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2018-19 Waukegan High School Boys Basketball

I meant to sort through and post my photos I took during the Waukegan Bulldogs’ season earlier then I actually am. I finally got inspired to make this post by the fact that Lake County Senior Shootout happened last Friday. I was aiming for having this post ready on Friday, but it ended up being a little more than I could actually handle so here I am posting it now. I also had thought about attending the Lake County Senior Shootout to see Waukegan’s seniors play one final time and I didn’t end up doing that either.

If you didn’t follow the Bulldogs this season, you missed out on one of their best teams in school history. I’ll be the first to admit that I really didn’t take notice and start attending games until the beginning of 2019, but I’m happy that I did. In total I attended 9 of Waukegan’s basketball games as I saw them play Lake Zurich, Dundee Crown, Zion-Benton, Libertyville, Fremd, Warren twice, and Stevenson twice. They were 7-2 in the games that I attended with sole losses being against Stevenson.

What this Waukegan squad composed mostly of seniors accomplished as both a team and individuals this season was great to see. It was awesome getting to see a team that set the school record for most wins in a single season, a share of the conference title, and made a run to the sectional championship. It was also exciting seeing Bryant Brown set the record for most points scored while playing for Waukegan. No doubt hey can hold their heads up high knowing that they made Waukegan proud this year. Next year definitely will not be the same with Bryant Brown, Andre White Jr., Jordan Brown, Jaylin Cunningham, Kavon Colder, Ja’Dyn Brown, and Ryan Edingburg all graduating.

March 2019

I don’t feel like the saying “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb” is accurate in terms of my month of March. My month had an interesting bit of variety to it when it comes to my photography. Early in the month I participated in a photography meet up hosted by Chi Shooters and We Out Here Gallery. Maybe this week I’ll end up getting to editing the photos from this event. The other photography meet up that I was planning on attending that was hosted by Visions Meet Up was cancelled since the host had an emergency that had to be attended to.

March 16th was a busy day for me that involved photography and my first time doing video work. In the morning, I was helping out the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum doing some video work during the Illinois Reads Book Festival that was taking place in town at the high school. Then, later in the afternoon I did some more video work during the dedication of Ray Bradbury Park as a literary landmark. Once that was finished my responsibilities set in as a photographer and I headed straight over to Undercroft Gallery to be there during ArtWauk that evening.

On the business front, a decent amount of progress is being made as I continue to try to promote my business. I am getting very close to securing one last wedding at my reduced rate that I was offering since I was portfolio building. So right now I have a bit of work to do as I’m planning on promoting my services at my new price. In March, I even had the honor of being the photographer for Dennis and Dareth Reed’s wedding. Be on the lookout for blog post about that some time down the line.

On social front in March, I got out to the sectional game between Waukegan and Stevenson. If you follow the Waukegan’s basketball team, you know it was sadly a loss for Waukegan. Granted, there are few things that can are quite as exciting as high school basketball at the Dog Pound in March. I also always consider running a gallery during ArtWauk to be a social event since I can usually count a few friends coming through and visiting. My final bit of fun for the month was going to Chicago to catch Emancipator at the Chop Shop in Chicago.

For the rest of the month of April, I don’t have many plans for the coming weeks. Right now one of the main events on the schedule is participating in ArtWauk on April 20th. Then the week after that, I’m going to be doing photography for a 50th wedding anniversary party out at Illinois Beach State Park. It is nothing too new for me as I normally am not much of a planner so I’m eager to see what this month has in store for me.

Thor Portrait Session

My Thor portrait session was a long time coming so I was happy that I finally knocked it out last month. See one group of my friends that I hangout with occasionally have different members of the Avengers that they consider to be their character. At some point I decided that I should Thor in that group since I was growing out my hair at the time and plus it seemed fitting since Thor's human alias was Donald Blake. 

