Rows of Corn...

Chicago style.


Dream Vacation

Meet Five year old Aries Gonzalez. At 20 months old he was diagnosed with Leukemia. It was treated but he relapsed shortly thereafter. Again it was treated, but after a year of improvements he relapsed once more and had a stem cell transplant in 2008. He walks and talks with the swagger of a person whose knowledge is beyond their age.
Aries, and his mother Nicole, were selected to go on a dream vacation by the Non-profit group Dream Flite. They offer free flights to Disney to deserving kids and their parents that otherwise would never be able to go.

I met them at their house as they packed a few days before they left. After the Stem Cell transplant Aries got Gaft verse Host disease or GVHD. Basically the good new transplanted cells react with the old cells resulting in the skin defects. "It was so bad right after he had the surgery that he looked like a burn victim," his Aunt said.

On Wednesday we met at their house early in the morning so I could get then as they left and them I followed them to the airport.

Aries was glued to his mother the entire morning. Partly because it was still 5:30 am, but I had forgotten for a minute how old this child was and it was the only glimpse I had of him actually being a five year old.

To see the story and the rest of the photos check out the link HERE.


Mish Mosh

A couple random photos from these few weeks past.

I nearly caused a pileup as I slammed on the brakes after seeing this guy. "It hurts my back so I have to stretch." he said. 8 hours a day this man stands next to one of the busiest roads around holding his cash for gold sign. Rain or Shine.

One of my summer resolutions is to fish more this summer. That means more trips to the lake Pop. I hope your ready!
I was bored one night and looking through some old slides. This one struck my fancy and for some odd reason I decided to shoot the slide with my camera phone. Kind of a best quality meets worst quality situation. Well, this is how it turned out...
It takes a man to wear a hat like that. You go kid.
And we'll end on a happy note with some buildings from down in St. Louis shot while cruising before dinner.


Hapiness is...

a yellow and black sign by the road...
Good light and an open road...

Tiny cameras for tiny people...

A super sweet wall decoration...

The needle in a haystack.


IPPA weekend

Last weekend was the Illinois Press Photographer Associations annual Convention. This year's was in St. Louis (Don't ask).
Jordan and I made the trek down to check out the yearly contest judging and speakers from papers and schools around the country.
One of the speakers I was more excited to see was freshly minted Western Kentucky University teacher Josh Meltzer. Click his name and be ready to see some photographic greatness.
Had I still been there, Mr. Meltzer would be my teacher right now so it was great to see him and get a chance to talk about photography and all I am missing at WKUPJ.

Speaker/Conference room.

As mentioned numerous other times on this blog, the great Mr. Beck Diefenbach hard at work as the new IPPA web and multimedia mad man.

A few random snaps between speakers on Saturday.

The weekend was made all the sweeter when I found out that I had won Illinois Student Photographer of the year.
I love entering contests and especially love watching the judging. I believe that watching judges bicker about photos is one of the best ways to learn to shoot and edit your own photos. It breaks your heart to see a photo you labored to get and tediously toned get mercilessly passed on by objective judges.
Anyway, Jordan and I walked in right as they were down to the last few student portfolios. We sat down, looked up and I instantly recognized the photos on the screen. Jordan's arm may be black and blue from "gentle" nudges I gave her signaling (as if she hadn't seen the photos hundreds of times) that it was my portfolio that was getting ripped to shreds.
One got knocked out and it was down to mine and one other. After some short debate it was settled and the moderator restated that this was the winning portfolio.
It took all I had not to jump out of my seat and scream like a little girl, but I could not believe it. After what seemed like an hour (actual time 5 minutes) everyone reconvened and looked at the winners in all the singles categories and then finally the portfolios, which confirmed that I had won.

Big Congrats also to Will Deshazer (also a Western grad) for winning Illinois Photographer of the Year. I would highly recommend checking out his work HERE.


Shabbona 2.0

I have loads to post from my time spent here, so Shabbona photos will be dropping randomly from now on. Basically, whenever the "blog" folder on my desktop begins to dry up.

It was getting later in the evening and I had been shooting all day, but on my way back to camp I stumbled, literally, across a small playground. I made some frames as the sun set behind it, but my favorite is one that I shot through a clear half-dome bubbly thingy.
The new American landscape?
Looking out the door of a cabin as the sun set.


Shabbona State Park

I had what might have been the greatest assignment ever (other than shooting a White Sox World Series of course).
We did a feature about state parks in the area (awesome already), I insisted that to really get a sense of the park I should camp there. It was a (very) happy surprise when my editor came back and agreed!
I made the arrangements and spent a night in Shabbona Lake State Park about an hour west of Aurora.
The weather even cooperated and I am hoping we decided to do a follow-up story soon.


