Agustina and Johann’s wedding in Argentina

A little more than a year ago I met with Agustina for the first time in a small coffee shop in Lincoln Square.  She friended me on facebook earlier when she say pictures from one of my trips.  She mentioned she was going to be married in a Argentina the following year and was interested in having me photograph the union.  Since then we’ve become great friends, so this trip to South America was extra special for me.  Not only was I taking pictures and exploring Argentina and Bolivia (those photos to come in a few blog posts), but I was sharing the experience with two great people!

Argentina was stunning, full of joyful laughter, and inviting. Agustina’s family was incredibly warm and sweet. It was amazing to meet them in person after hearing so many stories!

Check back soon for Johann and Agustina’s day after session in Uyuni, Bolivia.

I thought I’d share a few images of the remarkable vistas just a short drive outside of Agustina’s hometown, Salta.

Salta is famous for traditional gauchos, cowboy’s who herd the native horses.

The Wedding Day:

On the way to the venue where Agustina was to get ready, a person driving beside pointed out a low tire on the vehicle. “Do you think I should pull over?” Agust asked. “I think we better.  You don’t want the tire to blow out along the way.”

We pulled off at a small auto shop, where the mechanic said she’d need to change the tire. “Well ok then, but can you just try to do it fast because I’m getting married today, ” Agust said with a smile.  Throughout the whole trip she referenced the Saltena lifestyle–a casual approach to things, especially schedules. For such a thing to happen in America might send the day in a tail spin, but Agustina just shrugged and carried on. 

Agustina finalized the table arrangements for the reception while having her hair done.

Agustina’s grandma, Mamama, goes over last details for the day.  She is an amazing woman, a classic matriarch with a big heart and impeccable taste.

Agustina had her one of a kind dress made in Salta, inspired by a dress worn Christina Applegate wore to the Oscars. 

The church was overflowing with guests excited to see the couple married.

In Argentina, it’s tradition to follow the religious ceremony with a civil ceremony, which took place at the reception site.

When Agustina first came to America, she lived with The Borelli’s as their family au pair. Seven years later, they are all very close. Lisa and Mark Borelli flew in from Chicago for the occasion, to the delight of her family and friends.

Johann’s sister’s, Annie and Carina toasted the happy couple on behalf of their parents, who weren’t able to travel from Chicago, and their distant extended in the Philippines. Carina wasn’t able to hold back her tears, so Mamama, gave her a few hearty slaps to snap her out of the crying.

Engagement Shoot with Nick and Molly-Out of the city and into the country.

The morning of Nick and Molly’s engagement shoot, the sky was overcast and threatening.  I worried the rain would fall exactly when we began shooting. Glancing up at the dark gray, sad sky, I said, “Why today of all days?” Then I checked myself, backtracked and pronounced, “It’s going to turn out amazing. The light’s going to be beautiful.”

Thirty minutes before the shoot, it started to sprinkle.  It seemed my declaration faded without a response. It was a light drizzle though, so we didn’t cancel the shoot. By the time I met up with Nick and Molly, the rain was finished, and the sky was beautiful.

The rest of the shoot turned out great. We snapped a few pictures in the city before heading out to the “country,” aka Barrington Hills aka the most picturesque suburb I’ve visited to date.

Molly and Nick are a case of a successful blind date. “I asked Molly to marry me the first time three months into it.” Granted there wasn’t a ring at that point, but it was promise of what was to come for them.  They just “knew.”

Nick and Molly-Engagement couple laugh together during a shoot Nick and Molly-Engagement couple smile together during a shoot at Montrose Harbor beneath Nick and Molly-Engagement couple laugh together during a shoot Nick and Molly-Engagement couple laugh together during a shoot

Nick and Molly-Engaged couple kiss during their engagement photo session in Barrington Hills, Illinois during their engagement shoot. Nick and Molly-Engaged couple walk together in Barrington Hills, Illinois during their engagement shoot. Nick and Molly-Engaged couple walk together in Barrington Hills, Illinois during their engagement shoot.

Nick and Molly-Engaged couple embrace together in Barrington Hills, Illinois during their engagement shoot. Nick and Molly-Engaged couple walk together in Barrington Hills, Illinois during their engagement shoot.

Art Walk in Pilsen Neighborhood

A few weeks ago my aunt Susie called me to arrange a bi-monthly meetup.  Usually we surf over to yelp or metromix and search for a  tasty ethnic b.y.o.b like Chilam Balam (one of my favs. Isn’t it fun to say?) or Opart Thai House on Western (closest I’ve found to the real thing). The Pilsen Art walk happened to fall during this particular week so we decided to head south to check out the local art scene and enjoy the local Mexican fare at DeCOLORES galeria y sabores.

