April 27, 2010

Misty Water Colored

I've been a little sad this week. A lot of that sadness is tied to my man being on a California vacation while I'm sitting at home in cold spring weather, going to work and caring for our ungrateful cats. But besides being jealous of Mike's trip, Mike absence always makes me realize something: I just don't know that many people living in Chicago any more.

Whenever Mike leaves, I always ask myself crazy and unrealistic questions like if my house were to burn down who would I stay with? If one of the cats ran away and I needed help finding them, who could I call? If I needed bail money, whose number would I have memorized? Just kidding about that last one. It would totally be my mom, sister or friend Jenny's parents, as theirs are the only numbers I still remember. But Mike leaving does always trigger the question of how big is my safety net? Mike's my emergency person, so when he leaves I always start to wonder who my back up emergency people are. The sad truth is over the past few years I feel my net has steadily shunk.

When I first moved to the city almost six years ago, I had an instant network of friends. I moved here with a friend from college, who knew two other girls from grad school moving here at the same time. And they all already knew people living in the city. So bam! My first day here, I had people to hang out with. And not just any old people. These were strong, fun, educated, dynamic and interesting women who have turned into bona fide friends of mine.

As the years went on however, each of these amazing women left the city for different reasons - family, jobs, world travel, boyfriends. Some even left, returned to the city and then left again. It's meant I've attended a lot of going away parties in Chicago. More than I have cared to. Upon further reflection, I might just be able to make the statement that I now know more people who've left the city than I know presently living here. I'll never really know for certain though. That's not a fact I want to prove. My most recent good bye was the past Sunday. I saw off two friends who I met here more than five years ago. They packed up their home and are heading west to pursue some big dreams. I'm incredibly excited for them, but also sad because it's two more people who I can add to the "Friends Who Have Left Chicago" roster.

I remember that my second semester of college started off kind of rough. I had just returned to school having surrounded myself during Christmas break with my family and good friends back at home. Upon my return to dorm life, I looked around only to realize the deficit of friends I had on campus. I became incredibly melancholy thinking that if I up and vanished I'd be lucky if my roommates even noticed. I just didn't see any point in staying because I had no one who seemed to value my existence. I went so far as to journal a list of my friends on campus. It was an exercise that seems silly in retrospect, but at the time it really did help me to see that my list was really a list of budding friendships. And even though I didn't have the strong bonds at that time with people at school like I did at home, it didn't mean those bonds weren't beginning. I'm happy to say some of the people on that list have become bona fide friends of mine, people whom today I admire, trust and love with all my heart.

Now I'm not as overly dramatic as I was in college. I don't plan to start listing my Chicago friends in order to reassure myself that they do exist. I know they do. I'm going out to lunch with two of them on Thursday. But what I will say is there are days that I really long for those beginning weeks and months of my time in Chicago. The times where girls' night happened more often than not. The days were I lead a book club because I knew enough people to participate in a book club. I cherish the memories I have of all my wild and crazy nights with the girls, of those chatty morning brunches and of those heart to heart talks about where we were, where we'd been and where we'd like to go. I love each and every one of those memories. I just really wish they weren't so distant.

April 24, 2010

Kiddos, Part 2

This was the second shoot of my double shoot weekend. And what a difference a day made. While I was contending with a harsh midday sun on Saturday, Sunday was a photographic dream. It was overcast but with this beautiful, soft light. It worked wonders on my subjects, not that they needed much help.

I really love this session. I'll let their photos do the rest of the talking.

So long Addison. Hope to see you again soon.

In other photo news, I got a new camera!! Well I don't physically have it in my eager hands yet, but I really hope I will by the end of the week. It's fancy, and while not technically a professional grade camera, any upgraded camera I get after this will be. It's that good. I have never been so excited to receive something in the mail.

April 22, 2010

Kiddos, Part 1

Two weeks ago, I had two photo shoots in a row - one on Saturday and one on Sunday. That's the first time I've ever dealt with this type of a schedule. I probably could have spread them out but part of me wanted to see if I was capable of handling back-to-back shoots.

It's two-and-a-half weeks later and both shoots are edited. One shoot's final CD will be in the mail tomorrow, and I'll finish the second one this weekend. The rewards of my hard work is that I now get to share the photos with you.

First up, Madeline.

It could not have been more excited to shoot Madeline because it was nice out and I knew we could head outdoors. But we started off inside just to all get warmed up in front of the camera.

This is Madeline.

As you can see, I got plenty of indoor shots. So then outside we went.

Now it had been months since I had an outdoor shoot, so I admit I was a bit rusty. And I made a rookie mistake. Sat my subjects down in the bright light of a midday sun with not a lick of shade in sight. This makes for really harsh shadows, so some of my shots weren't as good as I would have liked. But some shots, I still just absolutely love. Thanks goodness my subject was so cute - and came with a hat.

I should also mention, that Madeline's parents were quite the photo subjects as well.

And with that, this families' photo session was over. Our afternoon in the sun was done. But I had the next day's shoot to look forward to.

