The Real Deal & The Photo Shoot That Wasn’t ~ Chicago Lifestyle Photographer

I’m not one to pretend everything is perfect when it isn’t (as you know), so I figured I’d share our last few days with you all. You know – just full disclosure.

I think we always see these “perfect” lives online – where couples are always smiling, laughing, cuddling, out on dates, and in this wonderful place. And those of us whose lives and marriages are not sunshine and rainbows 24/7 think, “How the hell do they do it?!” (Hint: NOBODY’S marriage is sunshine and rainbows 24/7! Just because people show that online, doesn’t mean that is the real deal all the time.)

Anyway after I wrote about my balance blunder in October, I got things under wraps a bit. James and I were going out to regular date nights and spending more time together. I was making a conscious decision to close down work at a reasonable hour most days and we were reconnecting. We were still crazy busy, but we were good.

Then along comes the “end” of our wedding season last Saturday. (I put that in quotes because it wasn’t technically the end, but just a momentary break until our last wedding of the year at the end of November.) This day for James marked a new beginning, more time together, and more importantly – an upcoming weekend off together. (I say “for James” because this is what he was envisioning in his head.) That day for me marked the end of weddings, but the beginning of a crazy two weeks of non-stop editing to turn around all our October weddings and sessions to clients, and a lot shooting – for people who wanted to squeeze in sessions before the ground is frozen and holidays are here.

So Friday was spent uploading, packaging up weddings, and wrapping up edits on 6 other sessions. Saturday morning we slept in and I made us a big breakfast since we had a little time before I had to run out the door for an engagement session downtown. I called James around 5 while I was running errands after the session to see what the plans were, and he had started cleaning the house and done laundry & homework all day, so he suggested we go to the gym together. After walking around downtown shooting all afternoon and only having eaten breakfast that day – the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. I wanted my couch, food, and a drink. haha. I expressed that to James and he said he was going to go to the gym “just for an hour” when I got home anyway then. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bummed, but took the opportunity to upload and cull that afternoon’s session and get a start on cleaning the house because I was hosting a Beautiful Session at home the next morning.

(I should note in here that this entire time the plan for Sunday was for James to handle Chloe while I had the session, but once it wrapped around 1pm, we were going to get ready for our own session. Because we are rebranding this off-season the plan was to shoot new photos of each other for the website that represent our current selves (as I mentioned in Friday’s post), and a few self-timer photos I wanted of our whole family.  I was looking forward to hanging out with James and Chloe and getting some beautiful images of us. Afterwards we had plans to finally hit up an Ethiopian restaurant we’ve been meaning to go to and were going to see a movie after that. Needless to say, at the end of a very busy week and equally busy weekend I was looking forward to this date afternoon/night with James. All of it.)

Anyway, Saturday night ended up he was at the gym longer than expected and so I worked longer than I planned. He got home, we made a late dinner, I continued my crazy cleaning spree so I wouldn’t have SO much to do the next morning before my client showed up, while James took a quiz that was due that night for school – and by the time we both wrapped up – I was ready for bed, but James wasn’t. So we cuddled on the couch a bit, then he tucked me in and kissed me goodnight so he could stay up late and watch a movie that I didn’t want to watch (i.e. a horror or action movie).

He stayed up later than planned apparently so when I woke him the next morning so he could wrangle Chloe while I hosted my Beautiful session he was a little groggy – and a sleepy James is not a happy James. (To put it lightly.) By the time the session wrapped and he came back home all he wanted to do was nap, and so we pushed the photos back a bit and he napped.

When he eventually woke up, he walked up to me with his angry face on and said, “I don’t want to do these pictures today.” To which I said, “This is the 4th time we’ve pushed these photos back and I told a client I was unavailable this afternoon for a shoot because we were supposed to be doing our session! And pretty soon the leaves will all be gone and it’ll be too cold for the photos!”  To which he said (in a more stern tone), “I am not doing these photos today.” (Apparently he really meant, I’d rather we just hang out and not do this ‘business’ stuff today… But he forgot that part.)

