Katie and Garrett are married!

There are a lot of photos here.  I don't regret that.  I'm loving getting back into wedding season, and I'm happy it was with these guys.  The whole day was full of fun, and it's great to photograph with a crew that doesn't take themselves too seriously.  Congrats! 

Also, venue was Potawatomie Conservatories, which was lovely.  

Miranda

I'm discovering that collaboration is the next level for me in creativity. It feels great to be working with people who are bringing their vision to me, and working together to achieve it.  For this shoot, we brought 4 people together who all brought strong artistic visions and decided to see what we could do. I loved the process and I'm happy to recommend everyone listed here.
Model: Miranda Savoie
Stylist: Tania Ballvé
Makeup: Ashley Troxel

Jeremy and Cheryl are married!

I love this family and I'm so glad this was how I started my year off.  A wonderful and crazy crew of kids are now a family, and will surely terrorize dance floors wherever they go.  

The Listening Series

Taking photos of people is delicate work.  

There isn't so much danger for a photographer, but for someone who sits for a photo, (particularly for someone who isn't a professional model) it is a vulnerable experience.  In some ways I've blocked that out of my mind because for a photographer, the job is intense enough without that weight.  Do we have the right light? Is everyone on time? Are my 22 batteries all charged? Do I have the correct modifiers?  Do I know where I'm going, and will my contact be there? Of all these concerns, many times except for the most basic concerns, the comfort of a subject is not high on the priority list.  Even less, my understanding of their story.  

While writing my best of 2016 blog, I stumbled upon a realization as I was writing.  A camera serves as a shield.  In fact I've kept it up at the expense of knowing almost anything about my subjects.  This gets work done, and allows me to make photos, but I'm not sure that it allows me to make portraits.  To me, a portrait is made through a connection.  It can be as simple as putting the camera down and asking questions.  So that's what I did.  I recruited 10 volunteers to meet with, and simply put the camera down.  I planned to ask them 3 questions.  

1. How did you grow up?

2. What is a good memory you have? 

3. What is something you miss?  

After 1 or 2 people, I realized that the first question could simply open the communication by itself.  As it turns out, people generally are happy to tell a story to someone who is actually listening (as I have failed to do so many times), and the stories were wonderful. People are so much more interesting when you are interested.  After a while, I found my camera and took a few simple photos, or photos that i thought they would enjoy, sometimes while they told me a story and that was that. 

I was thinking of a clickbait headline for this project.  "Photographer asks questions, and what he found will change everything!".  That would be a good way to both cheapen and complicate a thing that was neither cheap, nor complicated.   It was a simple exercise, and I learned simple but important things.  We all want to be heard, and we all have much more depth than we are able to show on a regular basis.  It's refreshing to share that depth on occasion, and it's important to share it with the right people.  We need face to face time with people who listen.  That transcends photography. 

Rudy and Michelle are married!

 This wedding had the distinction of having the most ice on every single surface of any wedding I've photographed, but the ceremony was full of warmth.  The hymn sing during the ceremony took me back to childhood as well.  A beautiful wedding in Champaign, IL and a wonderful couple.  Congrats Michelle and Rudy!  I was honored to be a part of it.  

2016: Weddings in review.

2016.  Man, what a year for weddings.  I was able to photograph the most I ever have, survive an entire system switch in the middle from Canon to Nikon, and make some wonderful friends.  There is such an overwhelming number of photos that it's difficult to pick my favorites, so I just went with my gut and grabbed some.  If you trusted me in 2016 to photograph a wedding, i just want to thank you so much.  It's a tremendous thing to be there on a day that means so much, and I am grateful that you picked me to be there. 

2016: a review.

2016.  A time of massive changes, both personally and globally.  Sometimes it feels like everything we love is disappearing, but I still believe in small victories.  This year, I've had less time to pursue personal projects, because I.., 

1. Bought a house and moved in. 
2. Proposed
3. Eloped
4. Helped my new wife move and set up a pottery studio.
5. Changed camera systems entirely from Canon to Nikon in July.
6. Increased commercial photo work. 
7. Changed editing software platforms in December. 
8. A few more things, I'm currently working on :-).  

In the middle of all of this, I have been made increasingly aware of the small undeserved blessings I've been given.  A safe place to sleep, a supportive partner, and people who want to see me succeed and use their reference to help spread the word.  To everyone who shows their support, I am eternally grateful.  

I've compiled a few photos that represented those small victories this year.  There are a lot of portraits, a few architecture photos, and a magazine cover.  In their own way, each photo felt like I was breaking a small amount of new ground.  After the initial rush in a career, the large victories are harder to find, but the small differences are encouragement.  I hope to continue to make the small refinements in 2017 that will make each photo session I offer a more inspiring and productive experience. 

A common thread throughout my creative career is the tension between confrontation and contemplation.  I will always be drawn to a thoughtful artistic statement that doesn't scrub out the shadows.  In my musical career, I've split between aggressive and ambient.  In my photo career I zero in on alone moments, even in a crowd.  I find that I can recognize that moment in myself.   A photographers job is often that of a outsider.  In some ways the camera is a shield.  I can put it down and engage, but raise it again and I become the observer.  A camera in that way can become a peephole through which you view the world.  Even in the middle of the room, the door may be opened or bolted.  

Joy, anger, fear, sadness - these are feeling that shout though the door. In some ways, 2016 was a year of this type of feeling. If you weren't shouting you weren't heard.  If I stopped there as a photographer and only captured the primary shouts of feeling, I could certainly do worse, but there are so many other whispers, so many combinations, so many quiet stories.  For 2017, I want to unbolt the door.  A peephole is a protective device, but it also distorts.  Removed, I may hear clearly that which doesn't shout.  I can tell the quiet stories.   

Amberly and Gabe are married!

I loved shooting at The Morris Estate in Niles, MI for this incredibly heartfelt wedding.  We finished it off at The Brick in South Bend, and of course there is no shortage of photo opportunities there either.  Days like this make me happy to be a photographer.