someone I've photographed and seek out to erase their "imperfections." I only see love, which is honestly what you'll remember most about the day when you look back on these images. The best photos won't be about how your body looks. It'll be about the connection you share with the ones you cherish the most.
I always ask for a deposit of 20% with the contract. This payment ensures my time and that I don't accept another booking for that day. Because that date is being held just for you, it is non-refundable and acts as a retainer. The remainder of the balance is due 2 weeks before the wedding/session, but I am happy to set up a plan that spreads out for smaller payments over time before the big day.
If you are rescheduling a wedding, the paid deposit will go toward your new date and I will not add any additional fees. A new contract will be written for the new date agreed upon by both you and me. If a wedding is rescheduled for a second time, I require a 15% non-refundable payment for the new date. If a wedding needs to be moved to a new date due to government shutdowns or mandates preventing any kind of gathering from happening, I will not charge any additional fees for rescheduling.
Please feel free to reach out to me at any time during your planning process! However, only folks with booked venues can sign a contract + pay a deposit with me (with the exception of City Hall weddings) to make everything official. Not only does this ensure that your date lines up with my schedule, but it also gives us a great starting place when we discuss your wedding day timeline to figure out how much coverage you'll need. If you're looking at a number of dates, please let me know so I can share my availability with you!
Of course! I will meet you wherever you are– I'm definitely not limited to the Midwest. All additional travel expenses will be discussed and added to the final contract, so you won't need to worry about flights/gas/hotels.
Being a concert photographer in addition to photographing weddings means I've practiced being able to capture important moments in less than ideal lighting situations. My trained eye combined with knowing how to best utilize my lighting equipment allows me to provide amazing photos, no matter where your wedding is taking place or what time of day it occurs.
At the moment I only offer photography. However, my recommended vendor list contains a number of videographers that I love to work with. Once you book with me, I'd be more than happy to share my list with you!
Honestly, I'd be mad if you didn't. If you have any furry friends at home, I want to know every nickname you call them, how floofy they are and why you can't live without them.
"We were worried about feeling awkward in front of the camera due to our lack of experience, but Madi is absolutely amazing at capturing breathtaking candid moments while also helping to pose you in a natural feeling way. We lost our reception venue 28 days before our wedding and Madi was able to use professional connections to help us secure a new and even better location. There is no amount of words I could use to over exaggerate Madi's professionalism, talent and dedication to her craft and to her clients. Out of all my vendors, working with Madi felt like we were working with a close friend who is fiercely loyal, supportive, and has the most magnetic energy that just draws you in. She goes above and beyond in everything she does and was the hero of our wedding."
Jessica + Nick
"Madi was awesome! The photos she took are so amazing and perfectly capture us! We were really impressed with her attitude - she was able to perfectly command our crowd for group photos, and was an expert at navigating busy spots where we wanted to take photos (the river front, Michigan Ave). We were so impressed at how she was able to commandeer a spot for us on the river front and make it look like not a soul was around in the photos. We also really appreciated her enthusiasm. We both were concerned we’d feel really awkward during our photos, but Madi was an awesome hype-person and made us feel natural and at ease. She also did a great job at navigating our changing timeline on the day of. We are so impressed and highly recommend her!!!"
Gianna + Tyler
"Madi is amazing!!! Her photos are absolutely incredible and she managed to capture every single moment of our special day perfectly! Madi works hard to make the day enjoyable and effortless. She talked us through our timeline (as offered in one of her packages) literally by the half hour and ensured that we all were on the same page. She was able to direct our very large wedding party with ease throughout our group photos, and even managed to get my very shy flower girl to stick her tongue out at the camera!! Madi is professional, accountable, fun, and brings the best energy to your day."
Sophia + Eric
Will + Jeff
"When we told our venue vendor that we were working with Madi Ellis, her response was, 'the queen.' She was 100% right. I can't say enough good things about Madi. She was super engaged and responsive from the jump, and she went above and beyond to help us integrate our photo plans with our wedding day schedule, making sure we didn't miss out on opportunities to capture the night. On our wedding day, Madi was prompt, prepared, and ready with a contingency plan when downtown traffic threatened to throw off our shoot schedule. Throughout the night she helped our coordinator keep things rolling smoothly and was ready to take advantage of candid moments and set up group shots on the fly. And the PHOTOS! The photos are all stunning and captured us so well. Book Madi - you won't regret it."
"The experience I had with Madi was spectacular. She was rock solid, exceptionally ON it for months leading up to the event at planning meetings. She even called us an Uber to leave our own wedding after our original plans bailed on us when we were one minute late!! Seriously the most solid photographer you could ask for. Thank you, Madi, thank you!! The photos themselves made us cry, laugh, giggle, and overall have so much love! My family has bought prints already and I’m planning to purchase a ton more. They’re stunning! Truly captured the magic we felt that day."
Kate + Daniel
"The most important piece of our wedding was making sure we found the perfect photographer to capture our day, and Madi was it! When you have multiple wedding guests and family members saying multiple times during--and after--the wedding that 'your wedding photographer is so good. Can she take all my photos?!' you know you lucked out. Madi knows how to put everyone at ease in front of a camera; she corrals wayward folks; she makes everyone feel like a star; and she is an extra set of hands/eyes/ears to rely on to get through the most insane whirlwind of a day. Oh, and she also creates insanely drop-dead gorgeous photos."
Taraneh + James
"From the first call we had with Madi, we knew we were in good hands. She was the glue that held the whole day together, even going as far as providing bandaids to my bridesmaids and giving me her sunglasses when the sun was too bright! All of that is not even related to her photography - which was INCREDIBLE. We could go on and on about how grateful we are to have worked with Madi. The comment we received the most about our wedding was how amazing our photographer was, and we could not agree more. Not only is she an amazing wedding photographer, but she is also just a great person. We could not recommend Madi enough!!"
Monica + Pete
"Hire Madi as your wedding photographer right now. She is an incredibly talented artist and we are absolutely in love with her photographs. And maybe just as importantly, she is such a warm and kind person who immediately put everyone in the wedding at ease. Are you worried about being photographed for hours and made the center of attention? Hire Madi; she will make what could be an awkward encounter feel second nature. Are you worried that your venue has weird lighting? Hire Madi; from getting ready to the ceremony to the dance floor, every photo perfectly captures the emotion of the day. Are you stressed about logistics? Hire Madi; she was super-human levels of communicative leading up to the wedding and helped us plan and navigate various logistics without even batting an eye. Planning a wedding involves a lot of difficult decisions, but this one is easy."
Laura + Nathan
"Madi is quite literally one of the most talented, capable, and fun event photographers in the game. I believe her services are something else compared to other photographers, especially in the wedding industry. She works closely with you and your partner to tailor your experience based on your needs and preferences, and her institutional knowledge and experience of the wedding industry, best practices, and event flow. Her work is bar none. She has a warm personality that managed to calm my nerves and instill confidence. She even shows up on the day of the wedding with an "emergency kit" for anything that could go wrong! She's a star and thinks of it all - an excellent vendor to have in your corner. If you're on the fence, here's your sign to book Madi ASAP."
Rebecca + John
"I'm telling you right now - you need to hire Madi! She was so easy to work with - from planning everything, to her communication, to how comfortable she made us feel in front of the camera. She is so knowledgeable about all things wedding and was so helpful to us in more ways than just photography. BUT THEN THE PHOTOGRAPHY!! Her photos were absolutely stunning. She captured our goofiness in such a beautiful way, caught all of the little moments between us and guests, nailed all of the little detail shots. She was so amazing to work with and we loved our experience with her."
Becca + Trevor