The inspiration to do this shoot actually came a bit later when I found a Thor t-shirt at a thrift store in the spring last year. The cape ended up getting added in later in the year as it was part of my Thor costume that I wore for Halloween. The thing that really lead to me finally making this portrait session happen was that I decided it was finally time to get a haircut. That decision was kind of a combination of changing things up in the new year and also I just wasn't the biggest fan of having long hair. The very next day after this portrait session, I went out and got my first haircut in over a year and a half and I have to say I don't regret it one bit.  

Plus, I figured I wouldn’t lose my status as Thor since in the Marvel movies Thor was no longer sporting the long locks. As a friend of mine pointed out, I can still wear my Thor costume for next Halloween with the minor addition of an eye patch if I’m going for being him from Thor: Ragnarok. Then again I could just skip the eye patch altogether since Thor get a replacement eye in Avengers: Infinity War. Sorry if that spoiled it for anyone but you’ve had plenty of time to see the latest Avengers movie. It has even been available on Netflix for over a month now.

January 2019 is a free trial month

At some point during this January I saw the meme “I’ve decided that my 2019 will begin on February 1st. January is a free trial.” This idea has resonated with me a bit so it’s stuck with me since I first saw it. If we go along with this line of thinking, I hope you all had a good trial month and are ready for 2019 to know really begin now. For myself, January a bit of a mixed bag, but I’m looking forward to what the rest of 2019 has to offer.

The month of January went pretty well in regards to the business side of things which has me feeling optimistic since this is generally regarded as a slower time of year. I started the month by doing headshots for the Schuler Scholar Foundation’s Career and Internship Fair at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Skokie. It was very cool working for Schuler since I am an alum of their organization. I also had a couple portrait sessions them month with an engagement session at Lincoln Park Conservatory and a senior portrait session in my studio. My last gig of the month was doing photos for the induction service of Lucy Villalobos, who is a neighbor of my parents.

One of my main goals in the new year was being more social and meeting new people. On one hand I did go to a few more events than I normally do, however, that unfortunately did not result in meeting as many new people as I would have like it have. I feel like the upcoming months will be better for meeting new people as I’ll be more willing to go out as we move past cold, snowy weather that winter brings. There have been a few times this month where I skipped going out because I didn’t feel like dealing with the elements. I’m going to venture a guess that I’m not alone in having a preference to stay in at times for this reason.

Right now, my plans for the month of February are pretty open ended. For my business, the one plan I have for this month is participating in ArtWauk once again with my work on display at Undercroft Gallery. Otherwise, I don’t have any upcoming gigs this month so I just have to get to work on promoting my business in the mean time. I feel like it’s likely that things will be moving in a positive direction with my social life this month. The only semi solid plan I have is to try to attend as many Waukegan High School basketball games as I can this month. For the most part, I’m the type of guy who doesn’t plan too far ahead and instead makes plans as they come along so this month probably won’t be much different and I’m sure I’ll fine some fun adventures.

December 2018

It wasn’t that long ago that I was planning on blogging more often, yet here I am with it being over a month since my last blog post. I guess keeping up with this blog in the month of December was a little more than I could handle really. Going into the month, I did not have much on the calendar for photography work. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a few bookings throughout the month December.

During the month of December, I rented Laura Rodriguez’s studio a couple times for Christmas themed portrait sessions. I blogged about one of those sessions already and is actually the last post i made before I went on a bit of a hiatus from blogging. The other session that I did that studio was a Christmas pajama session and I’m hoping to blog about soon as long as I get permission to do so.

I also did some photography in my studio as well in the month of December. One of them was a fairly basic session where I created a portrait that was meant to be a partner piece for a portrait taken at a studio some years ago. The other session in my studio was part of the women of the Butler family. Since all of the family was in town, they decided it was an opportune time to get some portraits done. This session also was the first time that I’ve had dogs in my studio since two of their dogs were part of the portrait session.

