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Meet Allison Dugan of Dugan Imaging in Libertyville

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Dugan.

Allison, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My fascination with cameras and taking pictures begin at an early age. In the beginning, pictures were taken with film, requiring me to send the photos out to be processed and wait for the prints to come back. My junior year in high school, I took a photography class for fun and was instantly hooked. It was by far my favorite class and I enjoyed every moment, however it took me nearly 8 years to get up enough courage to branch out and start my own business.

I officially opened Dugan Imaging in 2014, with a little in-home studio my husband helped build for me. We had just moved to Chicago and I didn’t know a lot of people, so to say I was scared is an understatement.

As I was building my client base and meeting new people, I took a job where I was able to take newborn photos for a company at the hospital. There was so much joy in the room! I thoroughly enjoyed this job, I just needed a way to make it my own. I quickly came up with a network of other professionals and we bounced ideas off each other.

My dream is to focus solely on babies and brides. I had the babies…I just needed a little nudge to get the brides. I have always wanted to photograph weddings. To capture that special moment that the couple would cherish forever. There was a bridal show coming up but the entry fee was out of my budget. My dad convinced me to go for it anyway and helped support me. My husband built a nice set to help show my style to all of the potential brides that weekend. The return has been fantastic and opportunities continue flow. It is a wonderful thing to have your job coupled with something you enjoy doing.  I am so lucky to have a supportive family and husband.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
With starting a business from the ground up there are always struggles and little bumps along the road. It’s overcoming them and how you get past them that matters.

With a business in this field there is always something to do and something new to learn. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I plan on doing with this business! Joe and I have 5 kids ranging in age from 10-3, getting this up and running in a new place with the kids was not easy. They see the time and work I put in, and failing was not an option.

Being a military wife, I have a lot of military clients, I love working closely with the military families out here. I have become friends and bonded with many of them. I have captured their maternity photos, the first year of their child’s life, their engagements and weddings. I have created such a bond with every family I work with. It’s hard not to when they invite me in to such a personal time in their life. After every 3 years the majority of the military families I work with leave to other parts of the world and country. I enjoy being able to keep track of their family through social media and hope one day to see them all again. However, it does not make it any easier when a family or couple has to move away.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Dugan Imaging – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We offer a full service studio and help create custom portraits. I meet with my clients over coffee and we go over every detail for the photo session. I am invested in every portrait session every step of the way. From picking out the perfect outfits to designing albums or wall art.

I started making the maternity dresses for moms to-be and outfits for newborn through the first year so that I would be able to create that perfect vision the new mom has. Joe is amazing with woodworking and has been creating custom props and new sets as well. I enjoy being able to create something special for every family that I work with!

Having the ability to customize each session and the bonding that I have with every family, bride, and groom is what I believe sets me apart.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
This year we were asked to go to our first destination wedding in Costa Rica! Joe was running the drone to capture aerial footage for the wedding couple. That with the photos I captured turned out to make an amazing video for the newlyweds. It was absolutely beautiful and I am so excited to add this to the list of what we offer!

The past three years my photography business has been solely based in North Chicago and I am so excited to share that has come to an end. This year we have not only opened up our booking for destination weddings, but will also be opening a studio in the Indianapolis area as well! It is a very exciting time and I am so looking forward to traveling more and meeting new people.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Head shot provided by: Isavel Gonzalez Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle Salvas

    March 9, 2018 at 2:43 am

    Dugan Imagining came to our home and captured precious photographs of our sweet granddaughter. We were so impressed with Allison, patients, kindness, gentleness and love for photography, not to mention creativity. We fell in love with her and highly recommend her to another friend of our with a newborn daughter and they were also so impressed with Allison work and professionalism that we can’t wait to hire her again as the children grow. As far as we’re concerned, she is a part of our extended family. We highly recommend her!! You will NOT go wrong hiring her for any occasion, we feel truly blessed.

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