A drizzly day in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood is always a great photo opportunity. While on a photo walk with a fellow photographer, I looked down this gangway and saw this visual feast. I decided to use the 85mm lens wide open because it gave just enough reach without compressing the scene while lending an interesting depth of field--thereby preserving the jumbled feel that caught my eye.
While working today at Flavour Cooking School, I made these photos of Bacon Maple Cookies which Chef Denise Norton will be bringing out to the Thanksgiving Day Parade where she will be doing some on-air segments for WGN Channel 9's parade coverage.
Every time I see "Flavour Recipe Testing" on my calendar, I know it's going to be a great day. I absolutely love shooting for the upcoming cookbook because I get to surround myself with wonderful food and great people who make that food.
From a photography standpoint, I love the fact that I have an opportunity to really stretch my photographic muscles. I pull out a complete battery of gear: lenses, camera bodies, studio lights, speedlights, softboxes, tripods, radio triggers, magic arms...the list goes on. It's fun to put into practice all those techniques with which I'm constantly experimenting.
For today's post I thought I'd just pull a few of my many favorites from the past few sessions. I am so pleased that after every shoot, I come home with gigabytes of images that make me happy. I know that Chef Denise Norton, the owner of Flavur, is going to have quite a time sifting through all the images to pick those that will go into the cook book!
One chilly September morning, I found myself on a beach in Evanston, IL. There was no one around, although the evidence of other beach walkers dotted the sand. The billowy clouds, the churning lake, and the loneliness of the beach were quite appealing and worthy of photographing.
I decided to use the empty lifeguard's chair as a focal point to fill in the gaps of the story. To further enhance the sense of slight disorientation I was feeling, I chose to shoot with my fisheye lens.
Recently, I was photographing for a client. The shoot required me to have an assistant, and my friend Mandy graciously agreed to help out. She was invaluable during the entire day, and I greatly appreciated all of her help. During a moment of down time, I managed to grab this shot of her as we stood on the street waiting for the trolly to take the models and us to our next location.
I was so happy I happened to have my 50mm lens on my camera at the time, because it was the perfect lens for the perfect moment. This lens' color reproduction and the way it handles light is magical. I really liked the feel and tone it created for this photo...and I really like the candid moment I captured as Mandy gazed upward.
Once again, I tip my hat in thanks to Mandy for all her help!
While on a photo shoot, I captured a variety of images of the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, IL. It was a marvelous day with beautiful clouds. The temple is quite photogenic, and one of the challenges of photographing it is finding a perspective that shows off the architecture while simultaneously not losing context. I was pleased when I found this view of the temple against the sky with the reflecting pool in the foreground. One last challenge was to bring it all together. Originally, I was shooting with my 70-200 lens, but I found that to be far too long to make the image I saw in my head. So I switched to my EF8-15mm f/4L fisheye and everything fell into place.
For today, I thought I'd post a couple of black and white images:
I was fortunate enough to go on a photo walk with a friend of ours, Zainab. When I worked at my previous job, I knew of Zainab only peripherally as our job functions didn't really overlap. However, my wife Karen followed Zainab's Facebook stream. One night Karen said, "you have to check out her work...she has a good way of seeing things."
Well, once I took a look I was happy with what I saw. Karen suggested that we go on a photo walk together, and this past weekend schedules finally meshed. We met up near her new place of work after a shift and meandered around the neighborhood (the Western Ave. & Clybourn Ave. area of Chicago).
It was one of those days when everything we looked at screamed, "photograph me!" I am thrilled with the amount of keepers that came from the walk. I know a few will make their way into the art fairs this summer.
Here is a gallery of just a few of my favs. I will be processing and posting the rest over the next week or so.
Thanks to Zainab for a great day. I have seen her shots from the walk, and she is deservedly happy with what she got as well!
While meandering in the woods, I happened to look down toward the bank of a creek and saw this tire nestled in the mud and branches. There was just something about the shapes--and the juxtaposition of the trash against nature--that screamed, "photograph me!" How could I argue?
Every time we have a cook book recipe testing session at Flavour Cooking School, it's a doubly wonderful day for me. First, I get to make photos of fabulous food. Second, I get to be around the fabulous food as it's being created. As a bonus, I get to hang out with people who love making that fabulous food!
