Chicago

Sam & Rigo // Chicago Wedding Photography // North Avenue Beach House

I love Sam and Rigo. That's all that needs to be said, but I'll continue for the sake of detail. I photographed their engagement session last year and had a blast hanging out with them. It seemed that the laughter and joy didn't stop the entire evening - a sign of a fun wedding ahead. Sam got ready at her place in University-Village / Little Italy, along with her bridesmaids. The day was rolling and Sam was cool and calm - she stayed this way the entire day. Good for you Sam. After preparations we took off to the beautiful Assumption Catholic Church. It was a great ceremony and it was even better seeing Rigo and Sam smiling the entire time. These guys are so into each other!

The bridal party portraits took place at the North Avenue Beach House. It was a perfect day to be outdoors shooting near the lake. I was hoping for a lot of sun, and that's what we got that day. I love the photos of Rigo with the red background - he was living it up. I sure hope they had a ton of fun that day - I know I did.

The reception took place at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield - Schaumburg. The lobby to this place is really cool, very retro/modern. The floral design was done by Liz Middendorf of Specialties by Liz - she did a great job as the reception area was beautiful.

Here are a few pics from the wedding - one I'll remember for a long time:

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Thank you again Sam and Rigo. I'm so honored to have shared such an important/awesome day in your lives. My many thanks to my friend and second shooter Steven Ryne. It's always great working together with you!

Info on the venues:

Assumption Catholic Church 323 West Illinois Street Chicago, IL 60654

North Avenue Beach House 1600 N Lake Shore Dr Chicago, Illinois 60614 312.742.7529

Hyatt Regency Woodfield - Schaumburg 1800 East Golf Road Schaumburg, Illinois 60173 847.605.1234

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By The Way: Use off-camera flash even in the brightest of days. I know it might sound a little counterintuitive, but it rocks!

Merry Christmas!

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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Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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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.

    Logan Square Children's Portraits

    My approach towards children's portraits has changed this year. I'm still tempted to take really cute photos of babies and kids wearing funny/furry hats, and the like - I have done that in the past and really dig it. But kids are small adults in the making so I want to light them and photograph them in such a way. The idea has always been to clutter the scene with either a chair, a bunny rabbit, etc, in order to get the kids to laugh or smile and look cute. But with this photo shoot I wanted a totally minimalistic look, and so I photographed them on a white seamless background. I wanted the kids to be the center of attention and to stand out. I didn't want any visual distractions - just their expressions, either sad or happy, or whatever in-between expression they could give me. Plus, I really dig the timeless look that the white background gives.

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from this shoot. A few have been composited for the blog:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 3 Alien Bee 400's
  • Medium Softbox and 60" Umbrella
  • White Seamless background, 4 pieces of 4"x8" foam board and white tileboard
  • Photo Mechanic for culling
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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    By The Way: A lot of patience is needed when photographing kids. And patience is needed when shooting on a white seamless background. There is a lot to juggle on this type of shoot: kids, tough background, lighting, and interaction with the kids and the parents. Be ready for an exhausting time, but a fun time nonetheless.

    Beverly Family Portraits // The Covington Family

    Family portraits are really cool. Why you might ask? Well, I enjoy meeting new people and I also enjoy spending time with families. Seeing them interact with one another is a fun and there is always something to learn from the people I photograph. My family never got together for portraits, so it means a lot when families contact me and want to take portraits. My hope is that they will remember that photo shoot and that the photos I take will help them remember who they are as a family. So fast-forward to a few weeks back and to the Covington family portraits. They found me via a Google search and contacted me right away - gotta' love Google! We were able to schedule the shoot fairly quickly and ended up meeting at Kennedy Park on the cities south side. It was a really beautiful day, a bit on the hot side, but no one seemed to mind the heat and morning sun. It was fun for me to spend an hour or so with them. I just think that it's the coolest for a family to get together and make the portraits happen. So my many thanks to the Covington family!

    Here are a handful of my favorite photos:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Tokina 12-24mm f/4.0
  • Alien Bee 400
  • Vagabond Battery (portable power)
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 60" Umbrella
  • Photo Mechanic - For culling
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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    By The Way - Pretty much any location will work for a family portrait session. This session was in the morning and the sun was starting to get really bright and hot. There was also a good amount of construction going on all around the park, so finding the perfect location was a bit of a challenge. Trust your photographers intuition and shoot away!

    Wheaton Wedding Photography // Danada House // Caitlin + Michael

    Second shooting a wedding is a lot of fun, especially when I get to do so

      with a friend. These images are from a wedding I second shot with Todd James Photography a few months back. It was great photographing a wedding in Wheaton, especially in the downtown area - what a cool and quaint place it is!

      The reception was at the amazing Danada House in Wheaton. What an elegant location to be at and what a treat, as a photographer, to photograph such a beautiful bride and groom at this place. To see more of Caitlin & Michael's wedding you can check out Todd's photo's on his blog. Thanks again Todd!

      Here are a few pics from the wedding with permission of Todd James Photography:

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      By The Way: Being a second shooter is a ton of fun, but also a huge responsibility. Working with Todd was such a blast, but I know that I am there to serve him and his clients first. This was not my client but I still want to make sure that I rock it out for the main shooter.

    Tabitha + Joseph // A Family Celebration - Pt. 2

    A Wedding All Their Own

    Here is part 2 of Tabitha + Joe's wedding just as promised. I hope that the photos communicate the fun spirit of this wedding, a wedding that was totally their own.

    I really loved the non-traditional setting of this wedding - from the outdoor ceremony to the portraits shot on a hill in a nearby park. The feeling of family and friends was all over this wedding, and I loved it. You see my wife was the matron of honor, my daughter was the flower girl, and my brother-in-law officiated the wedding. So familiar faces were all over the place. It was really cool seeing Tabitha and Joe's families come together to celebrate their wedding day.

    Shooting this wedding was special for me because I have known Tabitha since we were teenagers. I couldn't help but feel reminiscent of our teenage years! It was amazing seeing her at the alter and then think about where our lives have headed since we were 14.

    So enough of my emotional babble and on to the photos. Here are just a few of my favorites from Tabitha + Joe's wedding day:

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    So my many thanks to Tabitha and Joe for having me be a part of their wedding. It really is a pleasure and honor to photograph someone's wedding, it's one of the coolest jobs I can think of. My many thanks also go to the fabulous, and super talented, Suzy Rohan for assisting and shooting with me. I always have a blast working with her. You rock Suzy!

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    By The Way: During the formal portraits we were invaded by a small army of gnats. We had completed about 80% of the formals. My temptation was to move to a new location, and spend more of my clients time, but I knew that having all of the portraits in the same location would look best. Stick to your vision even if there are nasty little gnats annoying the entire family of the bride and groom :)

    Playing in Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds // Grace Turns 4

    Silver Balloons Make Me Happy

    A good time for me involves a few things: cool balloons, a beautiful afternoon, good food, and taking portraits of a 4 year old full of energy. Thus, this shoot was a good time indeed.

    The portraits took place in Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology - I love the IIT campus! It's a great place to take portraits - it's peaceful and full of locations and amazing backgrounds. The coolest part of Crown Hall was Andy Worhol's "Silver Clouds" exhibit, as well as the Lego City exhibit. This made for an amazing and interesting photo shoot. Running through and around the silver balloons was a blast, and almost surreal. I could feel my imagination running at warp speed.

    The portrait session ended at Pompei on Taylor street. I hadn't intended on shooting there, but the location and lighting was perfect for some candid and posed portraits of Grace. Here are a few of my favorite pictures of the day:

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    Check out more of Crown Hall and the IIT campus.

    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Tamron 12-24mm f/4.0
  • Nikon SB-800
  • Nikon CLS for OCF
  • 30" Umbrella
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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    By The Way: Be a kid in order to take some fun photos of kids. I had a blast running though the balloons, and I am sure that Grace noticed my willingness to be a kid.

    Henry Turns 3 // Hanging Out in Oak Park

    Just Hanging Around

    Henry's 3 year photo shoot was a cool and chilled out session - just check out his Superman shirt and Keens! We, my family and his, met up at the Caribou Coffee on Lake St. and Oak Park Ave. We ordered some drinks and I started taking photographs, all while chatting and hanging out. I guess this could have been considered my first ever lifestyle session.

    After the coffee stop (no, the kids didn't drink coffee) we walked around the quaint Oak Park downtown area, where we found a few cool places to shoot. We then walked over to Scoville Park and finished the shoot there. The last three photos are from the park.

    It was pretty much the perfect afternoon: hung out with friends, beautiful weather, ate good pizza, and took some cool photos. Here are a few of my favorite photos from our portrait session:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon SB-800
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 30" Reflector
  • Lastolite EzyBox Softbox
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
  • The Park District of Forest Park

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    By The Way: Shoot wherever the light looks best. There was beautiful reflective light inside the Caribou Coffee shop. I hadn't planned on shooting inside, but the light and location made for a great starting point to our session. Rock on!

    My Pride & Joy Turns 3 // And Her Myriad Expressions

    Time Really Does Fly By

    My daughter just turned 3 and I still cannot make sense of how fast that happened. I still remember my wife being pregnant with our daughter, and how special that time was. I remember how we would try to image our daughters face, or how her laugh would sound.

    But now she's here, loud and clear! I love her laughter and I gaze at her beauty everyday. I cannot imagine my life without her, nor can I imagine what I used to do without her in my life. What did I do with all of that free time :)

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from our shoot. We shot these in the beautiful Sunken Gardens on Homan and Polk St.

