Last week, I rented my friend’s studio space in downtown Waukegan and did my first ever mini session! Everything went well with the exception of the little girl not being the biggest fan of my strobe. Right now, I’m even looking forward to getting back into the studio again this weekend for another Christmas session. This was so inspiring that in 2019 I plan on hosting a few mini sessions in my own studio. So be sure to keep an eye out for those dates.
It has been about a month since I went to Chicago for this friendsgiving portrait meet. I would have posted these images sooner, but I’ve been prioritizing working on my business lately. As a result, photos from this got put on the back burner and I finally got around to editing these this past Saturday. I was even ready to post these images a couple days ago on Monday and the post that I made unfortunately seemed to vanish into thin air.
I first found out about this thanks to the fact that I saw the flyer on the Instagram story of someone I follow. From the get go, I was interested in checking out this event since it seemed like a welcome change of pace from my usual photography. I was definitely really excited when I found out that my schedule allowed time for this adventure.
The day of the event, I thought I had most everything set so that I could get to the meet up in time at North Avenue Beach. However, I ended having some issues with my main camera, which delayed my departure time. Eventually, I gave up on trying to resolve the issue I was having with my camera and opted for the older, used DSLR camera I had bought. While it wasn’t my first choice, it’s often said that the best camera is the one that you have available.
Since I was running late I was worried that by the time that I got to North Avenue Beach the group would have moved on and I would have no idea where to go find the group. So you better believe that I was a little relieved when I got to the beach and saw that the group was still there. At the same time, I was a little intimidated by how many photographers that had come to this meet.
I didn’t do a ton of photography at the beach since I was still kind of getting a feel for things. Not too long after my arrival, the group decided to move on over to their next location on the North Avenue Pedestrian Bridge. Some of the models went out of their way to create interesting shots by climbing the sides and on top of the bridge. This of course lead to a few drivers passing under the bridge to be a little worried about their safety and a visit from the cops just about the time we were finished at that location.
For our final location we moved on over to South Pond Pavilion. On the way over there, I easily spotted at least 4 family or engagement sessions taking place. Then again that shouldn’t be too surprising considering Lincoln Park is a good location for photos and it was the golden hour to boot. Our mass of photographers didn’t cause too much trouble other than maybe for the couple that was at the pavilion when we arrived. I can only imagine that it was a little frustrating when you think you have a location to yourself when suddenly a large group of photographers and models show up.
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.
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.
Around this time last year, I was not very knowledgeable on Faith in Place’s organization and even some of the information that I thought I knew was actually a little incorrect. The main reason I got involved with F.I.P. was because my friend, Celeste Flores, had recently been hired to work for F.I.P. as the outreach director in Lake County. The real change happened for me last year in November when she contacted me to see if I would attend their annual celebration and fundraising luncheon. Since my schedule was pretty flexible at that time, I accepted the invite despite the fact that I was not very well informed on F.I.P.
Prior to that day, I thought F.I.P. was associated strictly with Christian organizations and I wasn’t entirely sure what they did. Going to that luncheon helped to educate me on F.I.P. and the work they do. In actuality, the organization helps to bring together people of a variety of faiths with the common goal of protecting our Earth and its environment. It was really cool attending F.I.P.’s Green Team Summit in September and seeing first-hand such a broad range of faiths from Christian to Jewish to Muslim to Buddhist all in one place.
It’s interesting to hear the variety of work that F.I.P. does in an effort to protect our environment. Examples of the work they have done includes installing rain barrels, planting community gardens, and help houses of worship get solar panels. Their programs can be divided into four areas: energy and climate change, sustainable food and land use, water preservation, and advocacy. It was really great reading about how F.I.P. effected positive changes during 2017 in each of these areas of focus.
For energy and climate change, they helped to create the Nonprofit Green Lending Program. This allowed nonprofits, like houses of faith, to get low-interest loans to make suggested changes for greater energy efficiency. Also during 2017, they helped 4 faith communities to get solar panels up and running.
In the area of sustainable food and land use, they hosted winter farmers markets at 17 different houses of worship throughout Chicagoland. Additionally, they helped to make the farmers markets more accessible to some people as a result of receiving funding to match purchases of customers that use Link/SNAP benefits.
