Chicago Polar Bear Club - 2010 Polar Bear Swim Photos

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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Chicago Polar Club Swim 2010 from Otto Rascon on Vimeo.


  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • A lot of layers!!!
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 for editing
  • Flip Mino HD for video
  • iMovie for editing and exporting for web
  • North Avenue Beach 1000 North Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60611 (312) 742-5121

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    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!!!

    Space Love and a SEO Workshop in Houston

    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. SEO workshop Tofurious

    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

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    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.

    History Everywhere - Washington DC

    There is so much of this country that I have not experienced yet. One of the places that my wife and I really want to visit is Washington DC. My older brother visited this city a few years back and really had an incredible time there. He came back talking on and on about all of the cool things there are to see there. This got me all excited and have ever since wanted to check it out. Shooting a wedding in Washington DC must be so amazing with all of its rich history and importance. Maybe I will get my chance sooner than I think :) SEO workshop

    Here are a handful of DC photographers that I would love to chill with and go shooting with. Check them out:

    Jan Michele Photography – A very talented wedding and family photographer from Washington DC. Meaghan Elliot Photography – A chocolate connoisseur and creator of some really sweet images! Rodney Mickle – A cool and talented art and fashion wedding shooter.

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: I REALLY want to see the Lincoln Memorial. Hey, I am from Illinois! I have to represent.

    The Big "Manzana" & U2 Have Have Their Own "Way"


    New York is the one city that I am just bursting to visit. My wife and I have been wanting to go for a few years now... I think that it is time that we check out New York. I am a very big U2 fan, which adds another reason to visit NY. I mean what other city has a street named after my favorite band? Any city that is that cool has to be visited and loved. Plus, my daughter would probably really love Central Park and I would probably really love the Guggenheim Museum. I would for sure LOVE to shoot a wedding in New York... maybe soon :)

    I would also love to meet and hang out with some of NY's most amazing photographers. Check out some of their work:

    Jason Groupp – NYC’s most awesome wedding photographer. This dude rocks. John Michael Cooper – Amazing wedding photography. Amazing off camera flash work. Check him out. Seshu – Connecticut documentary wedding photography Shannon Kelley – Knoxville, TN wedding photographer Tim Dinofa – modern south NJ wedding photographer with very neat handwriting Steven Young – amongst the most awesome NYC peeps Willi Wong – NYC modern and lifestyle type of guy Jacobus Photography – Jared + Rachel Jacobus! Jason Miller – Washington DC guy but missed the DC workshop I guess Jim Altieri – CT! Tina Jay Photography – Philly! Kim Percival – just Kim (leading a double life) Darren Squashic – fresh and fun Ahmetze – NY and NJ awesomeness

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    By The Way: My favorite U2 song is probably "One." But a VERY close runner up is "A Sort Of Homecoming." Brilliant stuff.

    The OC is Oh-So Sexy

    TheOhSeeI am from the Midwest. Chicago to be exact. So whenever I hear of the "OC" I either think of the WB tv show or of the Old Orchard Mall in Skokie. I know, I know... I need to get out more. I will not argue anyone on that point. I would love to travel to the beautiful and warm OC, especially in the winter. Perhaps I can visit and hang with a few of these amazingly talented photographers when I go there in the future:

    Joel Llacar – Representing Westlake Village, California. A very talented wedding and portrait photographer. Jay Hsiang (studio) – Destination wedding photographer based in Los Angeles Amanda Rae – an awesome Ventura County wedding photographer Chris Schmitt Photography – another cool LA wedding photographer Henry Wang Photography – Los Angeles wedding and portrait photographer Kien Trinh Photography – Orange County wedding photographer Miguel Pola Photographers – Orange County wedding photographer Scott Land Photography – a selfless Southern California wedding photographer Caren Lazarus – Wedding and bridal hair accessories! Peter Garr – Southern California wedding photographer & LA Smug Leader Michelle Johnson – Los Angeles engagement photographer Chelsea Elizabeth Photography – Sassy Santa Barbara portrait photographer Shaun Austin – Kiss Wedding Books (World’s Simplest Album Company) Jeff Jochum – cool marketing guy from Smug Mug Robert Evans – Celebrity wedding photographer Candice Cunningham – awesome inventor of Camera Slingers Doug Boutwell – The most rad photoshop actions for wedding photographers Jenny Liu – sassy girl with a camera Jeff Neal Photography – guy who taught me how to use the tilt-shift lens Furious Photographers (blog) – Doug the edgy fashion wedding photographer

