I love Star Wars! I enjoy the movies, yes. But it's really just a total eye candy experience for me. So just imagine my excitement when I found out that Star Wars Day was happening in downtown Joliet - my very own town!!! I literally walk to this event every year. This was the second year in a row where I was the "official" photographer and was allowed to take the LARGE group photo of all of the dressed participants. What a total blast this year was for me as the energy was high and the costumes were simply amazing. Check them out and see you all next year for Star Wars Day 2019!
It was a balmy Christmas Eve this year in Joliet, which is a little odd. We're used to snow on the ground and frigid temperatures about this time of year. I'm not a huge fan of snow, but I'll admit that having the fluffy white stuff on the ground around Christmas time is pretty cool. I hope that you and your family have a great and memory filled Christmas this year. Here's my families Christmas Card for 2014.
What an amazing 2012 I've had, mostly due to my AMAZING clients! It's been the busiest year for me ever and also one of the most fulfilling. I've had the honor to photograph so many weddings this year, as well as photograph so many families! Thank you to all of my couples and families, you've all been so amazing and fun to work with that I couldn't imagine my life without the experiences that we've created! I'm looking forward to my 2013 weddings and families. Stay tuned to my blog and my Facebook page for more photos and for some fun contests as well - make sure to Like my page to stay up on the latest info. You can also check out some of my photos on Instagram. I am also thankful for the birth of my daughter - Emiliana Christine. We call her Mils and she has been such a joy. Here she is smiling at her sister who was standing behind me as I took this photograph. Emiliana, I love you!
Here's the annual Easter Family Portrait with all of the grand kids. My daughter and her cousins are growing up so fast and I wanted to capture that older/cooler vibe they're putting out. The exciting part of this portrait is knowing that next year my wife and I will have our newest daughter in the photo. I'm looking forward to that portrait session!
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The Princess Closet is a great organization created by Maria Davalos. Princess Closet has donated thousands of prom dresses to Chicago area high school girls since 2010. I had the honor to cover an event this past Saturday over at the Gads Hill Center. This particular Day Dream Event had over 100 girls attend - each walked away with a prom dress and a pair of shoes. Prom gets very expensive, so anyone that's attended a high school prom knows just how huge this is. The girls were also treated to a fashion show (first photo below) as well as beauty tips and life tips from some pretty amazing volunteers. I could go on about this amazing organization and about all of the smiling faces I had a chance to photograph, but we'll just let the photos do some talking. Please take a moment and check out the Princess Closet when you have a moment. Thanks!
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Christmas Day is tomorrow, and in a flash it will all be over. The older I get the more I see Christmas as a time to spend with my family and friends. It's really fun and cool seeing my daughter open up gifts and dress up in her "fancy dress" as she calls it. It's also fun to see her in a Santa Hat... I couldn't resist the urge to take a bunch of photos of her in that hat. But this time of year can't just be about shopping and buying stuff for the people in my life. I hope to raise my daughter in such a way that she knows that this time of year is about giving to others and about spending time with the people that she loves.
I can't believe that 2010 is just about done! Have a great Christmas everyone!
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By The Way: Christmas is also a time to make cool photos like this outdoors. Don't be afraid to step outside in the cold and make some photos.
I am really excited to share my Collages.net Brilliant Album with you all. The look and feel of this wedding album is stunning - it is both solid and elegant. You might be tempted to think that I am "supposed" to say all of this stuff because it is the album that I offer my clients. But that just isn't the case. I loved this album the first time I held it in my hands. I imagined my clients photos on the pages and got really excited. Heck, I thought how awesome my wedding photos would look on these pages. This album rocks, from the high gloss/full bleed cover, to the awesome printing job, to the flush-mount pages. I am so glad to provide my clients such a quality product as this.
Here are a few photos (these pictures don't do this album justice): [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="large" orderby="title"]
By The Way: Brides - Getting a wedding album should totally be on your wedding to-do-list. I wish that my wife and I could have ordered a wedding album like this one. Were these type of albums available 8 years ago? Instead I have a few framed prints and a shoe box full of negatives. All of your weddings memories should be in one place and an album is the perfect solution.