Also, December marked my first foray into real estate photography. I was contacted one afternoon by Mauricio Solano from Greentown Investments with an inquiry about real estate photography. The next day I was out at the property taking photos of it before the remodeling work began. He told me that normally the homes they remodel are finished within a couple months. However, the property I photographed for him was going to take a little more time than normal since they planned on doing work on the driveway and that wasn’t possible until the warmer weather in spring. I’m intrigued to see how much it will change by the time I get to take the after photos.

December was also a positive month in terms of my social life. It was a decent blend between family, friends, and other organizations that I’m a part. It’s always nice how this time of year helps to bring people together. The Lake County Art League and the Waukegan Chamber of Commerce had holiday parties that overlapped so I had the opportunity to do a bit of party hopping one day. As far as my time with my family, we managed to get everyone that lives in the area together on Christmas Eve to celebrate and decorate some gingerbread cookies. Then to end the year, me and some friends of mine went out to San Francisco for Coalesce to celebrate my birthday and to ring in the New Year! I felt like I ended this year right and had a good December.

October 2018

I’m a little late on posting about the month of October, but the optimist in me figures it’s fine since the month of November isn’t quite half way over right now. Overall I would say October was a decent month even if there was not a ton going on in my world in regards to business and social life. I had a couple different photo sessions and one major social event during the month.

My first photo session was late in the month and brought me to the new tower of the Lake County courthouse for wedding photography. I was a little unsure of what to expect when I decided that we should take the formal photos indoors since the weather was not looking particularly good on that Saturday. I was happy that security there helped me out and pointed me in the direction of the best spot for photographs in the building.

The other photo session was with the Vasher family and took place on Halloween at Independence Grove. I was surprised at how nice the weather was for this shoot as it was comfortable to be outside even without a jacket. This is actually the third time I’ve photographed them over the last year-and-a-half. It’s always interesting getting to see the growth over time and being able to capture it.

The big social event for the month of October was going to Florida for Suwannee Hulaween with some friends of mine. Normally when I’ve attended festivals, me and a few people opt for driving to the festival grounds and camp in a tent. This time around we decided to switch it up a bit and fly out and rent a R.V. This was my second year going to Hulaween and enjoyed it as much this time if not more since we had the luxury of our camper to help escape the elements. Some of my favorite acts from the weekend were Manic Focus, Break Science, Minnesota, Gramatik, and Tipper.

Currently, I do not have a ton of plans for the month of November with my business. The only upcoming photography gig this month is capturing pictures for Faith in Place’s Annual Fundraiser. Also, I will once again be participating in Small Business Saturday and selling prints and gift certificates for photo sessions. I will be sharing space with a few other talented artists in downtown Waukegan at the Parlor. I also have some of my artistic work currently on display at Family Piano Co, Urban Edge, and the Jack Benny Center in Bowen Park.

My calendar is looking rather sparse for the rest of the month. This weekend was actually decent as far as events to attend was concerned. On Friday, I paid a brief visit to Booner’s Place for a networking event that drew a pretty sparse crowd. Then on Saturday, I had a good time going to my friend Julio’s new place for an apartment warming party. It was a ton of fun getting to hang out with a group of friends that I had not hung out with in quite awhile. Also, I’m counting this evening as an extension of the weekend since I’m planning on going to Sketchbook Brewing Co. for their 4th anniversary celebration. The rest of the month, I do not have much planned, but then again that can change pretty quickly sometimes. Well, I hope everyone has a good month of November and great Thanksgiving!

September 2018

September was positive month for me with both my business and social life. My biggest victory of this month was the fact that I made my monthly financial goal. With the exception of one week, I had photo work of one kind or another every week of the month. I began September with Mariana’s Quinceañera, which brought me out to Des Plaines for the ceremony and then back to Waukegan for the reception. Then a couple weeks later, I had two very different photography gigs in one week. The first one was a 1st birthday portrait session in my studio on a weekday. Then on the weekend, I went out to Dundee to do photography for the wedding of a former high school classmate of mine. The next Saturday, I worked as photographer for Faith in Place’s Green Team Summit at the Field Museum in Chicago. Finally, the last weekend of September saw me having a family portrait session at Bowen Park.