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    TV's Are Bigger in Dallas

    big_tvAre things really bigger in Texas? Well, this Dallas Cowboy TV is definitely bigger than anything else I have EVER seen. This tv is so big that U2 had to recently move the tv before they set up their stage, which is gigantic as well. I would love to see this screen in person. I would also love to meet these amazing photographers in person:

    Meegan Weaver – A very talented wedding and family portrait shooter! Her images pop with color and personality! Scott Pickering –A very driven shooter that has an eye for different styles. Table 4 Weddings – Amazing photographers. Check out their work! Catie Ronquillo – Catie rocks and simply keeps it real. She is also a fellow Dane Sanders Fast Track Photographer workshop attendee.

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    Some places are like your auntie, but there's no place like - Miami!

    popI am a huge U2 fan. One of my favorite songs of theirs is "Miami" from the album "POP." The main reason I like it is for its amazingly awesome drum beats. It is a weird and unusual song coming form a band like U2, but I appreciate that they recorded it. That song also made me want to visit that city as do these amazingly talented photographers:

    Roy Llera Photographers – Super fun and amazingly talented wedding photographers. Check them out! Todd Good – Is a talented family and wedding shooter. A dude after my own heart :) Lydia Shannon – Has a very fun blog and is super versatile, shooting families, weddings, seniors, etc. Check her out. Doreen Kline – Another Floridian talent shooting both weddings and families.

    Interview with Collages.net

    I was recently interviewed and highlighted on Collages.net's blog. Here is the link to read the interview: Collages.net Blog. I am honored to be a part of Collages blog, as they have offered me the best customer service and provide the best photographic products in the industry. All of my clients have absolutely loved their wedding albums and love the on-line photo ordering system that I host my wedding images on. I want to provide my clients with the best quality product available and Collages.net allows me to do that. So check it out and read on to learn a bit more about me and feel free to leave some comment love. Thanks Collages.net! CollagesBlog

    Rock On! info@ottorascon.com | my portfolio | facebook | twitter | 773.430.4785

    Tofurious Seattle SEO Workshop

    I really enjoy a good cup of coffee. It is a total comfort beverage that just makes for a good morning. But my tastes in coffee have changed throughout the years. I started drinking the instant stuff my dad used to drink and I thought "this coffee stuff is pretty nasty." Then college came around and I started drinking Dunkn Donuts' coffee. I really enjoyed this brands coffee and pretty much stuck to it for years. Then I decided to drink Starbucks coffee just to give it a try. I remember my first cup of coffee from Starbucks and thought "this stuff is nasty" and then proceeded to run to Dunkin' Donuts. But then after a while I actually started to enjoy the stronger tasting coffee and now enjoy it just about everyday. So I would be tickled pink to visit Seattle one day and check out the original store.


    But Starbucks is not the only reason I would like to visit Seattle. There are some really fantastic photographers that reside in Seattle and I think it would be amazing to meet and shoot with them. Chris Waters – A very cool website! Check out his Polaroid section. Awesome stuff. Eternal Reflections Photography – Beautiful and very romantic images. I love the images of the bride with the mountains in the background. Jenny GG Photography – Super creative and amazingly versatile! I love the "i see the family" images. Rockie Lee – Wow, Rockies images are amazing. And he shoots with a medium-format camera. That is too cool. Candice Cunningham – Amazing wedding shooter and creator of the camera sling! Josh Thompson – Solid wedding photographer rockin' it out in Seattle!

    Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    San Francisco Tofurious SEO Workshop

    I have always wanted to visit the west coast, especially San Francisco. You see I grew up watching "Full House," a family show that took place in SF. Please do not hate on me, as I am sure plenty of you were/are fans just like me. Hey, Uncle Jesse totally rocked and I had a minor crush on D.J... okay, a major crush. My sincerest apologies for the cheesy photo.