It's been a little over a year now that I attended the Dane Sanders Fasttrack Roadshow - now the Fasttrack Workshops. I decided not to blog about my experience right away because I felt - and feel - that an experience like I had would take time to show its fruits. I mean I could have written something like "Wow, I had such a great time at the Fasttrack Workshop! Dane is a really cool guy. I am so glad I went to the Workshop. You should go too." I felt that saying something like that would have been without heart and a bit empty. The Roadshow meant a whole lot to me and I wanted to share just a bit of what has happened in the last year.
This Is My Life/My Business
The biggest reason that I'm a big fan of Dane's Workshop is that it centers around "you" - well, in this case "me." So many other workshops or seminars are centered around f/stops and posing. The technical stuff is essential, but at this point in my photography career I needed more: more substance, more insight, more business savvy, etc. And this Workshop delivered on that, and then some. Seriously, it was a game changer for me in terms of how I viewed myself and my business. It helped me to mature and to view myself, business, and peers differently and with more respect.
These People Are Awesome!
I love the Fasttrack community. I met some really amazing people at the Workshop, and have since met a ton of them via the Fasttrack Forums and WPPI. It was cool meeting other photographers that were like me - wanting more and wanting change.
What stood out to me about this community was how open and willing everyone was to share about their life/business/art, etc. And I firmly believe that Dane Sanders attracts such people because he is such a person. His honesty and openness were refreshing, and his love for people was unexpected.
On The Fasttrack - or at least the Righttrack
So have I "arrived" at a better place in my photography career because of the Workshop? Well, life is a journey and the Workshop was an amazing stop for me. My goal in life is never not "arrive", but to constantly grow, change, and get better.
So with that goal in mind I have to say that the Workshop did help with my photography business. The Workshop is worth every last penny, and then some. If you are on the fence about going, then just get off of the fence and go. I know that I could have written so much more about my experience, but no one would want to read that much. Feel free to contact me and I will gladly share my experience with you or even answer any questions.
Dane, thank you for sharing so much with the photography community. I appreciate what you are about. You really give of yourself unlike anyone I have ever met in this industry. I hope to see you again at either Skips Summer School or at WPPI 2011.
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By The Way: Continued education and networking are such vital parts of our photography business. I encourage you to check out workshops like this one, but do your homework first and make sure that it is what you need. There are so many workshops out there, but not all are what you need right now.
My friend Todd invited me to the Matt Pond PA show a few weeks back. The band was playing at Lincoln Hall, which is a really cool and intimate venue - a perfect place to see a band like Matt Pond PA. I had never heard of the band, but was won over by a few of the tracks on their site. I love going to live shows, so I was pretty pumped and ready to see, feel, and hear some new music. It was amazing being so close to the band. I love seeing how the band members interact with each other at live shows, as well as how they communicate and play together. It was a great night all around: I enjoyed some food/drink with some of my favorite people and the bands were amazing. Here are a couple of my favorite photos from the night.
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By The Way: I challenged myself to only one lens for this show. I took my nifty-fifty and shot mostly at f/2.0. It was cool seeing how differently I shot the band compared to if I had brought my wide or zoom lens.
It's so cool seeing nature bloom. Gone is the snow and crazy cold Chicago winter - can you say AMEN to that! The colors are amazingly vibrant. The flowers are beautiful. The sun is lasting longer and longer, giving us more of that golden colored sunsets. The sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes due to allergies are a pain. But I don't even care about my allergy misery. I am just excited about having a camera in my hand and capturing these spring time moments. I am also super pumped about all of the weddings and family portraits that I will be a part of this 2010 season. I am excited for my brides and grooms, and I really appreciate the amazing commitment that they are making. I am humbled and honored that they have chose me to photograph their wedding. What an awesome task.