September was a much more active month for my social life than I originally expected. Going into last month, I was planning on staying in and only going out to catch Modest Mouse at the Genesee Theatre. Instead I ended up getting a little caught off guard by people inviting me to different get togethers and events. One of the bigger events that came out of nowhere was a buddy from high school inviting me out to catch the Cubs playing the Reds for a rare Friday night game at Wrigley. Then another Friday night, I went out to Palatine to catch a couple jam bands performing at Durty Nellies. In addition to these bigger events, I went out to a few local establishments and hung out with a few different groups of people.

Despite being nearly a week into the month of October, I’m not entirely sure what to expect of this month. At the moment, I do not have much scheduled for photography work. In fact, the only day of photography work I have could possibly be in the form of two weddings on a single day with a courthouse wedding in the morning and then a different, formal wedding in the afternoon. On the side, I’m back to helping my brother-in-law with some of his contract work on an as-needed basis. Meanwhile, I don’t have a ton planned for the next couple weeks for the social realm. Although, I am looking forward to going to a music festival later in this month.

August 2018

Photography work was minimal for the the month of August. One of the bookings that I thought I might have at the beginning of the month for a Racine couple's 10th anniversary fell through unfortunately. Meanwhile as I posted about in my last blog entry, I did the Larsen family portrait yet again this year. Also noteworthy for my photography is that I will have a few pieces on display at the Family Piano Company. Currently the photos on display are from summer since my plan is to have pieces that coordinate with seasons of the year. It's definitely a very cool opportunity that Family Piano Company has allowed me in using their space.

My big adventure for the month of August was going out to Colorado to see Pretty Light Live perform at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I'm very happy that I ended up finally making a trip out to Colorado after talking about it the last couple years. It was a great weekend with great music and friends in a beautiful environment. The only complaint I can possibly think of is that we did not do more exploring. Granted I'm hopeful that I'll make it back out that way some time to explore Colorado further. 

The month of September will definitely be an interesting one. On the first day of this month, I had my first big gig of the month as I photographed a quinceañera. Right now, I'm less than 2 weeks away from photographing the wedding of one a classmate from high school. Meanwhile as far as fun activities, we are now in the midst of one of the most exciting months on the sports calendar. College football started this weekend with my favorite teams, Notre Dame and the Ohio State University, winning their opening games. Then this weekend, the N.F.L. kicks off and the Bears face off against the Packers. And there's also my Cubs making a strong case once again to participate in playoff baseball again.

Spread the Hug

Spread the Hug is an organization that I first became involved with as a volunteer.  It all began in May 2017 when I came across an ad on Craigslist looking for a photographer for free hugs in downtown Chicago. Once I took a more thorough look at the ad and the related site (spreadthehug.love), I was impressed by the organization's mission and felt like it would an interesting opportunity for me to help out. The mission of Spread the Hug is breaking down barriers between people, reducing fear and hostility, cracking open hearts, spreading love, and encouraging a culture of kindness -- ONE BIG HUG at a time.

While the founder of the organization, Mark Abrams, was in Chicago for a business conference, he decided he would spend some time spreading the hug in the city. Our crew for this event consisted of 4 people: myself, Mark, another photographer named Meagan Baker, and a videographer named Anthony Lasala. Going into this, I think most of us thought we were only simply going to be chronicling Mark hugging people outside the Water Tower Place in Chicago. Instead, Mark encouraged us all to participate and we all did at one time or another. 

Helping and participating in this event in Chicago, ultimately lead to me becoming a seed of sorts for Spread the Hug. Once I got my hug dealer t-shirt in the mail, I began to wear it for one of the days of the festivals I attend. Over the last year, I have dealt hugs and given out awesome cards at Hulaween, Pretty Lights Detroit Night 2, Okechobee, Summer Camp, and Electric Forest. And don't worry because I do not plan on calling it quits any time soon. If you're interested in participating yourself, follow this link here.