Photo of the Day: Winnetka cafe

I was recently hired by a local bank to capture some artistic photos of the sedate leafy suburb of Winnetka. There were lots of photos of quaint shops, half-timber ersatz English facades, and assorted architectural details, but this photo of a cafe window was my favorite.  I like the colors, the many depths of activity, and the cacophony of shapes.

Cafe window in Winnetka

Photo of the Day: Skyline from the lake

Last weekend was incredibly clear, puffy white clouds filled the sky–basically a perfect day for photos.  The city never looked better.  It took me almost an hour to swim out to this spot, plus it was incredibly difficult to keep the water off my lens.  The things I do for my art.

Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan

 

Photo of the Day: The Rookery Staircase

Today is the first day of what I hope will become a regular daily feature.  I want to post a photo on my blog every day; I realize this is a big step, a big responsibility, a venture into the unknown.  But as the Zen Master says, “a journey of a 1000 miles begins with one step”…I think he really meant one photo.  So here goes….

This is the staircase at the Rookery Building, designed by Burnham and Root. This is one of my favorite buildings in Chicago, unfortunately access is restricted, so I haven’t been able to shoot there in decades.  Luckily I had an assignment in the building last week and updated my collection of Rookery photos.

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Chicago Presidential Suites

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Last week when the NATO summit was in town, our city played host to thousands of international visitors, and a couple dozen world leaders.  Where do these presidents, prime ministers and brutal dictators stay when they are here in Chicago? Surely not at the Days Inn or the Holiday Inn Express.  More than likely, they occupied the many uber-elegant Presidential Suites that are downtown.  I had the wonderful privilege to photograph several of them for Elite Traveler magazine. After shooting this assignment, I know that I will never be satisfied with any hotel room again…but then I rarely pay $4000 to 5000 per night for a room.  No, that isn’t a misprint.  Politicians, rock stars, Wall Street bankers, and world leaders are about the only people who can afford this luxury.  Here is a glimpse into that rarefied world that most of us will never be privy to.

CHICAGO AFTER DARK

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When the sun goes down, the colors come alive. Anyone who has done nighttime photography will attest to the amazing colors and wowie zowie effects that can mysteriously appear; invariably, the colors are better and more intense than what you see with the naked eye. Of course a tripod is essential unless you are going for some wacky motion effects or doing flash photography. Here is an assortment of photos I took in Chicago at night–if I wasn’t such a “morning person” I would be doing this more often.

Dominick’s Next Chef

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Dominick’s parent company Safeway was on the hunt for a new corporate chef.  Rather than going through normal channels, they held a Facebook-based search which culminated in chef competitions in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago.  I photographed the Chicago cook-off at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school; the competition was fierce, the aromas were enticing, and the final creations were delicious.  The winning chef is headed for SF to compete against the other two finalists, and the top chef will be awarded with a job at Safeway’s corporate kitchens.

 

TUPPERWARE ANNUAL REPORT 2002

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Exactly ten years ago I had the privilege of being hired to photograph the Tupperware Annual Report; this assignment took me around the world, visiting nine countries in 19 days.  Yeah, that sounds ridiculously hectic now, but at the time, it really didn’t seem that bad–it was almost like time slowed down as I tried to absorb the incredible mix of cultures.  The Dundee-based design firm SamataMason (now Smbolic) sent me to Mexico City, NYC, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Manila, and Tokyo to gather images illustrating the marketing efforts of Tupperware.  Traveling in those months immediately after 9/11 was a little tense, but everything went without a hitch. The only regrets: I wish the trip lasted longer, and I wish I had been shooting digital back then.

 

DRIBBLE, JUMP, SHOOT

And here are the numbers: three days, nine games, one winner, 1200 photos. Boy is my finger sore, I think I need to ice it now that the games are over. Last weekend I covered the Great West Basketball Tournament and I watched more b-ball than I’ve seen in a several years. I’m proud to say I saw a lot of good “D”, some awesome pick and rolls, some impossible three pointers, and some dunks you don’t even see at the county fair. But being “up close and personal” is a whole new experience, and I gave it a 110% effort. I was hoping to get some good photos, but as they say, it ain’t over till it’s over, and the fat lady just sang, so here are some of my favorite shots. I told my boss that I came to play, I put my game face on, and gave it my all.  At this point, all I can say is, “wait till next year.” If there are any sports clichés I’ve missed, chalk it up to experience, and I’ll be back.

Pushing is allowed only on 'bad hair days' What's with the basketball, I thought this was yoga class?Why don't they put a handle on these balls?       OMG, are cheerleaders allowed to do THAT??Uh oh, should have used my GPS....going the wrong way  Blocking the dribblers leg with your groin is very effective defense What's the call, ref, jump ball? Mama said there'd be days like this New hybrid sport: Full Contact WrestleBall  It's my ball and you can't play CAT FIGHT !!!!Sorry, but I get emotional at basketball games

College Track & Field Meet

High jumpHigh jumpLong Jump Long Jump Long Jump Long Jump Pole Vault Pole Vault Pole Vault Womens hurdlesWomens 400 metersMens sprint Women's mileMens hurdlesWomens relayWomen's Shot PutWomen's Shot Put
At the end of February I shot a two-day track & field meet in Sterling IL for the Great West Conference.  That is a bit of a misnomer, as there are teams in this conference from Washington State, Utah, Texas, Chicago, and New Jersey.  I have shot professional and college sports on occasion–it is certainly not a specialty–but there is nothing better than learning on the job.  The low level of the indoor lighting presented a considerable challenge and I envied those sports photographers who have the luxury of shooting outdoors.  In spite of this challenge, I was able to capture numerous images that illustrated “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”  Later this month I progress to a basketball championship at Chicago State University, and, with luck, the next stop will be London and the Olympics.

 

Chicago’s Union Station

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One of the most incredible interior spaces in Chicago is rarely seen, unless you are a commuter or Amtrak loyalist.  And even then, most people rushing to or from their train have little time to stop and admire the breathtaking architecture surrounding them.  Union Station was completed in 1925 by the architectural firm of  Graham, Anderson and Probst, though Daniel Burnham drew up the original plans; he died before his plan could be realized.  The 110’ high, block-long Great Hall is a vast space defined by it’s barrel-vaulted ceiling and rows of Corinthian columns (not related to the Corinthian leather in your dad’s Chrysler).  As many as 100,000 passed through Union Station back in its heydey in the 1940s, though today it’s a small fraction of that number.  Next time you are in the west Loop, grab a sandwich and have lunch sitting on the benches in the Great Hall and just admire how grand architecture can inspire the soul–or at least make for an enjoyable lunch.