I have some really cool families that I will be taking their portraits. I love it when families make the time and get together for pictures. That is something that my family never did, though I wish we would have.
I am looking forward to the moments and memories that I will capture. I am enjoying the dreaming and planning that it takes before I photograph a wedding. Good times indeed.
Here are just a few nature pics I have taken at Humboldt Park. Nothing award winning per-se. But definitely stuff I have enjoyed shooting:
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By The Way: Let's be passionate about all forms of photography. I am a wedding and portrait photographer, sure enough. But I cannot keep my eyes off of the colors that are all around me at this moment, and I cannot stop taking pictures of trees and flowers. I might sound weird saying this stuff, but I can't stop shooting.
I really enjoyed this years Easter Sunday gathering: my mom-in-laws ham was SO GOOD, the weather was beautiful, and we had a Lamb Cake - yes, a Lamb Cake. It's not a REAL lamb, but it was a real good cake (there's a pic down below). It actually looked more like a cat than a lamb. I'm just sayin'. The family met up at my brother-in-laws house over in Flossmoor, IL. He and his wife recently purchased a really nice place over there. The house was packed and all of our kids made sure that there was not a silent moment all evening long. Seeing the kids dressed up in their Sunday's best was so cool - the girls looked so beautiful in their dresses and the boys were so handsome in their dress pants and shirts. They were all so endearing.
Here are a few pics from the day. I love the portraits of the kids. I had been looking forward to taking these photos all week long:
My many thanks to my family for making Easter so much fun. It was kind of a quick evening, but it was a much needed one.
Kid Portraits Set-Up
By The Way: I had pre-visualized where I would be taking the portraits of the kids. I had thought it through and knew what I wanted. But then came the rain. It forced me to rethink my plans and I had to make some quick decisions. I really liked the trees in the background and I figured they would make for a nice background.
Here is my WPPI 2010 experience in a nutshell:
- Enjoyed flying Southwest Airlines
- The Signature at MGM is fantastic
- Having 5 roomies was amazing - I love those guys/gals!
- Splitting food costs with roomies was one of the BEST ideas - highly recommended
- Should have bought more groceries at VONS - definitely more beer
- Party In The USA is the best song EVER
- The MGM Grand is HUMONGOUS! Should have worn my running shoes more often.
- Scheduling classes before arriving at WPPI was super helpful
- Budgeting for food and gear saved me from being overwhelmed
- Should have done more photo shoots
- I LOVE JASMINE STAR - JD is a stud
- Honored to have met Jamie Delaine
- Should have said hi to The Becker (walked by him like 5 times)
- Sarah Petty, Mike Colon, and Dennis Reggie are SUPER TALL
- FINALLY met Christine Tremoulet - wish we could have hung out more :'(
- It was great seeing Dane Sanders again - the world needs more guys like him
- Kenny Kim is a major connector and stud
- Bambi Cantrell is a posing DIVA!
- Have to get a photo booth
- Love Collages.net even more - Abbey rocks!
- Should have slept more - had more quiet time to reflect
- Pictage knows how to throw a party!!!
- David Jay and Mike Larson are amazing photogs and spiritual leaders
- Met a ton of fantastic people
- I have major iPhone envy
- WPPI 2011 - I want to go to there!
→ Here are a few pics to help me remember all that took place at WPPI: [gallery columns="1" size="large"]
There is so much more that I could write about. But it would probably bore you. Plus, I still need to write it all down and make sure that I don't forget all of the great stories and business ideas that I learned. One thing I can share with 100% confidence: I love the wedding/portrait industry! I am so glad I made it to WPPI.
By The Way: I should have remembered to bring my point-and-shoot camera. I could have captured a lot more of my experience at WPPI. Lesson learned.