Programs that dealt with water preservation included the Eco-Ambassador youth program that consisted on 32 student participants this past year. This program taught them about a variety of environmental topics, including water preservation, and career paths. They learned about the issues through activities and field trips. Additionally in 2017, F.I.P. deployed and/or redeployed 155 rain barrels to houses of faith.
Finally, there is the work that F.I.P. has done with advocacy. Their mission in 2017 during when they went down to Springfield for their annual Advocacy Day was to inform their legislatures how important it is to create clean energy jobs. This was key in funds being kept for solar development and job training as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act. Also, they had meetings with State Treasurer Michael Frerichs to show their support fo the the previously mentioned Nonprofit Green Lending Program.
I felt like today was a good day to try to inform some new people about F.I.P. since it’s a pretty cool organization. Of course, I might be a little biased about this group since I have volunteered as a photographer for them on a few occasions over the last year. It’s been interesting seeing some other programs first-hand as a photographer for a winter farmers market, Advocacy Day, and the Green Team Summit. Then today, it all kind of came full circle with me as I volunteered at the annual celebration and fundraiser luncheon as a photographer this year.
In today’s day and age many people have come to expect nearly instant gratification. I’m happy to say that for the most part of my clients are pretty understanding that my photographs are not available the instant after a session is finished. Although, there have been those outliers that have mistakenly thought my job is mostly done as soon as when a session is finished. The reality of my job after a session is not as easy as me hooking up my camera to download the photos to my computer so I can immediately send them off. The truth is that much more of my time is spent working on photos after a shoot than it ever takes to capture a them.
The main hinderance to being able to deliver images almost immediately after a session is the fact that I wouldn’t want to deliver subpar work. Since I always want to deliver the highest quality product, I shoot exclusively in RAW photo format. The best part of this format is the fact that images are not compressed, like with JPEG format, and as a result there is more flexibility for editing the pictures I’ve taken. A couple of the major downsides though of RAW is that the files are larger and that some computers can’t read them. In fact, my process takes a little longer for me since the computer I use is older and can’t read the RAW files from my newer camera. Instead I have to upload my photos and then run them through a program to turn them into a format they can read.
For me, getting started on editing my photos is always the toughest part of this process. There a number of different reasons that might lead me to delay diving right in and getting to work. Sometimes it’s that the session occurred over the weekend and I’ll start to work on them in the new work week. You really can’t blame me too much for wanting to have a game night with friends on Saturday or wanting to have a semi-lazy Sunday with family. Other times during the work week, other parts of my business take priority, like e-mailing back potential new clients. I think really what causes me to delay is I know how invested I am in making each picture look just right.
When it comes to editing photos, the name that usually comes right to mind for most people is Photoshop. However, the truth of the matter is that most of my editing is done in Lightroom and not in Photoshop. The majority of the editing I do on my photos includes white balance, exposure, contrast, straightening, and cropping. Once I’ve edited all the photos from a gig, it’s time to be a little patient and wait for them to export in JPEG format for delivery to clients. From here, I normally put the photos on Google Photo and send my clients the link for the gallery of images.
Currently, my typical turnaround time for delivering images is one week for portrait sessions and two weeks for weddings and events. There are occasions where I can’t keep to these stated timeframes, but more often than not I’m able to achieve these target dates. The truth is that this is by no means set in stone since there are likely to be changes as my client base grows and my process changes evolves over time. .
People around Lake County have been anticipating winter storm Bruce since last Wednesday. For awhile there, the predictions on when it would hit and how much snow would arrive kept on changing. Yesterday, it felt like I could just head over to my Facebook newsfeed if I was looking for weather forecast and school closings. My dread of what to expect was really taken up a notch when I noticed announcement from a few different places about closing up early yesterday because of the impending storm.
To get an idea of how hard this storm hit (and to do some photography), I started my day by taking a walk to downtown Waukegan. I was happy to find that it was not nearly as bad outside as many forecasts predicted. I’ve heard that other parts of Lake County were hit with more snow, but it’s not too bad here. I’d say that the worst to come from this storm is that some folks in Waukegan have lost power.
The schools in Waukegan got a snow day today because there was some worries about how much snow we would ultimately be getting. I’m always a little jealous of the fact that it seems like schools in Waukegan have had so many snow days in recent years. I feel like in my time going through the schools in Waukegan, snow days were extremely rare. I almost believe that I had more snow days in my last semester of college than in all my years going through Waukegan schools.