My friend Serina joined us for the evening.  Around six we she and I headed toward Susie’s direction, stopping for a quick minute to snap a photograph of the bike below. We each admitted to checking out the beaut on earlier walks past.  I’m a sucker for the retro style and color! I can’t wait to get my own!

After a short pit stop at Susie’s beautiful Ukranian Village apartment to meet Paris, her new darling kitten, we hopped in her Volkswagen GTI (my grandpa introduced her to the German company with her first starter car, the beetle) and drove south on Halsted.

Our first stop was an interactive exhibit where visitors were encouraged to try out the “art.” These guys produced enough energy from peddling to power the lights attached to their helmets and illuminate the room. They were pretty stoked, if you can’t tell 🙂

View from Brian Mancl’s gallery.  This was my favorite collection of work.  His photographs were simple, abstract,  and beautifully executed.

Another view from one of the galleries. It’s a very traditional city scene to me. This could be nearly any city in the World.

On the walk back North to Decolores, Susie said there was something she had to show Serina and me.  Each corner she’d have us wait for a minute while she jogged halfway down the block to see if it held the secret treasure.  This alley is not what she wanted us to see, but I thought I’d take a picture of it any way.  On the third or fourth block Susie found it–a flourishing communal garden, kept by the local artist surrounding the plot.  At this point,  it was too dark for a photo that would do it justice, but I’ll certainly be back soon and take one then.

Pieces of Panama, part 2.

On a Saturday morning a few months ago, I woke to find a missed alert on my phone from a friend and fellow photographer Laurie.

I dialed my voice mail expecting to hear a message continuing some portion of the conversation we’d had at dinner the night before.  To my surprise, the call was regarding something altogether different.

“Hey Maggie, it’s Laurie.  I talked to Johnny tonight and he said you could come to Panama with us.  We’re thinking about going in the next month or so and we’d really like you to join us!”

I thought about it for about 30 seconds before calling her back to tell her  I was on board.

Johnny, Laurie’s husband, was the point person for our travels. We laid down a few specified a few spots of interest (the canal,  countryside, and Caribbean) and he did the rest. A week before our departure he even showed me the excel spreadsheet coordinating our days’ activities in clear color-coated blocks of time. His enthusiasm for Panama was contagious, especially with the constant promise of hammock time on the beach.

I could only spare 5 days for the trip with my schedule, but I feel like I got a real taste of the country.  The people were warm and laughed easy.  Johnny’s family was wonderful.  His mom made a number of tasty meals for us, delighting my palette with tamales, a sweet yogurt drink, fresh fruit, and other treats I snarfed down.  To our delight, Marco, Johnny’s cousin spent three days with us. Marco knows a lot about Panama and was really patient with my constant queries about “that over there,” or “the history of this spot.”

The photos below chronicle a lot of our adventures, from our morning hike at the Smithsonian owned island, Barro Colorado, to our day at the Caribbean.

With Laurie, Johnny, and his family as my guide, I was able to see SO much of Panama… I had such a great time, and am already looking forward to the next visit.

Passenger’s reflection on the boat ride to Barro Colorado Island.      

The canal

A shared laugh.

The Jungle

Bus Station.


Our boat driver to the island.

El Cristo Negro

The little Chinese owned Panamanian spot. Delicious.

The marriage of Jamie + Phil

I’m blown away when I pause and consider the privilege I’m given each wedding I document.  I fell in love with photojournalism while flipping through pages of National Geographic. Amongst articles featuring Inuits in Canada, or barracudas in the deep blue, famous photographers like Steve McCurry and Joel Satore presented pieces from across the World documenting special rights ceremonies. No matter what you call them, how they’re officiated, or what hemisphere they’re held, marriages are universal ceremonies between two people–a pinnacle point in their lifelong story, which I’m grateful to witness and document.

Phil and Jamie were quiet when I first met them. They were reserved, composed, and polite.  During their wedding they were moving.

Emotion filled the air; tissues touched corner’s of eyes and sniffles were muffled behind cupped hands.  From the people in the back row to the photographer crouching in the corner (me), I wager not a single person was left unmoved.

Thanks to Steve Koo for bringing me along as a second, and to Jame and Phil.What a beautiful ceremony.  Did I mention we had a blast at the reception?