I recently had the experience to meet and photograph Renato Mariotti an impressive and exploding personality on the national and local Chicago political scenes. Currently with his sight set in the direction of Illinois Attorney General. Seems as if lately you can't turn on the news without seeing his face. As often with photography and politics time is usually the issue. Busy schedules and beautiful daylight are a much tricker combination than you often imagine. After a few emails about scheduling we realized we had only three short 60-90 minute slots in the time before the images were needed. We zeroed it on one date, checked the weather multiple times and decided to put all our eggs in one basket and anticipate the idea of a rain plan in the future if weather should change as it often does in this great city. As the day approached the weather was solid cloud cover which was to remain consistent over a three day radius of our shoot date. Being we didn't have much wiggle time or time for a reshoot I wanted to get a light and staging plan and flow set before the shoot. The morning before I set out for the location. Did several lighting tests and setting shots. Was able to mark and measure more than enough shots in the time we had to work with. Shoot morning I went in feeling confident and ready to love my work. Renato and his crew arrived on site and I was already fully set for shot one. We had a warm welcome and some hand shakes, clarifications on some details and then got right to work as we had no time to loose. Everyone worked together and it flowed like a well oiled machine. All except for the weather. The brightest sun you ever did see rose right up and blew all of my plans across Tobey Prinz Beach. We made a few adjustments and still fit in more than planned which is how I like to end every job. When ever I deliver a batch of images generally only a handful of those images are going to be used and I often don't know which exact ones and not always when or where unfortunately. So when I get the chance to see them work, I enjoy it all the more. Another awesome and fun job in books. I'm only going to share the two photos they selected to use for the website, and I will follow them with my day before test shots to show what we were planning for and what we got. Check out the images and Renato at www.renatomariotti.com.
Last week I had the enlightening experience of photographing a book signing and lecture of the amazingly brilliant and talented Alison Berger at the beautiful Holly Hunt Showroom in the Merchandise Mart. I always learn something new about design and usually run into a few fellow alumni of Harrington College of Design when working for Holly Hunt. Alison was one of those people that have an awesome and unique energy. I liked her immediately. After hearing her lecture I was blown away. She explained many of her pieces and the multilayers of inspiration ranging from space and time, to mathematics and childhood memories of her grandfathers desk lamp. Check her out! http://www.alisonbergerglassworks.com and where in the Chicago area to find her breathtaking work @ Holly Hunt.
On Wednesday Ron Gould and I worked the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner which also happened to be International Women’s Day. The events attendance is always bursting at the seems and this year was no exception; tables of Survivors and their families, many of the states politicians and of course the voice of Bill Kurtis. It was amazing as a political photographer to be in a room with our states biggest hard hitting current and past politicians from both sides who are usually pushing back against each other, united against hate in a Chicago kind of way for our beloved Illinois Holocaust Museum. The awesomeness on stage went from Fritzie Fritzshall (Auschwitz Survivor and Museum President) describing her boxcar memories to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's practically tearful speech about the current climate of fear plaguing so much of our local community to Laura Bush's grace and masterful way of maximizing on her first ladyship to advance women's rights.
The night was a great success. Wow. This is why I became a photographer. To capture history. I didn't always know that. Congratulations to the Humanitarian Award Recipients Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz and E. Scott Santi. Tonight was one of those nights when I feel blessed that I do what I love and finally have worked hard enough to get paid decently doing something some would pay to do. I love you Chicago. I love you Ron. I love you Illinois Holocaust Museum. I love you Mark 3. I love you life. Thank you to everyone who posed for me in photo school or just otherwise let me torture them with my camera and all those who supported me on this uphill journey. Im so glad I risked it all to do something that I love. Last but surely not least a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to our friends at the #IHM, we do truly love you all and are so honored and enjoy working with you.
In honor of last month's Black History Month and because I believe BLACK LIVES MATTER, and the fact that everyone isn't comfortable saying that out loud I want to write a post highlighting some of the amazing Black people who I have been so blessed and honored to photograph. A sentiment I always feel when learning or celebrating Black History is the endurance and triump of the human spirit even in the face of the most disgusting and relentless oppression.
