I’m so thrilled to showcase the personality and talent of such a fabulous lady– I’ve long felt like kindred spirits with Chicago-based photographer Cassandra Eldridge and to have the opportunity to showcase her style is a big honor! Between her charming photographic style, her genuine and heartfelt blog posts, and her artistic, yet elegant, lifestyle, she is a thrill to follow and a friend to cherish. She’s already captivated the hearts of brides across the Midwest (and Paris!)– world domination is sure to follow!
What first sparked your interest in photography? When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into making it your career?
Cassandra: My parents were always so encouraging. My mom would always tell me that I had a great eye, and I never really knew what that meant, but it made me want to keep a digital camera on me at all times (my first one was a little red Kodak point and shoot). About 10 years later, while I was living in Colorado, I was in such a strange spot of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that it had to be creative, and it wasn’t working the 9-5 that I currently had. That just wasn’t working for me.
Soon after this push and pull, my father fell ill with Stage 4 cancer, and this put everything in my entire life into perspective. I knew I had to take the leap, if not for me, then for him. He was an entrepenuer himself, and nothing gives me more pride than seeing how proud he is, and having the unwavering support from him and my mother. They made this all possible for me. I can’t say I would have done it without their encouragement. I just wasn’t brave enough.
What’s your favorite part of a wedding day?
Cassandra: That’s such a tough question. The story of a wedding day as a whole is such a magical thing, isn’t it? I would have to say either the first look (if they choose to take this route) or being at the reception; this is my answer for many of reasons.
One: you have peace of mind as the photographer. You know this is the last stop of the night. You didn’t get lost. Everyone you need is in one room. The bride and the groom are together. Solace. Two: so many magical candids happen during this time. The bride and groom are seeing people they haven’t seen in ages, they’re seeling people they love unconditionally, speeches are being made and people are crying. It’s just so lovely and vulnerable. And the first dance / father-daughter dance? Don’t even get me started. I cry 99% of the time.
Nowadays, everyone is a “photographer” (thanks iPhones)– but what does being a professional look like behind-the-scenes? What does a typical work day look like for you?
Cassandra: Oh man. I will say that leaving my 9-5 some days has me scratching my head. “Why did you do that? You had it made! A set schedule, a steady paycheck, how heavenly.”– but the truth is, having your freedom is a beautiful thing, when you know how to balance it. It takes a while, but once you nail down a system that works for you, you quickly realize that you’re one of the lucky ones.
A typical day for me, should I have weddings and portrait sessions to edit would go a little something like this…
I wake up slow (I always need about an hour of quiet time– drinking some tea, eating a big breakfast, catching up on my favorite blogs) then I will work on my blog for the day, hoping to have this done by 11am or so. I’ll spend some time answering emails, and then I will take about a 2 hour break in the afternoon for some “me” time– playing with my puppy, taking an afternoon bath (hello induglence!), do some grocery shopping… then I will return home to do some editing. By 5 or 6, I try to wrap up for the day. If I finish early, I may look at that as a bonus, or I may draft up some blog posts for the week. See? It’s all about balance! It’s a tiring job, and it takes a LOT of tedious time and discipline to ensure you get everything met on time, but it really is so worth it.
You’re very vocal about keeping balanced as a businesswoman and a creative– what are your top five comfort must-haves?
- fresh flowers near my work space
- a hot bath when my shoulders and lower back begin to bother me from sitting in a chair all day
- some good music on the iPod dock
- my heated throw blanket (I am always cold!)
- some good snacks and fun flavored tea (I love working alongside wheat thins, coconut milk yogurt with berries + vanilla caramel tea)
Where do you turn for inspiration? Do you have any specific mentors or role models?
