Josh & Katie | Adventure Session | Chicago Wedding Engagement Photograper

This session is also published by the award-winning wedding blog Junebug Weddings

I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing out loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.
— Shauna Niequist

I don't know if Shauna had anyone particular in mind when she penned the above paragraph, but when I read it, I think about Josh and Katie. If ever there were two people with more wonder, more adventure in their hearts and more outward-sharing love than Josh and Katie, I want to know, because in my life's history book, they take all the leads.


It was through Instagram that I first met Katie, and then shortly thereafter, Josh. Before I even head their voices or saw their faces in person, it was apparent that both Josh and Katie have hearts steeped in wonder. They don't need to experience exotic location to see beauty, for they are intentionally looking for it everyday. Once Katie wrote in a post, "How does God take your breath away? For me He does the tiny rodent I see safely crossing the road in front of my fast moving car, in the first sip of a fresh cup of coffee. He takes my breath away in the words my brilliant friends speak, in the giggles of my nephew, and by the fingers of Joshua fitting so perfectly in-between mine as we hold hands. If you look for Him, God is truly everywhere."

It's so perfectly, brilliantly true. Between written words, photographs, drawings, pottery and even wood-carvings, their hearts share a creative spark. And when they create, that spark ignites, and the blasts infects all around them. It's a contagious, fast-moving wildfire. It's a sky-scraping wonder to stop and feel the moment and grasp the beauty in even the seemingly mundane. Like an intricately woven tapestry, with a quadrillion threads, all of life, looking through their eyes is a breath-taking masterpiece.

Not only are they artists, but they are adventurers. They don't allow fear to stop them from fully living; but truly, bravery is found in unexpected places. It takes a whole lot of courage to endure long periods of separation from the person you love most. Their atmospheric-shuddering love, paired with their expectant outlook of the future is what fuels their courage to endure, to continue working hard and to keep pursuing what it is they know they are suppose to do. With Katie still attending school in Minnesota, and now Josh at school in Chicago, they hardly ever get to see and hold each other.

So in the rare occasions when they do get to be together, it's beautiful; and I believe that you'll see that beauty in their photos below. However, before you look at the pictures, I had a chance to talk to both Josh and Katie individually about their thoughts for each other.

Katie is story-oriented, and it's in the memories of stories that she believes her feelings are manifested: "There’s the story of how we met – how God answered the most important prayer of my entire life – the one I unknowingly prayed over and over again all throughout my junior year of high school – the one that God answered through putting Joshua in my life in the beginning of my senior year. Joshua showed me God’s love in a way that radically changed my life. There’s the story about how he played Beethoven in his old truck the first time we rode to volunteer after school together. I was so nervous to spend time alone with a boy, but not one moment of our time together felt uncomfortable. The one where we talked about the idea of dating in high school, and concluded to wait for two more years – this one is long and confusing but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We’ve had disagreements and confrontations, and not one of them has been approached with yelling or bashing – only respect, grace, patience, and understanding. And even past understanding – working to love one another even better. There’s stories about jumping off bridges and climbing them too – both risky and feeling like trust. Trust is also deeply rooted in the stories about us being miles apart more often than we are together. They involve stargazing, trespassing, and coffee learning and tasting. Some involve dancing (slow and fast) and some involve questioning. Is this right? Is this what God wants? What we want? So many stories have involved loss and love, fights and reunions, goodbyes and hellos, sin and forgiveness, growing and maturing, yet staying young and staying reckless. In all the stories we’ve created together so far, there’s been a larger one unfolding - one with greater, unthinkable Love and overflowing Grace. This is the larger story I could have never imagined I’d be living, and although it’s crazy hard at times, it has been the most fulfilling and exciting part of my life. Joshua feels like home and living life with him is like getting a glimpse into the feeling of what our future home with Jesus will be. I’m impatiently waiting to marry Joshua – there’s nothing I want more."

Later when I talked with Josh, it was amazing to me to see how so many of their feelings are rooted in the same and similar experiences. Josh says that thing that initially attracted him to her was her free spirit, "our first 'date' was going to hang out with kids at an after school program in the inner city. I asked her last minute and she just agreed! She didn't know me and she didn't know anything about the program, but she just went!"  He loves her spontaneity and love of adventure. He admires her intelligence, and diligence in studying hard, but he especially adores how humble she is about it. But its her heart, he says, "I've fallen in love with...She's so compassionate and truly cares about those who society picks on. She has a really unique perspectives on things and is unafraid to challenge me in my beliefs. She's a fiercely loyal friend. When someone she knows is going through a rough time, she is there 100% rooting for them/praying for them/doing whatever they need." Of course at the end of the conversation he added, "...And obviously, she's just gorgeous."

If you're interested in their proposal story, watch this magnificently created video by Laura Nickel:

This is the story of Josh and Katie, whose love and joy are absolutely contagious. Song is "Our Adventure" by The Long Valley, courtesy of Marmoset Music.

My husband, (who is also named Joshua), and I are so incredibly honored that Josh and Katie asked us to capture their special day, these are the clients we dream about--the ones that become lifelong friends.

For their engagement session, we met in Chicago at Josh's college, and spent the day walking around, and riding the trains and buses throughout downtown. Josh showed us all the great little restaurants, coffee shops and hidden gems as we all explored together.

Although they're not really city-loving people, this session represents a new chapter in their story. After Katie graduates, they'll get married and be moving downtown together.

(Disclaimer: This post is a lot longer than my typical blog posts due to the length of the session and my lack of being able to narrow it down to my favorite photos. Enjoy this rarity!)

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Credits: Photography by Eastlyn Bright Tolle and Joshua Tolle; Location: Chicago, IL; Video: Laura Nickle. All images are copyright protected.