I'm going to start with the lovely Beverly Johnson, because I just finished her memoir a few weeks ago. The Face That Changed It All, which was released on August 25, 2015. Beverly Johnson seems to be most famously know for being the first African American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974. She also has a sizable Filmography. I of course had the privilege to meet and photograph her in October of 2015 at Chicago Ideas Week. While she was on my sweep she found out that her Memoir had just made the Times Top 100 list. She was giddy with excitement so I asked her if she had a copy and would get it out to take a few snaps with. She was happy to oblige. After I photographed her she retreated to the speakers green room which was directly behind my make shift studio set up in what was basically an electrical closet. She wasn't in there long, before she was back out in the photo area sitting at a chair next to my digital tech's desk. Just handling some business with who I assumed was her assistant and doing a few things on her phone and touching up her make up. At first I thought it odd, why is she hanging out out here. Then I realized she was about to go on stage and give a talk which is a little bit out of her element and the place she felt the most comfortable was in the photo pit with the snapping strobes. It was endearing to me. She was a wonderful pleasure to meet and to photograph. A true pro. Check out her book for a good read and insight into the race struggle of the modeling industry and how she helped pave the way to for all of the Models of Color to follow. Her book felt very honest as she recalled the stories of her past in a scramble of modeling, money, love and chaos. Check out her Chicago Ideas Week Talk here https://www.chicagoideas.com/videos/the-face-that-changed-it-all.
That same week I was the photographer for The Chicago Ideas Week Talk RACE IN AMERICA, which clicking on will link you to the talk. DeRay was fun on the sweep. A total ball of energy. After we introduced ourselves we began joking and laughing immediately. When the amazing Assistant Stage Manager Peggy snapped her fingers as a friendly reminder we only had a few minutes DeRay immediately struck his signature pose in his signature blue vest. I asked him what he was wearing under and if he would be willing to pull back a layer and expose that fun, silly side I had noticed within seconds. He was a blast. I enjoyed every second of our interaction, and have excitedly followed his story since. Here is a link to his Wikipedia for more information.
I also got to Photograph Common that week. Who I believe needs no introduction or description. And if you are not familiar with Common check out these links Glory by Common & John Legend for Selma and one of my favorites Common NPR Tiny Desk Concert at the White House. Photographing Common was not as intimate and smooth as the previously mentioned. He showed up a bit behind schedule and with an entourage that completely crowed my makeshift studio. There were about three different reporters interviewing him on my sweep, several people escorting him from his group, what seemed like some other random followers, maybe a few lucky selected high school kids, a video guy with a huge tripod and about three other photographers. As politely as possible I stepped aside and let the interviews go down then eventually had to gently elbow my way through the other photographers to snap only three shots to get my job done, this being the best of the few. He himself was very friendly and gentle seeming and a little softer spoken than I had imagined. Here is a link to Commons Chicago Ideas Week Talk Exploring the Power and Purpose of Art and Education.
Anthony "The Twilite Tone" Khan, who I've photographed on a few occasions. One of the first people to take a phone call on my sweep and be willing to make it part of the shoot. We had some fun. Here is a link to a Bio on him from Downtown Music Publishing and to his CIW talk links.
Amazing Sculptor Garland Martin Taylor. You have got to see and read about his Gun Sculpture which I was lucky enough to see up close in person. Check out one of his Chicago Ideas Week Talks about it A Conversation Piece.
September 2015, I was beyond excited to meet and photograph Condoleezza Rice the first female African-American Secretary of State. She was fascinating with all of her emanating quite strength. I photograph a lot of politics, and even more Republican politics and there is not very many woman and even less black women. This woman's presence wowed me.
In 2014 I had the inspiring experience of hearing Modern Day Hero Antoinette Tuff's story of survival and how she stopped a school shooting. Watch the Chicago Ideas Week video of her story Prepared for a Purpose.
Sean Combs, watch his Chicago Ideas Week Talk here.
In 2013 I got to photograph and hear Terry McMillan the author of "Waiting to Exhale" and several other books. Watch her Chicago Ideas Week Talk Why I Lie for a Living.
Also in 2013 CNN Political Contributor and Political Strategist and Pollster Cornell Belcher watch him participate in Chicago Ideas Week Political Roundtable.
In 2012 the amazing Helene Gayle President & CEO of CARE USA, empowering women and fighting poverty all over the world.
Also in 2012 Stephen Bradberry Chicago native and veteran community organizer and executive director of Alliance Institute. Watch his Chicago Ideas Week talk Your Community is your Responsibility
In 2011 I photographed the Brave Ameena Matthews, Violence Interrupter from CeaseFire. You can catch her in this FRONTLINE episode talking about the movie The Interrupters. Ameena is the daughter of Jeff Fort, one of the city's most infamous gang leaders. Her story is one of profound transformation and a continued motivation and endurance to live and create a better life. Below Ameen is fellow Violence Interrupter Ricardo "Cobe" Williams of CeaseFire and also in the movie The Interrupters.
These are just a small handful of some of the amazing people and stories of color I have been so blessed and honored to hear and experience. Thank you for taking the time to share in the images and stories of these amazing inspirers, civil rights leaders and trail blazers. Thank you for all you have done.