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.



  1. I am so unbelievably proud of you. It has nothing to do with the fact that you’re a friend of mine. All the hard work, all the dedication, the drive to do bigger and better things, going from an idea for a photo to this amazing blog and your own photography page. You’re following through with your dreams like some people have done and many wish they had. I love your work and it touches and inspires me to follow my own dreams. It’s not because I love you that I love your work. I pay closer attention because it’s your work, but it seriously is incredible..magical.
    Congratulations on following your dreams.

  2. Well done Taylor – great shots and some very laudable comments in your blog. I am sure you will go far and I wish you every success. Having been a photographer for the last 35 years, I can tell you, that you never stop learning, that there are still some moments of pure frustration and some great highs when a plan comes together.
    We are so lucky these days – it is now far easier to look and learn from other peoples work and ideas. There are so many photographers out there doing such great work which can inspire us all.
    Keep shooting – all the best

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