Posts Tagged ‘surreality’




Nevada Portraits




Laughing Yoga


This is Jeremy Chapman, laughing yoga instructor, and head of the Chicago Laughmore Club (I think that’s the name, but as with all organizations like this, it’s a little loose and hard to get a handle on some basics.) They meet every once and a while, and laugh. No purpose, no point, except the physical, mental and emotional health benefits of laughter. Yes, I’m going to go back and just do this instead of covering hopefully in the future.


Special thanks to my cuz Jackie who spotted this one while she was visiting Chicago. I, alas, totally walked by it without even noting it. I’ve become too hardened to seeing the strange of this universe.

Just Checking Another Item Off the List


This quote is from the coordinator of an event I’m trying to cover this weekend. He is giving me advice on how to successfully cover the event and do so in a way respectful to those participating.

“wear few if any clothes (seriously)”

Now…I don’t know what to say here. Someday I’m going to have seen it all, done it all. Being asked to strip for work, that’s a new one for me. And not all that nice to those around me (time to take on those body image issues). Do what you got to do I guess.

Anyone know where to get some Marvin the Martian boxer briefs in Chicago? And a fedora? Seriously.

Because I Can, XXI



Long Live the Simple Joy of the Company of Good People


I have a long rant on my company’s piss poor communication skills. I don’t have time to write it right now as I have to be able way early to drive a long way. Plus I just don’t feel like focusing on it. I want to enjoy life, be happy. Instead…

I got to hang with 75 people of all ages today who gathered outside the Art Institute to have a pillow fight.

You know what, it’s not your job that’s important, it’s not some item or such, it’s the simple company of good, happy people. We are, ultimately, almost all of us, that, good happy people. We just forget. Take pleasure in the company of those around you, don’t worry about what they think of you, hint, they think you’re good, you’re cool. (FYI – if I know you, I do as well. You are worth a lot to me, even if it’s been too long. That reminds me, gotta call Becky.) Enjoy it, do something simple, have some fun, but most of all, be happy.

And if you’re totally lost, smack em’ with a pillow. You know you wanta.

It’s going to be weeks before I get all the feathers out of my clothing.

That makes me smile.

Just Not Right


I would love to provide a full context for this photo, but I feel that the need to protect the people involved is more important, and there is no way I would type such a story onto the internet. (you know it’s good when I won’t discuss it.)

The vague story is that the woman was a judge for the Chiditarod, an urban Iditarod/shopping cart race/bar crawl. She was willing to let this gentleman, who wanted to win, leave early if he bribed this judge with what she wanted. What she wanted was not to be repeated in writing. Suffice it to say, it’s one of those moments in life where a man must decide between what he wants, wants so bad he can taste it, and what is right. It’s watching the moral soul of a man crack.

I love those moments in life.

If you want to know more, you have to ask me in person. It’s a great story, everyone laughs, everyone loves the story, and that makes it even more disturbing.

It’s all so Zen


I’m going to start with some tangents then get to the point, as much as I ever have one, a few paragraphs on. The imagery is from polar bearing, the Chinese New Year’s Parade, a Snow Skate event (think SSX Tricky, and the only story assigned by the office, for you PJs), Information Superhighway’s performance, and The Afterlife’s performance. All the photos are from Friday night through Sunday night, and if still got leftovers for future posts. Ha!

There is just way too much to talk about from the past few days. Busy, busy beyond all recognition. Last night I got to turn the TV on for the evening news, tonight I watched my taped episode of Coupling (btw-I started watching this program a few months back, and it just kicks ass. Hilarious. Plus that whacky British humor kick. It’s on PBS.) That hour of TV has been all my free time for the last 5 days, and I hope it never ends.

It’s been nothing but edit, shoot, drive and talk about imagery with amazing photogs. Life is nothing short of grand. (I should note here, that I feel a little bad saying that as numerous of my friends have had really bad things happen to them this last week. And while I may be having a great week, that they are all in my thoughts and heart. If any of you need a hand, and I’ve said this to many of you already, let me know, I’m here and it would be my honor to make your life a little better.) Thursday a friend went out of her way to set-up some free tickets to a show for me. Totally unasked for, so kind, and wow, talk about setting a great tone for the weekend.

Friday after hanging with some friends, and running into a cool new friend totally at random, I got to see my favorite singer, the incredible Leslie Beukelman. (And if you’re cool, and I know you are, you want to see Leslie perform with my favorite tap dancers, Chicago Tap Theatre, in what will surely be an awesome performance, Mixology. Buy tickets now, it sells out, every show last year. Guys, you will impress your gals, with your class and taste, trust me.)

Saturday I got go Polar Bearing (I will go into depth on this in a bit, it’s the zen of it all.) And that night hang with some of Chicago’s, and the country’s premiere photographers. (Don’t believe me? Go here. Some of the presenters, showing the best in unused political photography coming out of the primaries. It makes me sad for newspapers that this doesn’t get used, but I’m not surprised either.)

Sunday was the Chinese New Year’s Parade, which was just all kinds of cold. Sunday night (Fri and Sun were both at Silvie’s strangely enough and Sat was at a house two blocks away, weird) I got to see one of my favorite theater groups turn band, The Afterlife. Whacky fun. I like theater people, I tend to get them, usually because they’re insane, so we have something in common. Plus I got to finally meet a friend (this whole Facebook/MySpace/Blog (FMB) world is weird. People I’ve never met know me, and I know them. Well at least this weekend I got to meet both of my FMB friends who I had never actually met.) who I’ve been having some pretty kickass conversations with.

Damn, I mean, damn, can life be better? Oh yeah, to top it off, I was on fire. I was like a drunken teenager in a car on a Saturday night in nowhere Texas with a baseball bat and nothing but mailboxes in front of him. Just hitting everything, everywhere. Not perfect, but solid hits all around.

Alright, too the much delayed point……Zen.

My mid-day Saturday shoot, or one of them was the Lakeview Polar Bear Club’s 7th Annual Celebration of Shrinkage. For those who don’t know, Polar Bearing is basically jumping in a cold, or in this case, literally freezing, lake, for…fun? I’ve wanted to do this for years and because of recent acquasitions by our company, was able to self-assign it for work. All the time I had for prep work basically consisted of calling Brian and getting some tips; sandals so submerged ice cuts your feet less often, a nice robe so you can quickly disrobe and re-robe, things like that.

I knew there were going to be a multitude of technical issues going in. Not that cameras don’t like either the cold or water. Who would’ve thunk it? Plus an event I have a minimal understanding of and have to cover with a minimum of equipment, again, due to the whole “water problem”. I made sure my camera was set-up before hand to be as quick and responsive as possible, basically, all manual. As old Leica ads used to say, “A camera that doesn’t get in the way of taking the picture.” Plus it was going to be quick, maybe a minute, maybe less I had been warned and the people I really wanted, the newbies screaming, probably meant a 15 second window for what I needed. This was going to come down to one, maybe two chances and that was it. Plus there were going to be a host of safety issues, as I would be in literally freezing water. Dead photographers don’t make good photos, basic rule. Basically I knew it would be great. I love intensity. It’s passionate. Yeah, baby.

So I get changed, btw-you know you’re in trouble when you are taking your clothes off on a beach, in the snow, and when you pull your long underwear off, and you have swim trunks underneath, so I get changed, get some “before” shots. Whatever. I end up standing around for a few minutes in my hat, sandals and swim trunks. You’d think this would be really damn cold, it was in the mid-20s after all, but I really wasn’t. This was kind of the theme for the day.

I set-up to be able to enter the water about 5 seconds ahead of the pack. I wanted to be able to get people if it was shocking right as they entered the water, and as I wasn’t wearing a wet suit, it needed to be as little lead time as I could get away with. Safety was a constant in this plan. I entered the water well everyone else was still about 30 feet away, so the first few seconds I got to be in the water without having to, being able to focus on shooting. This is, actually, a bad thing. See I got to feel my feet lose feeling, in what I would estimate to have been 1 to 2 seconds. But once everyone else started hitting the water, it was totally different.

When I shoot, not always, but when I’m there, when I’m in the zone, I’m there, totally in the moment, totally aware of my surrondings, totally aware of what is occurring and totally focused on what I’m doing, on the image I’m making. I think, but more than that, I react, I follow instinct and training, years of training. It’s a hard to describe combination of being in the scene, feeling the scene and floating above it all. I believe as a journalist I have to report what is there, but to capture the emotion, I have to be open to the emotion, and sometimes, feeling the emotion. I have to let that feeling, in this case, damn cold, into me, but flow through me. It has to flow through because well I need to feel it to use it to guide my imagery, my creation process, I can’t get overwhelmed by it. Sometimes I do get overwhelmed by it, and that’s hard on many levels for me, but as much as possible I need to not let it stop me from doing what I need to do.

So once all the participants got in the water it was all shooting. Turn here, look for this shot, turn there, try to get that shot. I don’t remember my legs being cold, but they could’ve just been numb at that point. And while I remember my feet being cold initially, there is something shocking I don’t remember. I didn’t go that far out, that deep, but I got above my waist in the water, I know this because my trunks were soaked when I got out of the water. Not to be blunt, and while the ladies will understand this, the men will truly get this, I don’t remember the boys hitting the water. Maybe they went numb to quick, whatever, but this is one of those moments you expect to hit you, like that drunk teenager earlier, except this time I’d be, or my boys more accurately, would be the mailbox. As a guy, any water below a nice warm bath tub, or a jacuzzi, ahhh jacuzzi, is a memorable experience and not in a good way typically. This one, which may have been the worst ever for me, I didn’t even notice. I was too focused on getting my shots, on what was around me.

It just amazes me how focused the mind can be, how it can allow all the necessary information in and discard everything else, regardless of how…profound, it may be. I ended up being in the water for about a minute and seven seconds (I’m taking that time from the time stamps on the images.) I left, I think I left, when I felt that I was starting to enter a time frame where safety issues might start to appear. Plus most everyone had come in and gotten out, so my shots had moved to people getting dressed and such and were no longer in the water. I didn’t think about it much, I just knew that’s where I needed to be, and moved to be there.

I spent the next 30 minutes, maybe more, in my wet trunks, my sandals, with wool socks on now to keep my feet warm (if my feet are warm, I’m warm), my winter hat, and my awesome royal blue heavy cotton robe. I wasn’t cold at all. I shot people getting warm, drinking hot chocolate, doing all the “after” things you would expect. Plus I ran into one our freelance photographers and we chatted for about 10, 15 minutes. The photo community is small, it’s always good to get to know people, and help them when you can, because someday, you’ll probably need it in return.

But my favorite point in shooting, the experience I live most for, is not when I see that final image. It’s for the moment shutter is open, it’s when everything is around me, I know what’s happening on all sides, and the shutter is open, making that image. For that split second an exposure is being made. That is my moment in life. That is the moment I live for. Not all photography is like that, a village council meeting? Who cares, it’s got to be done, but I’m not into it. Those intense, beautiful instants, when it’s all about feeling, instinct, passion, and the moment, that beautiful moment, is like nothing else. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to that Zen mediation feeling of being totally empty, without thought. Luckily for me, I get it regularly, or fairly regularly, and nothing can replace it.

Can life get better? And if so, can my heart handle it?

48 Inspiring Hours


I’m an introvert, and a pretty strong one. I generally dislike people. On the other hand the only thing in this world that holds my interest with any regularity is people. The last two days though have reminded me why I love humanity, even on those days I don’t, and that ain’t today. Today is glowing with love.

First wonderful person. Liala Kuchma, she is one of ten Chicago artists in Chicago’s Artists Month Celebration. Okay, neat. It was when she was talking about her weaving at the loom, how she does it for 12 hours a day, sometimes more, because she loves it, when she talked about the choice and which would make her happier, weaving or going out for dinner with friends, and how most of the time more weaving would make her happier, it was when she talked about what she did and you could feel the passion, I could feel the passion, the love, that I just felt…good. It’s one of those, “there is someone else out there who feels it too,” moments. I don’t get many of those.

Many people love something, whatever it is, and that is wonderful, but it is tempered, and wisely so, I’d argue. I’m not wise. I am passionate. Not about many things, but I am about a few, and those areas of my life, I love them. I can feel it, sometimes I can feel it want to rush out. I love it, and I wouldn’t stop it. I’m also well aware that it can be very harmful to me in other areas of my life. C’est la vie. (I love that phrase.)

It’s rare I get to meet a person so devoted to their art. I like those people. Maybe they just make me feel less alone, in a way that being with people can never make me feel not alone.

The second cool person was Ryan. Ryan I don’t think knows quite how cool he is yet. That’s fine, a little sad, but we all have to learn. Ryan was just a joy to talk to. He was discovering the joy of passion, of creating, of, of I don’t know what. But he was discovering. He had that sound, that look of young love. I love young love, that falling in love. Mature, caring, healthy love has it’s place in the world (though whether I can make this argument from experience is an interesting question these days) but young love, whether youthful in years, or new to us today, is wonderful, powerful. When the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, and you just don’t know any better, but it’s wonderful. I don’t know if he’ll get through the hard stuff. He’s already gone through quite a bit personally, and has more to face, and he has my admiration and respect for it, but there is more ahead, and I wish him the best in it. I don’t know how he’ll do, but I love that he is in love, and I hope he can enjoy that. And through his love of love, he’s reminded me of how much I love it too. And for that, I owe him a thanks, and I only hope I was able to give him a tenth as much as he gave me.