    Please indulge a proud dad and check out a few of these with me:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Alien Bee 400
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 30" Reflector
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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    By The Way: Kids never seem to stop moving. So I generally move with them. But stick to your guns and get the shot that you envisioned. I plopped my Alien Bee and battery pack and shot away until I got what I wanted.

    Almost Too Cute // Chicago Fun Kids Portraits

    The β€œHat” Photoshoot

    Hattie is seriously a little cutie. This shoot was a lot different from her 3 month shoot, but a ton of fun nonetheless. She was just so easy to work with, and those hats were amazing!

    The idea for this shoot was to do something a little different and to create some colorful images. The lighting set-up was simple: one light with a beauty dish modifier and colorful background. Here are a few of my favorites:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Alien Bee 400
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 22" Beauty Dish
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
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    By The Way: Sometimes a very simple light set-up is all that is needed to create some fun photographs. Total time for this set-up was about 4 minutes, and total shooting time was abut 12 minutes or so. Rock on!

    Chicago Wedding Vendors Unite // Thanks Tweet-Up!

    I had the honor of being the official photographer at the Wedding Industry Cocktail Hour Tweet-Up hosted by the amazing Five Grain Events and bon moment! - Joan and Maureen, you gals are amazing!

    Amazing Chicago Wedding Vendors

    The event was held at Elate Restaurant in the Hotel Felix Chicago. It was the perfect setting for the event. The location and style of the restaurant was really inspiring. Thanks Elate!

    Other sponsored wedding vendors were the talented Keiko of Keiko Studio. Her floral arrangements were amazing and very unique. I had never seen floral arrangements with pieces of lime before. Awesome stuff indeed.

    Candice of cacao sweets & treats provided the delicious treats that we all enjoyed. I loved seeing her work, and tasting it too!

    My many thanks to Joan and Maureen for making this event happen. I had a great time meeting with so many Chicago wedding vendors. I was also able to catch up with a few old friends. I look forward to the next meeting. Rock on!

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    Elate At The Hotel Felix Chicago 111 West Huron Street Chicago, IL 60654-8706 (312) 202-9900

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    Tabitha + Joseph // A Family Celebration - Pt. 1

    We Go Way Back

    Tabitha and my wife, Christina, are best friends and have known each other forever. I met Tabitha when I was 16 years old, so we go way back as well. In fact, Tabitha was there the night that I asked Christina to be my girlfriend, and was also there on our first date. She means a ton to us, so it was an amazing experience being her wedding photographer. What a treat!

    A Few Quick Pics

    I am so excited about how well Tabitha + Joe's wedding went. It was supposed to rain the entire day, but we were able to somehow dodge the rain. In fact, the sun came out the moment she started walking down the aisle - NO JOKE! It was awesome.

    Here are a few pics from her wedding that I am pumped to share. More to come for sure!

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    By The Way: Let's keep a positive outlook when it comes to weather. The most important part of a wedding is that the couple wed - plain and simple. So we must keep that in mind when the rain is pouring or the humidity is at suffocating levels :)

    Jennifer + Rob // Naperville Wedding Photography

    The Wedding Photographer Connection

    I met Steven Chellappa about a year ago. Steve is my boy and a fellow wedding photographer. I shot a wedding with him earlier this year and went on a photo adventure late last year. We ht it off quickly and have fun every time we hang out.

    The Long & Short of It

    So Jennifer if Steve's sister - in case you were wondering who Steve was. He forwarded her my info, she emailed me, we set up a meeting, I photographed her wedding, and now you're reading the blog post about her wedding. That's how I met Jennifer and Rob in nutshell.

    Jennifer, Rob, and I met up at a local Starbucks and it's safe to say that I liked them right away. They kind of reminded me of my wife and I before we married. They posses this quietness and integrity that I rarely get to see in a younger couple. They're both crazy bright and a lot of fun to talk with. It was cool getting to know them as I listened to them share about how they met. I was excited to meet Steve's family and spend time with them at Jennifer's wedding. It was such a beautiful wedding and Jennifer looked amazing in her dress. I am sure Rob would agree. Shooting with my girl, Jaclyn Simpson, made this wedding even more of a blast.

    Awesome Naperville Wedding Vendors

    All weddings are a huge collaboration of many talented vendors. This wedding was no exception. Here are the vendors that made the wedding amazing: β€’ Jennifer's hair was done by the talented Mia Sorella Salon & Boutique - Tiffany Christiansen rocked it out and was great to work with. β€’ Floral arrangements by Karen's Floral Expressions - The bouquets looked amazing and were a blast to photograph. β€’ The wedding & reception were at the beautiful Meson Sabika out in Naperville.

