I was invited to speak to the Chicagoland chapter of the North American Nature Photography Association a few weeks ago. I did a presentation at ProCam in Aurora on the adventurous life of being a farm and agriculture photographer. I shared some of the challenges of things I encounter in the field, and how I deal with them. I also mentioned many of the travel, scheduling, and weather apps I use on the road to help make my life eaier. It was a good opportunity for me to go back through the last few years of farm photography and find images that I haven’t shared with anyone yet. For every farm I visit I take between 1500-2000 images. Last year I visited 16 farms. That’s a mountain of material to sort through. It was nice to look back on it with fresher eyes and see some gems in there I overlooked before.
I’m happy that once again I get to work with Special Olympics and Dunkin’ Donuts. The Maclyn Group put together the marketing pieces and in-store displays for the Cop On A Rooftop events. I took the photos that you see of athlete Erin and Westmont Deputy Chief Brian Gruen. We shoot these on location in an actual Dunkin’ Donuts. Videographer Joe Mastrino is capturing footage of them at the same time, and we need the real background of the store. It was a little tight this time around, and we discovered upon arriving that the tables were all bolted down and couldn’t be moved. But we worked around those issues. The Dunkin’ staff was very helpful, and the editing team at Maclyn did a great job putting it all together.
These images are being used in regional marketing ads for Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law. The conceptual campaign centered around the idea of “a custom-tailored law firm.” Catherine came up with the design and pre-production sketches. The final results are pretty close to her original vision. Catherine also worked with the Knotty Tie Company in Denver to create the unique ties with the company’s logo. Models are through 4 Star Casting in Chicago.
We traveled to Florida to photograph the Miami-Dade Courthouse for the architectural firm that did the repair work on the 1928 high-rise. We took photos from numerous locations, both during the day and at night to highlight the new colored lighting display. While we were in Miami, I got a call about a project in Panama. I had my passport shipped overnight to Miami and then took off the next day. I have always wanted to see Panama. I’m part Panamanian but have never been to the country. Panama City is making a considerable effort to repair the beautiful old structures in Casco Viejo, or the old part of town. Some of the buildings are in bad shape, with parts of them crumbling. Others are just hollow shells with scaffolding holding up the front facades. The buildings that have been restored are now beautiful hotels and businesses. Plus there are many street markets and ladies selling colorful molas and artwork. There is a vibrant new part of Panama City with skyscrapers, condos, and fancy hotels. But the real fun is in exploring the old town. Plus, there isn’t an exchange rate and they use US currency! It makes life a little easier when it comes to negotiating prices in the street markets I did get to venture outside the city into the jungles along the Canal. I saw hummingbirds, heard wild monkeys, and was bitten by a mosquito the size of a dragonfly. I was pretty sure that I had immediately contracted Yellow Fever, Zika, and five other diseases. Luckily I survived to write this blog entry. I’m hoping I get a chance soon to venture back and explore other parts of Panama.
Hannah is a dancer. We’ve worked with her mother, Christine, on numerous photoshoot over the years. Christine is a talented makeup artist and former model. During our downtime and on breaks she would tell us about her daughter the ballerina. We trekked out to Lake Michigan in Indiana for a couple of shoots. One day turned out to be ridiculously windy, which kept us out of the water. But whenever faced with adversity we try to use it to our advantage. Hannah jumped over the waves while the crazy winds whipped her hair in every direction. We also found other ways to take some nice portraits on the beach. On another trip the lake was perfectly still, and we were able to accomplish some lovely sunset images. Once the weather cooled down we tried a session in the studio. I’m sure we’ll be taking more over the next year. Hannah is set to graduate high school early so she can start doing ballet professionally in Chicago. We wish her the best of luck on her dance career!
While I’m usually sharing some of our bigger projects and assignments, sometimes we’re happy when we can help out a smaller business that we really believe in. Many people in our town know that Naper Nuts and Sweets is a great family owned candy store, and one of the more popular businesses in town. But the store also supports the men & women of the armed services that are stationed overseas. They have sent tons of their caramel popcorn to troops all around the world. We worked with Naper Nuts & Sweets to produce some new images for a Naperville-themed popcorn bucket that will be available at the new Hotel Indigo. We also created new images for web usage and social media, including their popular holiday gift baskets that can be ordered online. I have quite a sweet-tooth and I’m sure the amount of candy I’ve purchased from here over the years could fill up a truck. It was nice to finally work with them on a fun project.
This massive farm project is finally coming to an end. I had a great time, and met so many interesting people. The farm families were all very open and kind. I should have started a blog on all the amazing meals I’ve eaten in the tiny little towns from Arkansas to the Dakotas. I still have quite a bit of editing to do. My Canon cameras (especially the 5D MarkIII) have gotten a pretty serious workout, and are probably overdue for a cleaning after being in dusty grain bins and wheat harvesters. My total shot count for this project will be a little over 17,000. