St. Nicholas Day

Today is St. Nicholas Day or at least the day that it is celebrated by people here in the U.S. Growing up I always remember being surprised by the arrival of St. Nicholas Day and not knowing many people outside of my family who celebrated it. We never did much in the way of preparation for the visit of St. Nick so his visit always caught me off guard. I remember waking up on what often seemed like a random December to find out that St. Nick had stopped by the previous night and left a small gift for each member of the family.

I always kind of enjoyed the fact that St. Nicholas Day would sort of sneak up on me most years. I think that was part of the reason why I didn’t put much energy into keeping track of what date it was celebrated on. However, once I was in high school knowing that St. Nicholas day was coming was unavoidable. See in high school, I took German for my foreign language and we celebrated since it is traditionally celebrated in Germany. Every year in German, we would leave out cut outs of shoes attached to a cup for St. Nick. I think it’s a little funny that we actually did more to prepare of St. Nicholas Day in that class than my family ever did at home.

Now that I’ve told you about what St. Nicholas Day means to me, I figure I might as well provide a little information on good ole St. Nick. St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on a few different days depending on the culture. Western Christian cultures, such as Germany and the U.S., are known for celebrating on December 6th. This day is significant because it is the day when St. Nicholas passed away all the way back in the 4th century.

Of course I’m sure you’re wondering why St. Nicholas has a day where we celebrate his life. Well, he was a Greek bishop who was dedicated to helping the less fortunate. The story often told about him was at one time he came across an unfortunate man who could not afford the dowry for the marriages of his daughters. St. Nicholas ended up helping out this man by throwing three sacks of gold in this man’s house to serve as dowry for his daughters. Over time he became known for secretly giving gifts and leaving coins in people’s shoes.

The reputation of St. Nicholas leaving money in people’s shoes lead to the tradition in many cultures where people leave out their shoes by the fireplace or outside on December 5th in hopes of St Nicholas leaving gifts for them. If this sounds like a familiar tradition it is because Santa Claus came about from the traditions of St. Nicholas. So really good old St. Nick is the original and Santa Claus is a derivative of sorts that came from over here in the U.S.

November 2018

We're only a few days into December so I'm doing reasonably good on keeping up with my monthly updates. The month of November felt like it zoomed on by so quick and I'm not entirely sure what I did throughout the month. Looking back, I can't really say I did too much socially or in terms of photography actually.

My lone photography gig of the month was finishing the month by doing photography for Faith in Place's Lake County Annual Celebration and Fundraiser Luncheon. I also participated in Small Business Saturday for the third straight year with me setting up shop at the Parlor. Attendance was unimpressive, but I wasn't too surprised since the weather was a little cold and there's not much to draw people to downtown Waukegan. Events like that always lead to me contemplating how we can make our downtown a more desirable location for people to visit.

Meanwhile, my social life in was a little more active in comparison to my photography. Got together with friends who like to have game nights a couple times. First on the Saturday after Election Day, we gathered for an apartment warming at my friend Julio's new place. Then a week later, some of the usual game night crew convened at my friend Taylor's apartment.

Also, got together with some of my friends from high school a couple times during the week of Thanksgiving. The first time, we went to Anastasia's Restaurant and Sports Lounge to catch the Vikings playing the Bears on Sunday Night Football. The next time we had a home cooked dinner and hung out at my friend's place.

The month of December has a little more photography in store for me. A couple days from now, I'm going to be renting my friend Laura Rodriguez's studio for a family session. Then next week, I'll be taking portraits for the Waukegan Association of Music Partners at the three different winter concerts. I'm hoping that the red curtains I ordered for that, come in time.

For most people, the month of December is a pretty busy time of year. That is no exception for me as I have a few different holiday parties to attend in the next few weeks. Also, I will have to do one of my least favorite activities and get out for Christmas shopping.

Of course, the best part of this month for me is that it's my birth month. In fact, I share the same birth month as my parents. We started a tradition last year of going to Red Robin to get our bitrthday burgers together and plan on doing that this year as well.

The real excitement for me this month is happening around my birthday. Then again my birthday is usually pretty interesting since I was born on New Year's Eve and as a result it's pretty easy to find a good party to attend. This year I'll be out in San Francisco for Coalesce on my birthday and the new year. Definitely going to be a good way to celebrate my golden birthday.

Lifestyle Photography

I feel like sometimes it’s possible to speak something into existence. That’s partially the reason why I’m writing this blog entry on lifestyle photography. Recently, I’ve become interested in trying to do something a little different from many other photographers in my area and offering family lifestyle sessions. I’m sure there are some people reading this who are very knowledgeable on this and others who are not quite sure about what is lifestyle photography. Well, this post is meant more for the latter, the person who is here trying to find out about lifestyle photography.

Lifestyle photography is a blend of portrait photography and documentary photography. When most people think of having family portraits taken, the usual idea that pops to mind is getting a little dressed up, going to a scenic park or a studio, and smiling for the camera. That is considered portrait and in that situation a great deal of the session might be under control of the photographer as they direct different aspects such as light, backgrounds, poses, props, and clothes. Meanwhile, documentary photography is the complete opposite with the photographer acting as a fly on the wall and simply capturing events as they unfold.

Lifestyle photography blends components of these two types of photography in that the photographer will assert some direction in a session and then take a step back to capture people in action. These sessions are meant to reflect a slice of everyday life and as result choosing a location of significance is the responsibility of the client. Of course, normally the best spot is the family home since being there is part of most people’s typical day.

When on location in a family home, the aspects of a shoot that a photographer controls is usually limited to the lighting by deciding where to shoot in a room and location by moving furniture or other items to improve the layout of an area. That is the extent of a photographer’s control during a lifestyle session. Instead of the photographer directing clients into specific poses, they will provide actions as a starting point. From there it’s the photographer’s job is to provide an authentic glimpse into family members interacting with one another.

Lifestyle photography sessions provides a welcomed change from a traditional portrait sessions. These sessions are a pleasant mixture of authentic and staged, that give you more than a reminder of what life looked like, but also what it felt like. Plus, who can resist a photo that captures genuine emotion during a candid in between moment of life. If this type of session interests you, get in contact with me so we can make it happen.

Note: The images included in this blog post are not my own work, but rather examples of lifestyle photography from Simon Laroche Photographie and Nestling Photography

Veronica & Kevin | Courthouse Wedding

On a Saturday morning in late October, I was a at the courthouse to photograph the wedding of Veronica and Kevin. The funny part is that the last time I did photos for a wedding at the courthouse, it was the same weekend of the previous year. Surprisingly, the two days could not have been any more different from one another. First of all, the location has changed to the newly opened Lake County Court Tower after previously being performed at the Babcox Justice Center. Also, the wedding party for this one was a friend of the bride, while the one I photographed last year had the parents of the bride and groom in attendence

The biggest difference this year to me was the weather. I remember last year being surprised by how beautiful the weather was for late October. This year I was keeping an eye on the forecast and I wasn’t too optimistic about how it would turn out so I suggested we take photos inside the courthouse. For a moment when I arrived, I thought maybe my concern would be unfounded as the weather seemed alright. However, taking photos indoors looked like a very good decision when I went outside after the ceremony was over at received a greeting from cold weather and gusty winds. Plus, since the security at the courthouse knew I was a photographer they told me the best location in the building for portraits.