West Side

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!

    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
  • Portfolio Contact Otto Facebook Twitter

    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
  • Portfolio Contact Otto Facebook Twitter

    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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    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.

    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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    Garfield Park Conservatory Family Portraits - Hamilton Family

    The Hamilton's are a great family and I always look forward to photographing them. Pam is a fellow artist/graphic designers and she gets the importance of family portraits. I love being around them and seeing them all interact. Their children are so mature and well behaved that I forget that they are as young as they are. Shooting at the Garfield Park Conservatory was Pam's idea. I totally dug that idea and we went with it. The Conservatory is a pretty amazing place to visit and to work in. There are so many background possibilities that one has to stop and really focus because there is so much there to choose from. I am sooooo glad that the weather was as beautiful as it was because we were then able to go outside for a majority of the shoot. There is a lily pond, a small bridge, an area of vintage looking stuff, and other really cool things. The Garfield Park Conservatory has become one of my favorite places in the city. Check them out!

    Here are a handful of my favorite shots. I am really happy with what we got that day. But what's even more important to me is that they loved the photos too! Thank you Hamilton family, you guys rock!

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    Set-Up

  • Nikon D700 - shooting in RAW
  • Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8
  • Tokina 12-24mm f/4.0
  • Nikon SB-800
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • 42" umbrella
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 for editing
  • Garfield Park Conservatory 300 N. Central Park Ave. Chicago, IL 60624-1996

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