I have known David and his family for a handful of years now. We both have toddler-aged daughters that are BFF's and have known each other since infancy. My wife and David's wife are friends as well. You can probably guess that we are pretty close. David is the kind of person you want to know: extremely loyal, funny, smart, and a huge U2 fan. He also posses an insane amount of movie and music knowledge. He KNOWS this stuff inside and out. I kid you not. I am always more than impressed with his knowledge of directors, producers, actors, plot lines, writers, performances, etc. I always feel like I can learn so much more about movies when I am around him... and I consider myself a "movie person." You can read his movie reviews on his site keeping it reel.
Here are a few portraits my friend David. The original plan was to photograph his daughter, but she was not having it (she's 3 going on 21). The lights were set up and ready to go. He "volunteered" for a few portraits and away we went - I am not one to let a portrait session pass. Here are a few of my favorites from that portrait session:
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By The Way: I loved that I was able to just use my strobes modeling light for this shoot. I should have set up a custom white balance though, as my colors were kind of funky out of camera. The high ISO shooting ability of the Nikon D700 allows for this kind of shoot.
The Help-Portrait experience was truly amazing. I am so grateful to Jeremy Cowart and his crew for having an idea about giving and making it happen. Because of the them a great community of photographers banded together to bring smiles to people that otherwise might not have smiled the day they were photographed. I am not posting images of the families that we served on Sunday (12.20.09), as that is not the reason to participate in Help-Portrait. We all helped out to give back and not to promote our work. But I do want to show off all of the other photographers, make-up artist, and hair stylists that helped out. They were all amazing and brought their unique talents to the Help-Portrait photo shoot. What an amazing group of people!
I want to thank everyone that made this day so memorable and special:
Hinojosa Photography - Veronica, you made so much happen that it is hard to imagine this event going so smoothly without you. I am so glad that Milo and your kiddos were there to help. They were amazing!
Jaclyn Simpson - Jaclyn, your awesome Lightroom editing and printing skills were impressive. Thanks for being so giving and such a joy to work with.
EB Creative Photography - Elisa, your studio set-up and knowledge was so rocking. The images you, Jaclyn, and Veronica made were so cool. It was awesome working together. And many thanks to your clients for their donations. Thanks!
Todd James Photography - Todd, my many thanks for making sure that the photos were edited and printed properly. It was a joy working with you. I hope we work together again soon!
Delack Media Group - Nathan, your video skills are impressive to say the least. You were so cool to be around and to work with. Thanks for the final video and the frames!!!
Emotia - Ray, thanks for your support and for your video skills. I look forward to seeing what you shot that day. Having you around was such an encouragement.
Starlight Makeup - Lillian, you were the star of the show in my humble opinion. You were the sole makeup artist and you made EVERYONE look so beautiful. So truly ROCK!
Tanya, Mona, Angela and Sam: you were all so great and made everyones hair look amazing. I was so surprised/impressed to see you all giving actual haircuts! Such great hearts. Angela and Sam, Please pass along my "thanks" to the Paul Mitchell School.
Little Village Boys & Girls Club 2801 S. Ridgeway Chicago, IL. 60623
Paul Mitchell the School Chicago 1225 South Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60607-5025 (312) 733-9285
By The Way: It really is better to give than to receive. I plan on giving more this year than ever before.
So what the heck is a wedding and family portrait photographer doing shooting the Chicago Polar Bear Swim of 2010? The only answer I can think of is that I am both a lover of photography and a little bit crazy. This polar swim is becoming a yearly ritual for me. It all started last year when I went down to North Ave Beach on March of 2009. I was not sure why I was there. It was cold. I was without friends. I had no coffee. All I had was my camera and a crazy idea that I would get some cool photos of a few brave and shivering people. I ended up having a blast and vowed to return this year.
This time I was warm and ready with some coffee and a few of my photog friends. I was also there cheering on my best friend David Fowlie. What a brave and cold soul. I had a blast and cannot wait to do it again in March. You can get more info about the Chicago Polar Plunge here. You can check out some of Gary Middendorf's (my brother-in-law) photos here.
Here are a handful of my favorite shots from the 2010 Polar Swim. Please remember, it was 19 degrees outside:
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North Avenue Beach 1000 North Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 742-5121
By The Way: It would have been nice to have had my 400mm lens today. I then could have captured more facial expressions. Lesson learned: bring my lenses!!!