It didn’t hurt that he and his friends all thought I was cool, had a cool job and reminded how lucky I am in life. Sometimes it just feels really good to remember, to be grateful, for all you’ve had the luck to be given in life.

As a side note, I meet Ryan at Guess Hookah. Cool place. Bummer I’m apparently about a decade older than their average clientèle, I’d think about hanging there every now and again. Nice laid back atmospheres, a nice change of pace for me. Sometimes I wish I didn’t find stress and chaos so damn fun. It actually made me kinda want to try a hookah, alas, my brain won, and I didn’t. Apparently 85% of people who go there and use the hookahs don’t smoke cigarettes, who would’ve thunk it? Not to mention, if you’re twenty, reading this and male or lesbian, beautiful women galore, I mean….wow. Okay, that was unprofessional of me.

And just to add to the surreality of today. Other than hookah cafes I was covering a gentleman, nice guy, Darrin Hallowell, who does sculpture incorporating his own blood. Pretty interesting stuff, interesting ideas, and enjoyable to talk to.

I wish more Tuesdays could just be artists doing something odd and hookahs. That really is what Tuesday is supposed to be.

As a side note, I don’t know why it seems everything I’ve shot is moving left, but….oops, my poor graphic designers.

And on a final pointless note, white teas, can’t get into them. Just can’t. I’m about the Oolongs.

Lost and Confused, or Break Time


Some days I’m not sure if the universe is trying to tell me something, or if it’s just trying to screw with my head. I don’t know.

It’s really rather annoying, and maybe fun, but definitely more annoying.

I want a break from reality, from constant overwhelming quantities of work and personal confusion. (I always thought life would be clearer when I “grew-up.” I don’t think we ever grow up anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like an adult.)

And the really funny thing, I know in a few days it will all change. And for no particular purpose, with no rhyme and certainly no reason, but it will change. It will be by some random, wonderful event, it always is.

Such is the joy and torment of life.

Election Night in Chicago

Former Alderman Wallace with Alderman-elect Fioretti

Vote early, vote often. A great saying, made in Chicago because that’s what used to happen. Even in my suburb of Forest Park the election judges, jokingly mind you, asked me if I wanted the ballot of a dead person along with my own. Classic Chicago humor.

So near the end of my very long day, I had been covering election related events since 7am, I was trying to take photos of a new alderman-elect. I showed up at his party as he was walking out the door, literally. I asked him, Bob Fioretti, where he was off to next, he told me “Wallace’s” a retraunat on Madison and California. A bit out of our coverage area, but it’s what I got to work with, so I work with it.

Turns out Wallace’s is a real hoot. I love anyplace where people are genuinely happy and having fun. So I’m watching the band play, the Alderman-elect is having fun, being forced to sing and dance a little, but generally enjoying the moment. Eventually he gets pulled into watching the guitar player play the guitar with his tongue (and the song was even played pretty well still). How can you pass that up?

So I get a photo of Wallace, former Alderman Wallace actually, behind Fioretti watching the guitar player and the singer play the guitar with there tongues. Okay, pretty weird to start with. Now, go back to the office and find out that former Alderman Wallace, is actually disgraced former Alderman Wallace, something to do with corruption charges I think.

So now the picture is of two people playing guitar with their tongues, the Alderman-elect watching with the disgraced former Alderman behind him. That’s Chicago.

Blessing of the Clowns


Heads up to anyone reading this regularly (I know there are a very few of you) I haven’t been updating lately, and it will be a few weeks before I probably start again. I’ve been absorbed with updating my website. It’s getting close, but I’ve still got a lot of finishing touches to take care of. You may want to head over there and take a look.

This is just a quick pair of images from the Blessing of the Clowns. I know people talk about how something was “like in the movies,” but personally, I think the movies lack an understanding of the surreality of daily life.

Before the clowns started performing while the Reverend was talking, I had a clown telling me masturbation and incest jokes in the back of the church. Yep, during church service I was being told dirty jokes by a clown in the back of a church. If you put that in a movie they include drugs to make it “believable,” when in reality this stuff just happens.

Sometimes in life it’s best just to accept the strangeness of life and move on. Anymore will just screw with your world view too much.