New Lens

I got a new lens today so guess who had to model.


Here's a few that have been stewing in the "to blog" folder from the past week or so.

Alumni from East Aurora High talking to students about what they have gone on to do in life.

Walkin' the dog. Not an assignment.
Possibly the lamest Tea Party rally ever. I saw it on the schedule and got excited but when I arrived it was really low key. Oh well.


Open Season

Wedding season that is. Had my first wedding of the season on Saturday and what a blast it was. The couple was great and were more than happy to entertain co-photog BRYAN KRYSZEWSKI and I's photo requests. (click his name to see more of his work)

I have been seeing a lot of really cool work done with long exposures and light painting so I thought I would give it a shot. Bryan helped out with the lighting on it and after a few test shots sans the couple, we brought them out and nailed it first go. Shocking I know.

The reception was in Downtown Naperville which was cool because I had home field advantage knowing some good spots. We hit up a park with what is a sled hill for six months of the year, but provides a great area with a clean background for the rest of the year.
I set up the bridal party while Bryan was working with the Bride and Groom. I had them walk through the shadow to get some good light on their face and right as I started shooting this kid ran by and jumped. I missed it the first time, but took off after him and made him come back and do it again.
Looking forward to an awesome season!


Cutting Education

I spent Wednesday down in the Capitol, Springfield, Ill, with a group of local residents upset about the insane budget cuts and how much they will hurt their children's schooling. It's sad, because districts are already operating on tight budgets and have had to lay off teachers. The tough part is that Illinois doesn't have a budget. Period. The districts don't know what to do because they can't make their budget when they don't know how much dough they will get from the state.

Welcome to Illinois. where we are operating in the biggest whole in the country.

Here are some that didn't run. Check out the gallery HERE for more.


Balls of Eye

From an assignment about a dentist giving away some free dental work. He was getting his wisdom teeth removed and they only half sedated him which surprised me. I remember, er... well don't remember, getting knocked out. Doctor: "Brian, I want you to say the A,B,C's for me." Me: "A, Bhhhhhhh....." out cold.


Climb Night

Went out to my friend Tim's house for a little climbing last night. And yes, all of this is in his house.


Mr. Feed and Seed

Mr. Larry Griswold has owned and operated his feed and seed shop in downtown Aurora for over 65 years. He is 91 years young now and still works there with his two sons, Steve and Tim.

The story was about the time he served in the Air force 60 years ago. He was awarded a soldiers medal to his bravery in helping to put out a fire on board of an aircraft, but 65 years later still had not received his medal. After lots of red tape and phone calls it finally came and he would will keep a willing listener there for days recounting all the tribulations of how he finally got it.
This is how the first page ran in the paper. The background is a page out of his journal chronicling every mission that he went on. "Thank god I wrote it all down," he said." I'd never remember all that stuff 65 years later."
We had been falling into running the same design template for the past weeks on the storyteller column so I made the collage in an effort to try and get out of that mold.


When good mascots go bad.

..... they eat your children.


Red Oak Wildlife Center

I have driven by this wildlife center a few times on my way to other assignments, so when I got off early one day I decided to stop in.

The center itself was closed, but they leave the trails open. Still being early April and all, everything looks kinda dead as life has yet to bloom in the new year. It was fun anyway though, nice day, nice light, and nowhere to be. Can't complain.


Wedding Shootout

Modern Image Studios hosted a night photo workshop with two fantastic couples who put up with some cold, wind and rain to get blasted with way to many flashes.
It was very cool to see how some other shooters approached their shoot and how their images came out.
Check out MIS photographer Wes Craft's facebook page HERE to see his images from the night and some other really nice wedding work.
Never one to love flash, I couldn't help but try and find some cool ambient light.

I was actually on the hunt for my next shot when I looked over and saw Wes was setting up some portraits of this couple. With a few 2 second exposures I stole his flash for a few. Thanks Wes!

We were 4 stories up and had a nice view over the river. Here is the great Mr. Jeff Owen taking advantage of the terrific viewpoint.

I had an idea to play with the shadows running up the ramp of the parking garage. The couple I was working with were great as I tried to maneuver them around from a story above. Not sure if it ever really worked, but I think they came out ok. You?

Big thanks to Michael Litchfield for maning the light on those last two. Saved me a whole lot of running. Click on his name to check out his website.