Category Archives: portraits

Remembering John Connally Too

As the Kennedys and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife got into a limousine fifty years ago today, Connally’s wife said to the President, “…you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you.” A happy, noisy crowd greeted the car at the airport.

Kennedy’s assassination holds a unique space in “public memory” for those of us coming of age in 1963. Not always as well remembered was Governor Connally, sitting in the front seat of the same car severely wounded.

In March of 1977 John Connally visited Wheaton College to speak with students. At the time it seemed to me that it was a pretty small group of students that showed up considering his stature as a witness to such a significant historical event. Maybe history is not important to a lot of 20 year olds.

I took a few photos of Connally speaking in what was then the dining hall at Wheaton. I guess it was just good to see someone who had been so close to Kennedy on that day.

John Connally who was injured during the Kennedy assassination speaks to Wheaton (IL) College students in 1977

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My P.S. on Our Flashes of Hope Shoot


I recently wrote about our shoot for Flashes of Hope. The purpose of these sessions is to create portraits of some of the 12,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. For families of terminally-ill children it is particularly important to preserve through photography the bravery, grace and dignity of their child. This is done using volunteer professional photographers as well as sponsors such as WHCC, the professional lab that donates photographic prints to the families.

Though most Flashes of Hope photo sessions take place in a hospital, we photographed at a picnic hosted by Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. A forest preserve provided a much more relaxed atmosphere for these kids than a hospital setting. It was an afternoon of ice cream instead of IV tubes.

The same day that I photographed 15 children and their families, I read the following in the New York Times: “RIGHT now cancer care is being rationed in the United States.” There is a severe shortage of cancer drugs. In fact, in “Shortchanging Cancer Patients” Ezekiel J. Emanuel reports, “If you are a pediatric oncologist, you know how to cure 70 to 80 percent of patients. But without these drugs you are out of business.” Apparently, the shortages seem to be the results of corporate decisions to cease production because of low profit margins.

This is just ONE thing that these kids and their families face on a daily basis. It’s not hard to see bravery on their faces in the photos.

If Flashes of Hope “changes the way children with cancer see themselves through the gift of photography” as they say on their web site, I think quite possibly they’ve changed the way photographers see themselves as well. If drug manufacturers could see some of these kids there might also be some changes in how they see their mission.

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Season’s Greetings to All


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A-Mazing Garden


My grandson knows how to have fun. Pulling weeds and watering are not on Noah’s fun list. Besides, he’s too young for that sort of thing.

His sense of wonder makes him love to follow the paths between my garden’s rows. They’ve grown together enough to no longer resemble the two strips of lawn they were in spring. To Noah it must look like a wonderland of vines, enormous leaves and exotic vegetation that creates a maze-like path. Dodging tomatoes, prickly squash leaves and shiny peppers he twists around one obstacle after another. He carefully protects himself from threatening tendrils with an out-thrust elbow. Then he reverses it or decides to make the return trip down the next strip.

I don’t know what type of temperament turns a weedy, overgrown garden into a playground but I like Noah’s outlook on life.

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Picked Ten Minutes Ago

These might be good with olive oil & garlic… maybe on the grill – Do you have any recipes?


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Black Eyed Peas

With the Black Eyed Peas’ nomination for a Grammy award this evening it reminded me of a brief meeting with them a few years ago.

Because of my relationship with Ravinia Festival, I was asked by ABC/Disney to photograph two tapings of the Live With Regis and Kelly Show. The show was going to be shot at Ravinia’s pavillion. Although most guests were from Chicago, the Black Eyed Peas were the musical guests for the show.

My job was to document the taping. A few of the photos can be seen here but a more complete gallery can be found on our Facebook Fan page.

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa

Black Eyed Peas with Regis and Kelly

Gary Sinise with Regis and Kelly

Jessica Biel with Regis and Kelly

Scotty Pippen shoots a basket for Regis and Kelly

WGN's Dean Richards interviews Regis & Kelly between tapings at Ravinia Festival.

Kelly shows her improvisational skills with Second City group.

Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert discuss Chicago's role in film with Regis and Kelly.

Kelly and Regis answer questions from the audience after two tapings.


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My friend, Mitzi continues a generations-old tradition of having her grandchildren photographed when they reach the age of three. Each photo includes the same chair which is as old as the tradition. The wonderful thing about this for me is that none of the children ever pose for me. They simply present themselves to the camera.

The goal is a single photo with very narrow guidelines. It requires a vertical photo of a child relating to a specific chair and shot against a dark, neutral background. This simplicity allowed me to concentrate on capturing Brielle’s movements, all of which were self directed.

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The Mojo Man

When I was young I lived in a small town in the deep south. Occasionally my father would walk me down the long, winding path to a back-woods shack that served as the area’s juke joint. As I watched my father dance and drink his troubles away with his friends, it must have presented a funny picture to anyone that cared to look – a four-year-old white boy sitting in the corner watching his dad and a room full of black men & women dancing to a blues band. This may not exactly be Norman Rockwell’s picture of the early 1950’s, but it was my picture.

The reality of this is that I remember very little of it. Although my mother filled in the details many years later, my memories of those occasions were of the music itself.

Even to a four-year old the blues was as seductive as it was sad. In spite of its sad name this predictable and stylized American music form remains for me a source of optimism. I think this is its seduction. Its only purpose is to make people feel good by creating courage from helplessness.

In 1976 – more than twenty years after my juke joint experiences – I revisited the blues as I photographed Muddy Waters at one of his last concerts. He, Pinetop Perkins – currently the oldest performing bluesman at 96 – and their band at the time held a concert in a small park in Water’s hometown of Westmont, Illinois.

Although “The Mojo Man” needed the help of fans and friends to get off the stage after the concert, his voice was strong and clear as he sang most of the songs that made him an inspiration to not only several generations of rock & roll performers, but to a young photographer.


Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters with his band

Muddy Waters and his band

Pinetop Perkins

Westmont, IL crowd enjoying Muddy Waters and his band

The Mojo Man, Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters' hand and guitar

Muddy Waters

Crowd enjoying Muddy Waters in Westmont, IL

Getting help from friends and fans after Muddy Waters concert

Muddy Waters talks with friends and fans after concert

Holiday Inn

Pinetop Perkins

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A Hindu Wedding

For 30 years wedding photography was never a part of my photo business. I managed to avoid it not because I disliked brides and grooms but because of the way they usually liked their weddings photographed. The photographic style for many years could only be described as cheesy.

Couples are now asking for a very nice blend of story telling and portraiture. Having discovered that my style of shooting for my corporate clients was exactly that, it made sense for brides and grooms to include me in their search for a wedding photographer.

The photos below of a Hindu wedding I photographed this year showed me the significance of hands as ceremonial instruments. They very nicely helped to tell the story of this couple’s life and and their family’s commitment to them.

This is a very good time for couples getting married in 2010 to find a photographer. Dates are filling but many are still available. A gallery of my wedding photography can be seen here and an informational PDF may be downloaded which includes pricing for photography, prints and coffee-table books.


hands in Hindu wedding ceremony

hands in Hindu wedding ceremony

the bride's sister

the bride's sister



priest's hands_DSC3252_DSC3309

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You and Me

Noah will be 13 months old tomorrow. The photo below was taken when he was three days old – literally a lifetime ago. I’ve pretty much filled up a hard drive with photos of him I’ve taken over those months.

I like this one because it shows not only the vulnerability of the son but of the father as well. Nose-to-nose is a posture that says “you and me.” Whether it’s football teams facing each other, a couple about to kiss, or a father cradling his son’s head, no one else matters at this moment.


You and Me

You and Me

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