Month: July 2012

The Beauty of Dance and Moving On.

Dancers in the Academy for the Performing Arts perform during the spring show. May 25th, 2012

As a recent graduate of high school, I can say that I won’t miss the cliques, the “busy work”, the cafeteria, or the noisy hallways.  I can, however, promise you that I will miss photographing events in high school, especially within our Academy for the Performing Arts. I don’t believe I will ever find such freedom in another venue. On any given show, I was usually allowed backstage, in the front row, in the balcony, in the wings, or pretty much anywhere else I could stand and shoot or rig a camera. Everyone was incredibly supportive of me and my work and I know that they will continue to be throughout my career.

My favorite thing to photograph was the dance shows. I was always willing to shoot dance even when I was exhausted or hungry. It

Dancers in the Academy for the Performing Arts perform in the spring show on May 25, 2012.

didn’t matter how long it was or how much traffic I would have to sit in afterward, it was always a good time.


In retrospect, I should have used the space more to my advantage. Many of my images are shot from the center of the first row or the balcony. Perhaps in the future, I’ll get to wait in the wings for an interesting shot, or abandon the show completely and focus on the dancers and their emotions outside of their performances.


The kind of freedom I found in that theatre was almost addicting. I could walk in with a camera during any bad mood and walk out feeling a sort of peace. I know that I will always chase that calm. I’ll always remember the friends dancing in my favorite images. I’ll remember how much the dancers appreciated my work. I’ll remember the dance director letting me know how much she appreciated me while I was there.  It will always hold a very special place in my heart, wherever my career may lead me.

I truly hope that I can someday give back to the program that allowed me to grow as an artist. I know that that the Academy will continue to grow and I am so lucky to have been a part of it from the very, very beginning.

Here’s to high school. Here’s to moving on to bigger things.

I slowed the shutter on these performers in the Academy’s spring show on May 25, 2012.



Chicago Adventure

Lightning strikes the Chicago Skyline, Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I’ve always been a huge fan of thunderstorms and the downpour last night in my part of town was rather exciting. Booming thunder, lightning that made our whole street glow, and rain enough to flood the backyard characterized the storm. I love shooting lightning and Navy Pier offered a great vantage point. I was hoping to make a cool image of the twice-weekly summer fireworks as well as the people gathered to take them in.  I was also hoping to catch lightning against the Chicago Skyline.  I was not disappointed.

Lightning hits behind a condo building on the Chicago Skyline. July 18th, 2012

I got to the end of the pier about ten minutes before the start of the show. I managed to set up my tripod and dig my cable release out of my bag in high winds. HIGH WINDS. It was almost enough to blow me over and definitely enough to knock my tripod over. Needless to say, the fireworks were a challenge in the wind and rain. The show ended, so I turned my focus to the lightning that was building over the skyline.  Shooting lightning is a game of waiting. Waiting for a good storm.  Getting to a location and waiting for bolts to strike and hoping they’re where you want them.  I’ve been pretty fortunate in my attempts at shooting storms. I’m pretty sure that I’ve come away with an image every time I’ve tried to shoot.

Visitors to the Navy Pier watch fireworks in Chicago, Illinois, July 18th, 2012. Firework shows occur biweekly for the duration of the summer.

Creating images with lightning is exhilarating and exciting. It’s worth standing out in the rain, nearly getting pushed over by wind, or almost getting hit with flying Navy Pier garbage. I get as excited shooting from within the storm in Chicago as I do creating a makeshift tripod out of books and shooting out of my window. It’s always different. Always interesting. It’s something I know I’ll want to do long after I’ve mastered it.

I played with pulling focus to create this image.

I shot this photo a few months ago from Whihala Beach. It was the first time I shot a storm with a tripod and cable release.

This was the photo I shot from my bedroom window with the help of a makeshift tripod of books.

Photography, Pyrotechnics, and the Importance of Learning.

The sun sets in Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, July 4th, 2012.

What I love most about photography is that there is always something to learn, something to try, or ways to gain a new perspective on something you’ve shot hundreds of times. It is extremely comforting to review images that I shot two, three, four years ago and see how much my work has changed. There are even photos from this time last year that are much different from what I’ve shot this summer. One of my biggest learning experiences has included the Chicago skyline and fireworks. Naturally, I decided to head down to Navy Pier on Independence Day to use my skills on shooting these subjects.

A sail boat flies a large American Flag near the Chicago Lighthouse (left) in Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, July 4th, 2012.

While waiting for the fireworks to begin, I had plenty of time to shoot the skyline and the harbor.  I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down by the Adler Planetarium admiring the skyline. Sometimes I’d be carrying a camera phone, occasionally a point and shoot, and  most recently a Canon DSLR. I’d click the shutter, hope for the best and move on to the next thing. I never really used patience in my work. Up until recently, I didn’t fully understand the importance of waiting and being patient. I think the above image of the skyline showcases this change in my work big time. I couldn’t have placed that seagull in the left. There was no way I could have moved the boat. I just had to wait for the scene to match my vision.  I think it makes the image much more interesting.

The sun dips below the horizon. Cue fireworks. I remember very clearly my days of hand holding a point and shoot, waiting until JUST the right moment, hitting the shutter and…. discovering yet another strange, unidentifiable blob on my screen. Fast forward to July 2012. I’ve got my tripod and my cable release. Shooting fireworks has gone from frustrating to fun! I’ve learned the importance of framing the fireworks with another strong element, and how to dial in for the bursts. Photography is about reading and learning. About not being afraid to ask questions and be given answers you feel YOU should have thought of. I’ve heard it said that you’re only a “beginner” once and that you should use it to your fullest advantage. That is exactly what I’m doing and I could not be happier with my progress thus far. I hope to come a long way from where I am now and never stop honing my skills.

Fireworks burst above Chicago’s Navy Pier, Wednesday, July 4th, 2012.