Buying a Camera for the Holidays?

December 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Happy Holidays. In the last few weeks I have been inundated with questions on what camera's to buy a loved one for the holidays. So I thought I would put a blog piece together with some suggestions and amazon links in case there are folks out there who still haven't gotten their answers. Everything in blue should link you to that product on amazon, I also included some picture based links for certain products. 

Let's start with my main gear combo. My main camera body is a Canon 5D Mark III, which I love very much. It has done everything I have ever asked of it and much much more. When working I use it in combination with Canon lenses 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8, when shooting for fun I usually have a nifty fifty attached which is a Canon 50mm 1.8. Now if you are like many reading this blog you many not even know what those numbers stand for. In 24-70 that is the zoom range in millimeters. This is the distance between your camera's sensor, and the point of convergence in the lens. The 2.8 indicates the maximum aperture of your lens, which is how wide it will go, and ultimately how much light it will allow in. When the number is lower, it allows more light in.  Most 18-55mm lenses have a max aperture of 3.5-5.6, which doesn't allow much creativity with shallow depth of field.  Shallow depth of field is when one part of the photo is in sharp focus and other parts are blurry. I definately recommend the 24-70 2.8 for anyone wanting to step up their photo game and willing to invest in a great piece of equipment. It is a great first professional zoom lens. The link below is for the Canon 5d3 with 24-70mm 2.8

Now if you've got a decent amount of money in your budget you can get the newest version of the Canon 5D which is a Mark IV, link below. The link is for the camera body only. 

Now for those of you who are buying cameras for a beginner. I recommend the Canon Rebel series cameras. The most popular version is the T6. Which runs around $375-$400 with the 18-55 kit lens. As much as I am not a fan of the kit lenses it is nice to be able to open your camera out of the box and start shooting with out spending a ton more money.  I would however recommend picking up a Canon 50mm 1.8, so you can start enjoying the creativity and low light aspects of wide open apertures. There is also a newer version The Canon Rebel T7 running about $800.

Now if you want to spend even less you can purchase the Canon T5, which could save you about 40 or 50 dollars. There is also a middle ground between the Rebel series and the 5d series. The Canon 80D $1300 (with kit lens) and the Canon 7D and 7D2 $1200 (body only) cameras. Many of you may be wondering what about NIKON.  Nikon is great also. I used to be an avid Nikon user but made the switch to Canon about 10 years ago and haven't looked back. I teach people how to use Nikons on a regular basis in Photo 101 in a day classes at the Chicago Photography Academy. In my experience the menu layouts in the Canon gears seems to be more intuitive and remain more consistent between different camera models which is one of the reason I prefer Canon. Another thing to think about is the mirrorless cameras. Sony has a few great models out with a decent range in price. I purchased a Sony Mirrorless last year and ended up returning it. I hope this has helped answer some of your camera buying questions. If you should have anymore please comment on this blog post or direct messaged me via email, FB, or twitter. Happy Camera hunting. 


Renato Mariotti

October 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

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

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Pratt Beach Sunrise Shoot Party

September 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


The Amazing Alison Berger @ Holly Hunt

March 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

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! and where in the Chicago area to find her breathtaking work @ Holly Hunt. HollyHuntAlisonBergerHollyHuntAlisonBerger


March 10, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

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.

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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.

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