"All is quiet on New Year's Day - A world in white gets underway - I want to be with you - Be with you night and dayNothing changes on New Year's Day - On New Year's Day"
Yeah, I am a U2 geek. I know it and embrace it. But here we are on another new years day. It is a quite morning so far, which is weird considering I have a 2 year old. I am getting ready to photograph a cool event I will be posting later and I also find myself in a very relaxed mood. I also find myself in a reflective mood.
I hope that you and I have a fantastic year. I need some time to dream it up and put on paper. I encourage you to do the same so that we can see our dreams and goals written out before us. I know that I need that this year. Here is to a ROCKIN' YEAR!
By The Way: I will be shooting the Chicago Polar Bear Plunge in the afternoon. I hope my camera doesn't freeze up...
Moving At The Speed of Light
Well 2009 is just about done. Can you believe I just said that?! This year flew by at the speed of light, maybe even quicker. There was a lot of stuff going on, a lot of stuff was experienced and a lot of growth occurred this year. Overall I am very glad that this year is over. That sounded very negative... but I assure you it is not. It has been one of the most humbling and amazing years of my short life. But I am looking forward to the new year and to the new decade.
Year-End Review for 2009
I love reading "top" lists and year-end reviews. They are a quick read into someones life, a quick glimpse into who someone is. They can be funny and quite shocking at times, but always revealing. So here goes my "top" list for 2009 - goodbye crazy decade!
Top Movie - Revolutionary Road: Awesome acting, very deep issues and a realistic story. Leo and Kate are awesome!
Top Song: - All The Things That I Have Done - The Killers: I know this is an older tune, but I just came to know it this year.
Best Concert - U2 at Soldiers Field. You can see more pics on my Facebook album: U2 360 Tour
Top Book - How To Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie: An oldie but absolute classic. A must read if you interact with humans.
Most Read Photo Blogs - Zack Arias: Atlanta based editorial music photographer that ROCKS! - Digital Pro Talk with David Ziser: Great blog on business and shooting. - Jasmine Star: Fabulous wedding photographer whose blog is a breathe of fresh air. She keeps it real. - Joe McNally: Awesome lighting guru that started my LOVE for off camera flash.
Most Read Non-Photo Blogs - engadget.com - This blog keeps my inner geek informed on all things technical and gadgets. - smashingmagazine.com - THE best blog for design, dev, and free stuff. A must if you are a visual creative. - Seth Godin: A great blog for marketing, branding, and just all around great advice.
My Favorite Blog Reader - Google Reader: Simple, amazing and oh so easy to use!
Favorite New Restaurant - Big Bowl: Amazing food at non-scary prices. Try their passion fruit ginger ale. My many thanks to my sis-in-law for recommending this place.
Favorite App - Things: An easy and powerful Get-Things-Done app for the Mac and iPhone or iTouch. Now I wish I had an iPhone so I could sink it with my MacBook...
Favorite Wedding Photos [gallery columns="1" size="large" orderby="title"]
Favorite Family Photo- Hamilton Family Portrait at The Garfield Park Conservatory
Favorite Portrait Photo of My Daughter- My Daughters Cute Froggy Boots
Favorite Model Photos
Favorite Personal Works- 2009 Polar Plunge
Favorite Personal Works - "Tree By The Lake" (inspiration for my logo)
Favorite Face Melting Solo - Tom Morello with The Boss on "Ghost of Tom Joad"
Best Investment (monetary and emotional) - Dane Sanders Roadshop Workshop This was an amazing workshop taught by an amazing person, Dane Sanders. I learned more about myself in this short 3 day workshop than I have in any other workshop I have EVER attended. Do yourself a huge favor and attend his workshop if you can make it. Just do it!