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from Jennifer + Rob's wedding:

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    By The Way: Always be ready to think on your feet! Weddings are great events, though sometimes the day goes by a little faster than expected and thus we have to make quick decisions about locations, posing, and lighting. But remember: creativity is brought on by limitations. Rock it out!

    Happy Anniversary Vanessa + Luis // 07.25.09

    One year Ago

    It was one year ago today that Vanessa + Luis tied the knot in the beautiful Holy Cross Church. I was so honored to have been their wedding photographer and to have experienced their amazing wedding day. You can see the original post here. Congratulations to you guys. I hope that you had a great year - and here's to MANY more!

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from Vanessa + Luis' wedding:

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    Laughter & Love // Elysia + Donny Married

    Donny The iPod Guy

    It's an honor doing what I do. Photographing my bride and groom is something I never take for granted. Elysia + Donny's wedding was particularly an honor because they are my friends - and they are totally into each other :)

    I met Donny back when I was a student at The Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago where we were both Visual Communications (graphic design) majors. Donny was the first person I ever met that owned an iPod - remember how big and monochromatic they used to be? That pretty much made him the coolest person I knew at that point in my life. As time passed I got to know him and had the chance to work on a few jobs together. He's a brilliant person, and both compassionate and crazy talented. Yes, he's one of "those" people, the type that just get things so much quicker than most. Oh, my daughter loves him and he introduce me to Penny's Noodles. What more can I say?

    So one day I hear that he and Elysia are getting married! My wife and I flipped (not literally). You see, we had secretly been hoping that they would wed. I totally wanted to shoot their wedding and was so glad that he and Elysia felt the same. They are amazing people, the kind you just want to hang with, chat, laugh, and have meals with.

    Awesome Chicago Wedding Vendors

    Weddings are all about collaborations. And when each do their part, amazing things happen. These Chicago wedding vendors rock:

    β€’ Floral arrangements by the amazing fleur - Kelly and her crew did an amazing job!!! β€’ Elysia's dress was custom made by Dame Couture in Evanston. β€’ Location: Glessner House Museum and Woman's Park and Garden in the South Loop.

    Here are a few of my favorite photos from Elysia + Donny's wedding:

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    Elysia and Donny: thank you again for having Christina and I be a part of such an amazing day in your lives. Seeing you guys make your vows was so inspiring. I hope that you have amazing futures and that we have many more dinner dates. You guys rock!

    My thanks also go to my friend Nick for assisting me. You rock Nick!

    Glessner House Museum 1800 S. Prairie Avenue Chicago, IL. 60616 312.326.1480 fax - 312.326.1397

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    By The Way: I always listen to and enjoy the vows made at the ceremony. This is what the wedding day is really all about! I know as photographers we want to capture those really cool and sexy photos after - but let's enjoy all aspects of the wedding day.

    I Love These Kids! Chicago Fun Kid Portraits

    I really do love these kids. The first two lil' ones I have known since they were newborns and the last is my daughter. These are milestone photos, as the older ones are turning 3 and the little Hatted Cuttie is 6 months old. It has been so cool seeing these kiddos grow up and being there taking their portraits along the way. More pics to come. [gallery columns="1" size="large"]

    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon SB-800
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 30" Reflector
  • Lastolite EzyBox Softbox
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 for editing
  • The Park District of Forest Park

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    By The Way: Patience is indeed a virtue. Photographing kids is a challenge, but the return on that energy/patience investment is amazing.

    On the Fasttrack // One Year Later

    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.

    Thank you.

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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.

    Something A Little Different // Matt Pond PA Show

    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.

    Oak Park Family Portraits // The Shannon Family

    I received 2 separate emails a few weeks back, on the same day, asking if I was available to do family portraits. Cool. Not a problem. Both emails were asking for the same type of portraits and then were asking if I was available for the same date. That was a little odd. I thought "hey, two family portrait sessions on the same day works for me." I come to find, a few days later, that it is the same family inquiring. Pretty funny stuff indeed. So that is how I met the Shannon family, a beautiful and warm family from Chicago. They were looking for both family portraits and graduation portraits, as both daughters were graduating from college. I was really excited about this shoot as it would take place outdoors and in Oak Park - 2 places I am fond of. The shoot ended up taking place in Forest Park, the park on Harlem Ave. and Lake St. But I digress.

    I was finally able to meet Maureen and her family - what a great group of people, and they all looked amazing! This shoot was truly a family event as my wife and daughter hung out with us as we photographed the Shannon family. This had to be one of the most relaxed and fun shoots in a while, and all thanks to the Shannon's. They were just cool, laid back, and fun to be around.

    I had my friend, the very talented Nick Wrzesinski, shoot with and assist me on this family session. It was awesome having Nick there to help with lighting and second shooting. He captured some amazing portraits!

    Here are a handful of my favorite photos:

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4
  • Alien Bee 400
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • Medium Softbox
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 for editing
  • The Park District of Forest Park

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