    But I digress. I recently had the privilege to attend the Tofurious SEO workshop here in Chicago. I had a really great time and learned a ton of stuff. I was also able to meet new photographers, which is always a blast. Tofurious is taking the SEO workshop all around the States and he recently visited San Francisco. These photographers are now a part of the Tofurious SEO club and are VERY talented people. I have been checking out their work and I must say, they really do ROCK! I hope that I will be able to meet you guys someday soon!

    Check out their work and give them some comment love! The Memory Journalists – wedding photography led by Jennifer Dunham Starr based in Folsom, CA Tiffany Fosnight – Adeline and Grace are wedding and boudoir rockstars in Napa Valley Marin Kristine – Bay Area boudoir and wedding photographer. We are Twitter buddies. { WLQ } Photography – San Francisco based engagement and wedding photographer Rebecca Wilkowski Photography – SF and Bay Area Green photojournalist Jessie Cho Photography – SF and Bay Area wedding photojournalist Dave Shilling Photography – From Sacramento who shoots rad pictures Lori Paladino Photography – SF and Bay Area wedding and lifestyle photographer Jerry Yoon Photography – San Francisco wedding photographer woot Kirstie Tweed – wedding and portrait photographer based in Banff, Canada

    Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    Chicago Tofurious SEO Workshop

    I read Jasmine Star's blog daily. I like her style and her photos are as unique and as fun as she is. So one day I see that she is endorsing an SEO workshop offered by a company called Tofurious. Trusting J*'s brand I naturally checked out what this SEO workshop was all about. I visited Tofurious' site and I am surprised to see the "A List" of photographers, such as Dane Sanders and [b]ecker, endorsing this workshop. My friend Ray Pryor of Emotia was already signed up to go, so it seemed that all signs were pointing me to this workshop. So I signed up and was in in for the SEO workshop ride. The day of the workshop arrives and I am pretty excited. I walk into the workshop room and see Lawrence Chan of Tofurious fame. We chat for a second before I meet Jules Wiegand (who ends up sitting next to me) and Kara Schultz. Ray sits down at the same table and we all chat for a sec. Then the studly Kenny Kim walks in fresh from his Italy workshop and sits next to me and then offers to pick up some Starbucks for anyone interested. Bob Davis ended up sitting at our table as well and brought along an amazing assortment of cookies. Thanks Bob!

    The workshop starts and the info pours in. I quickly realize how little I know about SEO and about blogging. Lawrence did his presentation and we all mingled in between the short breaks.

    I was able to meet some really amazing people at the workshop, all very talented photographers and smart business people. It was a pleasure meeting Doug Sturgeon , who came all the way from Toronto. Molly Michel from Madison, Kara Shultz, Jay Crihfield, and Dan Georgia, my friend from the Dane Sanders Fast Track Roadshow Workshop. I hope to see everyone again soon. These people are the salt of the Wedding Photography industry.

    We all went to get some pizza after the workshop. Here are a few pics from that fine dining experience at Giordanos.

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    Here are all of the photographers that attended the Chicago SEO workshop. Check out their sites and leave some comment love! Kenny Kim – Life style wedding photographer and all around stud Bob and Dawn Davis – Celebrity wedding photographer Kara Schultz – Chi-town wedding and boudoir photographer Ray Pryor – Emotia photography - fusion wizard Jules Wiegand – Quirky Louisville (Louville) photographer Jay Crihfield – Chicago wedding photographer who rocks Navy Pier Kenny Nakai – Once a teacher, now a rockin’ historian and fellow Nikon shooter Eclipse Photography – Toronto Awesomeness and world traveler Molly Michel – A girl who titles her blog posts, β€œWow” because it is expressive of her fun personality Dan Georgia – A photographer who captures the one’s uniqueness and fellow FTP'er Otto Rascon Photography – part graphic designer / part photographer – it will be the perfect marriage of art and photography - thanks for that discription Lawrence!

    Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    Chicago Event Photography // Zombieland Movie Screening

    I had a blast last night at the Chicago screening of Zombieland. I had seen a few previews of the movie and I was really pumped to go see it. So it was ON when my best friend David J. Fowlie (he writes for FanBoy Planet) told me he had scored a few screening passes from one of his favorite comic shops. YES!!! The overall atmosphere at the screening was amazing. It felt like a Halloween party, a pre-mature Halloween party, but a party nonetheless. My hats go off to all of the amazingly cool people that were out there with make-up and all - thanks for posing for me. You guys ROCKED and made the evening a memorable one! The movie was really good and Woody Harrelson was perfect as the lead character. You can read David's take on the evening on his blog.

    Here are a few of my favorite photos of the night: [gallery columns="1" size="large" orderby="title"]

    AMC Theatres River East 21 322 E Illinois St. Chicago, IL 60611 (888) 262-4386

    Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    NIPRA Pug Chug Hosted by Alpana Singh

    I recently had the privilege to photograph the Norther Illinois Pug Rescue & Adoptions (NIPRA) Pug Chug event. What is this Pug Chug event you might be asking. It is a charity event where pug lovers, of which I am one, gather together, drink wine and raise money to help aid in the rescuing of pugs. I would try to explain exactly how they rescue pugs, but you can read more about that here. This was a very casual gathering at the very fun and cool Juicy Wine Co. The event was hosted by non other than host of Check Please! Alpana Singh! My wife and I are big fans of the show, so meeting her was really a treat. I am glad that this organization is doing something they are passionate about and are helping pugs along the way.

    My many thanks to Jill and Alpana for making this happen. Thanks ladies, you ROCK!

    Juicy Wine Co. 694 North Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60622 (312) 492-6620

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    Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    Chicago Trash The Dress Photography Shootout

    I had a great time yesterday at the first ever Chicago Trash the Dress shootout. My many thanks to Melissa Diep for setting it up and making it happen. I was able to meet a lot of very amazing photographers and catch up with a few old friends. My many thanks also go out to the three talented models for being such good sports. Having 15 photographers pointing lenses and shouting out commands is not an easy task! Here are a few of my favorites. I was hoping for some major trashing of the dresses (i.e. mud, rips in the dresses, etc.), but I was more than happy with what we were able to capture. So my idea going into this shoot was to use a mixture of available light and strobe light. I also wanted to play around with composition and different points of view. I would love to hear your thoughts about these images so feel free to drop me a line. Thanks guys and Rock On! [gallery size="large" columns="1"] Thanks guys & see you later! - Contact Me | Wedding Portfolio | Little Ones Portfolio | Older Ones Portfolio

    My New Biz Cards // MyMiniCards.com

    I just received my newest set of business cards from a company calledΒ myminicards.com. I am really happy with the service that the company provided. I uploaded my files via ftp on Thursday morning and then received my cards on Saturday! Not too shabby.

    The print quality on the cards is really good. The thing that sold me was the fact that I could submit up to 25 photos for the back of the cards as well as 1 file for the front. Most companies will only print photos on the back of the card and then print text on the front.
    My overallΒ experienceΒ with myminicards.com has been great so far. The cards ship for free and come with a cool little card holder/dispencer. I might just go ahead and use them again for my next batch.

    Free To Succeed Tour

    I had the privilege to attend David Jay's "Free To Succeed" tour last night thanks to my friend and fellow wedding shooter Ray Pryor. Ray called me up the other day and asked if I would be interested in attending. He told me that David Jay and Jasmine Star would be speaking and would be talking about the wedding photography business. I was sold... especially after hearing that Jasmine Star would be there. Man, that fired me up! I love her work and her blog. I go there everyday for inspiration and to see what she is up to. You can only imagine how excited I was to see her in person. She is even cooler than what I had imagined, and even prettier in person. That girl has it going on. One day I hope to be as cool and pretty as she is...

    I learned so much at this seminar. My head is still spinning with ideas. I am very appreciative to both David and Jasmine for their openness and honesty. I really took to heart when David said that "we are here to serve our clients". That is so true, and that is something that I strive to do with every wedding that I shoot. Where would we be without our clients? They drive us to excel and to get better and to continue learning.

    So my many, many, many thanks to David Jay and to Jasmine Star for sharing such great insights and precious nuggets of information. I also wanted to thank my friend and fellow Rock Star photog Veronica Hinojosa for hanging with me and for taking the photos of me and DJ and Jasmine. Rock on!!!