And In The End... of the year So there you have it. A few of my favorite things for 2009. I am looking forward to next year and I have a lot of ideas that I want to put into practice, some good ole' life changing ideas. I hope you have a great year and I look forward to blogging more and putting more of me into these pages. My most sincere Thank You to all that read this blog. Here's to a great New Year celebration!!!
By The Way: I am turning 30 this year. It is time to dream it all up for a new decade. I am looking forward to y 30's.
Happy holidays guys! I know we are all getting ready to celebrate with friends and family, so thanks for stopping by my blog. What are some things you are all doing for the holidays?
I am look forward to a few things like hanging out with my family and watching some movies. I am just about done with my Family DVD slide-show I do every year. So I am pretty darn excited about finishing that and giving it to my family on Christmas. I also just got a Play Station 3, so there will be some HD viewing this holiday season at my house.
I hope that you all have a fun time and make some amazing memories over the next week. Peace and see you soon!
By The Way: I am a big fan of holiday music. I especially like KT Tunstall's Christmas CD. Check it out!
Today marks the date of my 8th wedding anniversary. I almost cannot believe I just said that... 8th wedding anniversary. Wow, how quickly 8 years can go by without even knowing it. Will you join me as I travel down Memory Lane for a moment? It feels like Christina and I were just married a few years back, certainly not 8 years ago. We dated for about 3.5 years and we knew each other about 2 years prior to our courtship. I am really an awful mathematician (my older brother took all of the math genes), but if you add up all of those years they equal 13.5 years that I have known my wife. That is both a wild and amazing thought, and a very cool one as well.
We are high school sweethearts. We went to all of our proms together. She knew me when I had long hair ( I was trying to be Bono a la The Joshua Tree years). She has been with me through all of the disappointing jobs and through all of the fun jobs. And of course she is with me now as we raise our daughter. As I readied the images I am about to share I realized just how much history we have between us. We are both still very young and I hope that we continue to add to our memories. And I look forward to our love growing and maturing.
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Looking through our wedding photos was such an AMAZING experience. Seriously. Seeing those familiar faces on those 4x6 prints was like stepping into a time machine. Of course now that I am a wedding photographer I see these photos in a different light than I did when we first received them 8 years ago. Certainly I can look at the technical quality of these images and judge them and think about what I would have done differently to achieve a better exposure or pose. I could point out certain things I am not crazy about. Others might see them and find some flaw.
But the thing is that these are MY WEDDING photos and I love them.
I look at them and remember. I look at them and see family and friends I no longer see. I look at them and see a very young and naive version of myself and of my wife. I look at them and see just how gorgeous my wife looked. I look at them and see my mom and dad in the same room (they are divorced). I look at them and remember my wedding day. I sure hope that my wedding couples look at the photos I have created for them and remember and love their wedding day memories. Thanks for sharing this special day with me!
By The Way: I wonder what wedding photographer I would hire were I to get married today? David Ziser, Jasmine Star, or Mike Colon? Hey, it's nice to dream!
I am a NASA and space geek. I love the moon landing photos from Armstrong and Aldrin (pure medium format joy!). I loved "Apollo 13" and make sure to watch any PBS special that's focused on space. Think about all of the amazing technology it took to send people to the moon? It is just amazing stuff to me.
I actually visited the NASA station in Florida a handful of years back and LOVED it. I wish I would have seen an actual take-off. That's cool, I still had a great time as did my wife.
If ever I get to visit Houston I would love to go out shooting with some of these photographers, though the shooting would have to be in some place with plenty of air conditioning: Allison of Phreklnose Photography – an ultra cool children photographer in The Woodlands Joanna Garcia – Houston wedding photographer living the dream Eric Yeh – work hard, play harder. Shooting happy people and living their dreams Kim Ashford – mom, wife, Baton Rouge wedding photographer Morris Griffin – starting out but eager to learn Clark Lara – Clark and wife Rica are rockin' image makers! Aaron Hogan – lighting and emotion freak
By The Way: I don't think that the moon landing photos were fake. I also wonder what camera system they would take into space if ever there was another moon landing.