I will always remember those snow days during my last semester of college because they were all thanks to the Snowpocalypse. There are those rare breed of snow storms where people still talk about even years after the fact and this was one of them. This storm kicked off February 2011 by dumping nearly 2 feet of snow and having some winds up to 60 miles per hour. It was truly a storm that wreaked havoc and brought many things to a halt.
My experience with the Snowpocalypse was slightly less intense than the Chicagoland area since my college in Peoria, IL, is generally a little warmer since it’s a little further south and not by a lake so there was not additional accumulation due to the lake effect. However, it still had much of the same impact in Peoria as other places and shut most everything down including my college, Bradley University.
For me, it really became a bit of wasted week for academics since I was at a strange point in my college career. At that time, I had only one class and in an attempt to save money I was trying to live back in Waukegan and crash on a friend’s coach when I visited campus to attend my class. I got back to campus that week late Monday night since the class was in the afternoon on Tuesday and Thursday. However, the next day the storm ended up hitting and lead to classes being canceled from Tuesday through Thursday.
While some people are out shopping in order to get some of those great deals at Black Friday sales, I’m staying home to work on getting things together for Small Business Saturday tomorrow. It feels like I almost have everything ready, but I’m probably forgetting something and I’ll be scrambling tomorrow morning to get things together and setup at 10am. In case you’re wondering where I’ll selling my wares, I’m back in downtown Waukegan at the Parlor again this year. I will be selling a variety of photographic prints and gift certificates for portrait sessions.
Much like last year, the Parlor will be a pop up shop where I’ll be joined by other local artists and craftspeople. Many of the people that are setting up shop are back after participating last year. The lone newbies we have are Albert and Dana Packard selling their jewelry. Even though there has not been much change with the participating vendors, I’m sure we have plenty of new, intriguing items for sale tomorrow.
We have SoozMaree and Stitching Bevy selling crocheted goods such as hats and scarves to stay warm during Illinois’ winter. Meanwhile if you’re into quality graphic t-shirts, Ed Pincombe is the guy you should see. Cassandra Anzelone sells jewelry as well as an assortment of other unique items. And I most certainly can’t forget about the mesmerizing art of Yvonne Pitts. So please stop by and see what we have to offer.
In addition to our pop up shop, there are a number of other businesses in downtown Waukegan partaking in Small Business Saturday. Dandelion Gallery will be open to show off their artwork including their small works show. Kapheim Studio will be welcoming customers to stop in and see Thom Kapheim’s distinctive artistic vision. And there will be savings a plenty to be found at Horsefeathers as tomorrow marks the beginning of their end-of-the-year mega sale. This is just a sample of some the small businesses that are a part of this. Hope to see you out tomorrow supporting your local small business.
Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving today. If posts about how to survive Thanksgiving are more in line with your reality, I wish you the best of luck in that regard. I am thankful that’s not how I feel about today, but then again I’ll be the first to admit I might not be overly excited about today if I was celebrating it with a ton of relatives. Normally, my Thanksgivings have mostly consisted of my immediate family and even that can be a little much sometimes.
Today’s Thanksgiving is looking like a fairly normal one over here. I’m definitely not going complain about that since at one point there was the possibility of my parents’ going up to Minnesota for Thanksgiving with my siblings that go to college up there. Instead those siblings have returned home and are here to enjoy our normal Thanksgiving festivities. Everything over here is fairly relaxed at the moment and I’m currently enjoying one of our newer holiday traditions of tequila sunrises in the morning.
It’s tough to say what I’m most looking forward to with the rest of the day, it’s a tough call between the game and the food. It’s definitely exciting that the Bears are playing on Thanksgiving for the first time in quite a while. I feel like every year I’ll watch a little bit of the Thanksgiving day games, but it’s a little hard to care when I don’t have much rooting interest in the games themselves. Also, it’s cool that it’s a meaningful game, which it feels like it’s been a while since that could be said about a Bears’ game this late in the season.
Then again, there are so many foods that I’m looking forward to having today too. The only drawback to the food, is the work needed to prepare it. Later, I’ll be helping out by making the green bean casserole, which has come to be known as my signature dish over the last few years. I also do my best to help out as needed to make the meal happen as well. The best part of all this is the meal itself. My mouth is just watering thinking about all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, eggnog, and pumpkin pie I’ll be having later. I’m most certainly ready to give thanks and enjoy the rest of today.
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.