So long Madeline.

April 19, 2010

I Am Not A Poser

I was going to write about how it took me three hours to clean my kitchen yesterday. Meanwhile Mike was simultaneously cleaning our bathroom, which also took him three hours. Three hours? Seriously, our home is not palatial. It's a two bed, one bath condo for Pete's sake. We should be able to clean the entire damn thing in three hours and have time for a shower and nap afterward.

But this wasn't typical cleaning. Mike was scrubbing our shower tiles with a toothbrush. I was shining our stainless steel toaster. And the crazy thing is neither of us finished our designated task at hand either. I still need to wipe down our kitchen cabinets and neither of us got to the floors. Honestly, it's enough to make me stop and consider hiring a cleaning service to come in at least once a month. But the thought of paying someone to clean my home makes me feel incredibly lazy and spoiled. Really the only thing stopping me is the yuppie guilt.

But I'm not writing about cleaning my kitchen.... err... any more.

What I want to talk about in the five minutes I am giving myself before I must get ready for bed is photos. (Surprise!) I've been thinking a lot about this wedding I'm shooting in less than a month. Holy mother of pearl I just said less than a month.

One of the things that worries me most about this wedding is posing. I admit it's not my strong suit. I've never been in a situation where I've had to direct a wedding party of people and a very small window of time. It kind of freaks me out because I won't really know if I'm any good at it until I'm right in the thick of things. Thankfully I've been in enough weddings now to know how it works.

The thing is though, I don't really like posing people. I don't like when they feel the need to stare unflinchingly at me and my lens. I think back to those elementary school photographers who used to twist my neck into uncomfortable and unnatural positions and then snap a pic. I never felt like I looked like myself in those photos. I still don't. Most people don't. But for the sake of wedding photography, I will have to. And I want my posed photos to be somewhat interesting, so I'll be doing some serious posing research (yes, there is such a thing) leading up to the wedding.

By the way, the photo above - totally not posed. And I love it more than any other photo I've taken recently.

April 12, 2010


I got some news today that was unexpected to say the least. What was this news? That one of my photos will be published in a magazine in May.

Let me repeat this. A photo of mine. Will be in print. In a magazine. This May.


I didn't seek this out. It came to me in a very roundabout way.

I posted the photos I took of the Shamrock Shuffle on my Flickr account and tagged them as such. Someone found one my photos and asked if I might want to submit them to the Shamrock Shuffle 2010 Flickr pool they had created. So I did.

Well those photos were seen, and seen by enough people that someone recognized one of my photo subjects. And in the strangest twist of fate ever, that person happens to the subject of an article in the May issue of Competitor magazine. The reporter emailed me this afternoon to see if my photo could run with her article. It took every ounce of professional restraint in my body not to respond "HELLS YEAH!" to her request. In exchange for my photo, I get as many free copies of the magazine as I want and credit for taking the photo.

So which photo is it?

This one, which also happens to be my favorite from that day.

Remember how one of my goals for 2010 was to get my photo on the Chicago Public Radio homepage photo of the day? Well I still want to do that. But this magazine thing? This is pretty 'effing cool.

April 10, 2010

Welcome Back

The last time I went to Lake Michigan, it looked like this.

I rode my bike down to the lake shore today for the first time since that frigid January day. I like how it looked today much better.

Welcome back spring. We've missed you.

April 4, 2010


I've been at my new job for almost two months now. Two months doesn't seem like that much time, but I feel like a veteran paralegal at this point. I've done more substantive work than I had done at my previous job in the six months leading up to my departure.

I hit the ground running at my new firm. I don't think I left before 5:30 a single day my first week and was getting in a full 30 minutes earlier than I had been at my old job. They were long days. They still are. But they absolutely fly by. I love it when my work days fly by. At my former job, I used to get excited when the clock struck 3 p.m. It meant only two more hours until I could go home. Now, I often look at the clock surprised to see that 3 p.m. is long gone.

This is in no way a complaint. I love being this busy.

The thing that I've found most surprising about my new job is that I'm actually good at it. I say that only because I didn't do a lot at my last job. My tasks were those that I felt anyone could do. I didn't need any sort of special skill or training. I was doing the kind of work I had been doing when I first started. But it was three years after I started. I wasn't using my brain. And I really missed using my brain. So much so, that I often times questioned if it still worked.

That was one of the beautiful surprises of my new job. I jumped in and was able to start working and doing more complicated tasks than I had been in years. Not only was I doing what was asked of me though. I was improving upon the way that my paralegal predecessors had done things. I was contributing and making things better for the attorneys I worked with. I felt appreciated. I felt smart. And I felt needed. There is no greater feeling than I get from doing my job than feeling needed.

Tomorrow though will be a different story. There will be no question that I'm needed. Not long before I left work on Friday afternoon, I learned that as of tomorrow, I'm the only person doing my job. My fellow paralegal won't be returning to work. The most I can do is continue doing the best job I can and hope that I'll live up to my veteran title. Even if it is a title I didn't think I'd have less than two months in.