Every session gives me a gallery full of photographs which make me proud. It's so difficult to pick out favorites. But I thought that for today's posting, I go with a theme: Frosting & Cupcake. This is a Flavour favorite, a chocolate cupcake with cream cheese frosting.
Oh, and did I mention that part of every recipe testing includes taste evaluation?
I was on a mini photowalk recently, just carrying around my "traveling light" kit which consists of my Fuji X20. While waiting for a traffic light to change, I noticed this short urban ballet unfolding in front of me. I put camera to eye and snapped a few photographs. While the rest of them just didn't work for me, this particular frame felt genuine and presented more story than the rest...so here it is.
I particularly like this photo because it has an elusive street photography feel to it. I respect street photographers because capturing such moments is never as easy as it looks. It is amazing how many throw-away images go into making a single "keeper" when it comes to they dynamics of everyday life.
While walking on a trail through a forest preserve, I saw this bridge and loved the lines, shapes, and patterns it provided. Although it was visually interesting, the scene needed something else. A few minutes later I saw this gentleman approaching on his bicycle, all decked out in red. I had a feeling this was what I was waiting for. As he passes, I put camera to eye and fired off a few frames. This was the one that I liked the most. This was just one more instance of patience paying off. Had I just packed up and moved along with the initial shots of the bridge, I would have been happy. But having invested a few minutes in waiting, I was rewarded with this entirely different shot which, in my opinion, is much stronger because it adds not only a pop of great color but also a human element.
Karen and I were on our way to a gallery in Elgin, IL when we drove past this scene. She looked at me and wondered why I was still driving. Simultaneously, I was looking for a place where I could turn around. After doubling back, I pulled into the parking lot and hopped out of the car, camera in hand. I made a few shots of the scene, but then I decided that a panorama may be just the ticket to capture the mood and scope of what was in front of me.
Furthermore, I had envisioned this photo in black and white. The day itself was black and white: overcast, cold, and decidedly desaturated. The scene, too, just had a black and white feel. My next challenge was to communicate the lonely, aged feel that crept over me while standing there. I knew the building would do it, and I knew the barren intersection--criss-crossed with street lights and power lines--would do it too. But I felt it was the sign, blankly and poetically declaring "Last Chance," was my center piece. Given the panoramic aspect ratio, I felt putting that sign smack dab in the center and flanking it with the building and the intersection would communicate what I saw and felt by creating a meaningful fulcrum that tied the other two elements together.
While on a walk through Chicago's Chinatown, I meandered about with camera in hand looking for interesting scenes to shoot. I happened to see this gentleman and grabbed a shot on the go. I was using my small camera kit comprised of my 7D fitted with Canon's
wonderfully small and high performing 40mm pancake lens. It's an unobtrusive kit that makes for great street photography.
When I captured this image, I was shooting for the visceral moment. It wasn't until I got back to my computer that I saw the second vice--the bottle in his pocket--which ended up transforming this shot from an interesting story into a very interesting story.
I wanted to give everyone a heads-up that the show, Reveal: Ten Essentials at the Side Street Studio Arts gallery will be having a grand re-openoing on Friday, April 5th (sadly, I will not be able to attend this re-opening due to a previous photo commitment--but I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the show's original opening night!). I am proud to have several images represented in this great show. The collection is a fun mix of artists, media, and perspectives...all wrapped up in a comfortable, accessible space that is a credit to the studio directors, Tanner Melvin and Erin Rehberg as well as the show curator, Steven Lockwood. To learn more about the show and the wonderful artistic synergies going on at Side Street Studio Arts, you can visit their website at http://www.sidestreetstudioarts.org/.
I love when everyday scenes present themselves so perfectly...and scream out to be photographed. This photos was one example of this magical moment. I had just parked my car and was about to get out when I noticed this tableaux directly in front of me. It was as if an art director showed up minutes before and staged it for me: the red cart; the red stripe on the stark, white wall; the black of the asphalt accentuated by the shock of yellow from the line; the hint of depth provided by the corner of the wall on the left. It all came together so perfectly and looked so beautiful to me. Naturally, I had my camera with me, so I took it out, made a few shots, and went on with my errands smiling.
I had a marvelous time at the opening reception of the Reveal: Ten Essentials gallery show at the new Side Street Studio Arts Gallery in Elgin, IL. It's a beautiful new space with a great vibe. The gallery's inaugural show was curated by Batavia artist and Water Street Studio founder Steven Lockwood. I was impressed with the collection of artists and artwork he brought together for this showing.