I felt like I might scream, so I proceeded to go in the bathroom to continue getting ready and contemplated what to say to fix this.

So I finally mustered up the courage to go tell him that he promised me we’d do these photos today, and we can’t just keep pushing them back because he doesn’t feel like doing them. And so he angrily said, “Okay fine. We’ll do the photos today, but after that I’m doing something by myself.” 

Ummm what???

I was looking forward to the date night more than I was the photos. I just figured if we were getting dressed up and looking nice for a date we might as well do our photos before and get them done with. I was frustrated and hurt (and crying in the bathroom) and quickly realized that the cozy, playful, and loving photos I was envisioning in my head were not going to come to life if this was the state we were in, and told him to forget it. We didn’t need to do the photos today. But James had already started shaving his head and insisted we just do them. I didn’t picture this turning out well, but continued to get ready upon his insisting.

And so we got ready, we packed up our gear, and drove to the location without hardly a word to each other. (Great start.)

It was freezing and we were running WAY later than planned at this point so we had about 10 minutes left of golden light before it dipped beyond the horizon.

Here are some of the photos we took. (Thankfully they are comical to us now.)



“Look at me like you love me…”

Stupid self-timer when I hadn’t focused yet.

For those of you that don’t know – this is James’ mad face (left). And that’s our worst attempt at acting like we are ‘cozy’ and in love (right).


About 5 minutes in, after a sad attempt at looking “cozy” and “happy”, I finally said “Forget it.” And this time he agreed. We packed up the car and drove home in silence. I looked out the window so he couldn’t see me crying. (For the record – I was not crying about the stupid photos – I was crying because we were in a bad place and James didn’t appear to like me very much at the moment.)

As we pulled up to our place and parked the car he said, “I’m going to run Chloe upstairs and then head to Woodmans.” (That is a store in Kenosha where James goes to get our groceries because they are way cheaper. It takes a few hours with the drive and shopping, so I knew that meant our night was done.)

I didn’t say anything in reply – I just waited in the car while he got the gear and headed upstairs, and I sobbed big ugly tears where he couldn’t see me. He didn’t appear to want to talk about anything and would rather just avoid the situation so I was just going to let him be by himself to process it all (which James likes to do occasionally). I pictured a night of crying into a wine glass while watching a rom-com with Chloe by my side looking worried about me.

I managed to get upstairs without James really seeing me and started to put up our gear. Eventually he came over and noticed me crying (a lot) and asked me why I was crying. He apparently thought I was crying about the photos (?!?!) and this whole time thought that was all I cared about, not our time together. Helllooooo, not true. After LOTS MORE CRYING (me) and LOTS more talking we finally realized this whole stupid thing was just a giant misinterpretation of each other’s intentions.

I didn’t know why he was refusing to do the photos and he didn’t understand why I wanted to do the photos. Ugh. PHOTOS. WHO NEEDS THEM?! (Juuuuuust Kiiiiiiiidding.)

He apologized profusely for taking his frustrations out on me and for not better communicating. I apologized for not letting him know how overwhelmed I was and that the amount of work I’d been doing lately was not a choice, so much as a necessity to get everything wrapped up before we leave for Hawaii so I can really enjoy our time there without unfinished work looming over me.


Oh relationships. (Am I right?!)


Thankfully we got on the same page after Chloe yelled at James for making me cry, licked my face until I stopped, and we changed into comfy clothes to head over to a BYOB sushi place near us for dinner.

We wrapped up the night with full bellies, all 3 of us piled on each other on the couch, dozing off to the sound of Sunday Night Football, and were sound asleep in bed by 9:30pm. And thankfully all was right in the Tyler house again.

Here’s to a new day, a better week ahead, keeping it real, and a reshoot of those terrible photos (someday). haha.


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!