Cassandra: Other bloggers, absolutely. This is such an amazing industry of people willing to share their lives and muses, and I feel grateful to be a small part of it. Some of my favorite bloggers that always give me inspiration are Mikaela Ruth (a lovely Canadian wedding photographer with some of the sweetest passages); YOUR blog– you have such honesty with what you say and I’m always so excited to see what you’ll be talking about each day; a few other blogs– Cupcakes & Cashmere (her simplicity and care free way of life is a reminder that I often need), Bleubird (I adore her mothering ways, and she leaves me feeling so excited for my future)… I literally could go on and on here.
Pinterest is another way to connect with photographers who remind me of what’s important. Shooting beyond the subject and trying to capture that story and bring it to life. Sometimes we get in a creative rut, and it’s so nice to have a one stop shop that can provide us with some spark.
One of my favorite projects of yours is your Love Sparks series with your boyfriend Trent; what have you found to be the secret to a successful, healthy, and passionate relationship? What keeps the love going when life gets real (and hard)?
Cassandra: Thank you! We have so much fun with it. Of course there are days where we’re like “oh shoot… it’s Sunday!” and throw together a last minute photo, but no matter what, we remember the challenge at hand– and we love it.
We don’t have much of a secret really– we just both genuinly enjoy each other. We’re rarely serious, and I think that’s so important. Life itself can already be so intense, you know? Some of my favorite moments with him are when we’re doubled over from laughing so hard. Sometimes for so long that we forget what the culprit was! He’s just so fun… and I never doubt his love for me. He makes it apparent every single day through the smallest actions… but bringing home flowers and cute gifts never hurts either. He’s good at that too.
What is your dream creative project?
Cassandra: I would absolutely die if I ever got to shoot for Kinfolk or Hearth Magazine. I don’t even know what else to say. That’s it, that’s my dream project. 100%.
You’re based in Chicago, one major city I don’t know much about– what are a few not-to-be-missed places you’d recommend to a friend visiting?
Cassandra: Well first I recommend that you come either in the spring or summer– dodge the winter! What they say are not myths. It can be quite bruital. Summer in Chicago is my favorite, and I highly recommend heading over to either Oak Street Beach or North Ave Beach to take in the sun, hit the little tiki bar for some mid-day cocktails and some snacks, play some beach volleyball.
For dinner, RPM is my all time new favorite Chicago spot.The food is absolutely outstanding. Lou Malnati’s beats Giordannos for me for Chicago Style Pizza, too.
Parooze around Water Tower Mall (it’s lovely), check out Top Shop (we’re one of only four locations!), head on over to the Hershey Chocolate store/museum, and go a little bit further south to see the Planetarium (I’m obsessed with planetariums) and/or the Shedd.
If you’re a sports fan, I highly recommend heading over to histroic Wrigleyville to watch the Cubbies. Head over to Bacci’s pizza for the biggest slice of pizza and a soda for only $4 (it’s so good!) or walk over to Cubbie Bear for live music and fun Chicago baseball fans. Oh, and you can NEVER go wrong by getting tickets to the Mad House to see the Bulls or Blackhawks play– those, are some of my all time favorite Chicago memories.
My perfect day is _____.
Cassandra: Waking up early, reading all of my favorite blogs before 10am, going out to breakfast, walking around in a maxi dress (which means the weather is lovley!) to do a little shopping, grabbing some lunch at an outdoor cafe, heading over to the beach to catch some vitamin D, coming home to cook a nice intimiate dinner, watch one of my favorite movies that I just can’t seem to get sick of, and end it all with a hot lavender bubble bath. Perfect day!
What’s next for you? What’s next for Cassandra Photo?
Cassandra: Ah, who knows!? That’s where the fun lies, right? The not knowing. I suppose I will continue to be obsessed with all of my clients and throw my heart and soul into capturing all of the magic that’s around me… and sharing it with all of you through my blog… and of course reaching for that aforementioned Dream Project. xx
Follow along with all of Cassandra’s adventures on her blog | on twitter! | on instagram | on pinterest | on Facebook | all images courtesy of or by Cassandra!