Four of my pieces, The Tailor's Thread, Afternoon Napkins, Clouds Reflected, and Fortune were selected for inclusion. The reception was wonderfully attended and the energy in the room in support of the arts was fantastic.
A big "thank you" goes out to everyone involved with Sid Street Studio arts!
I am delighted to say that I am one of the featured artists in the Reveal: Ten Essentials gallery show at the new Side Street Studio Arts Gallery in Elgin, IL. The opening reception will be held on Friday, March 1st. The show itself will run from March 1 through April 13.
I hope to see you at the reception, but if you can't join us Friday, I hope you get a chance to check out this great new space!
Creativity in all it's forms is a mystery and a wonder. Although making photographs is my primary creative love and passion, in my previous artistic life I was a writer. I was an actor. I've dabble--with varying degrees of success--with music (the apex of which was playing tin whistle in an Irish rock band on the stage of Chicago's Vic Theater for St. Patrick's Day). And I truly feel that my enjoyment of cooking flows from all the creative possibilities that food provides.
I've learned that creativity cannot be pigeon-holed into one discipline or endeavor. It flows through all aspects of our life. It doesn't come to us in tightly defined boxes ("first, I'll be creative in writing, then when that's over, I'll be creative in photography, and when that's completed I'll be creative in cooking"). Instead of vying for our attention, all aspects of our creative life not only play well together, they enhance each other.
Recently, while combing through my hard drive for a particular file, I came across a biographical piece I wrote for a writing website I used to administer several years ago. As I read it, the hairs on my arms stood on end and my lips curled in a smile. Instant epiphany. My philosophy of writing sounded so familiar. In fact, it sounded nearly identical to my photographer's artist's statement. I realized that my fascination for the overlooked moments in life didn't just start with making pictures of them: I was also very interested in writing about them. There is something so very comforting in this realization from an artist's standpoint: I have a focus, a direction. And it's been there for a long, long time.
I participated in a workshop a while back where we were given an assignment: think about creativity. Specifically, answer these three questions about creativity:
- In your own words, define creativity.
- Where does it come from?
- How does it work?
I found this exercise deceptive in it's simplicity. At first, I figured it would be just some quick answers: a few ham-handed words and done. But the more I mulled over these three questions, the more expansive my answers became. I found that as I wrote, my thoughts came faster and faster, bumping into each other before my sluggish hands could get them out. My answers took on a life of their own. I was in the moment. I was in the "flow." And when I came back to my sense, here's what I had:
In your own words, define creativity.
Creativity is the ability to access the inaccessible portions of our consciousness and to synthesize seemingly unrelated concepts/constructs/ideas into something new and cohesive, causing our new creation to have a meaning which is greater than the sum of it’s parts.
Where does it come from?
Creativity originates in that elusive center of sentience. It comes from one’s awareness of the world (existence) and one’s place within it (individuality). Once this awareness is manifest, creativity is born of the fundamental drive to fashion meaning and order out of the myriad dissociative moments and events that make up that world every day. It springs from the desire to not only shape the world, but also to change it in a unique and meaningful way. It is no wonder that when humans invent myths and religions, one of the most important duties of the deity is that of creation.
How does it work?
Creativity works by allowing us to see in a way that exists outside of reality. If we think about it, being a creative means dancing upon that spider web of a line between sanity and madness. For instance, taken at its very basic nature, inventing stories is tantamount to imagining a world that doesn’t exist...and then saying it does. In some circles, one might be called “crazy” for saying such a thing.
But how do we see in such a way? How does creativity allow us dance upon that web? In all it’s mystery, creativity works by granting us access to the part of our being/essence/mind/spirit (insert your metaphysical construct of choice here) which is normally inaccessible: the part of us that holds the ability to conceive beyond mundane perception.
So there it is. Your results may vary.
When I saw this scene, I knew I wanted to photograph it, but I just wasn't sure where the photo was. I made a few shots at different angles and focal lengths, but I just wasn't excited by any of the results. I stepped back, got relatively wide with my lens, and then the three layers just appeared: layer 1--the shapes at the top as conveyed by the bricks and white cinder blocks; layer 2--the shapes as conveyed by the regimented doors; and layer 3--the shapes as conveyed by the white lines on the blue floor. I snapped and walked away happy to have mined the image.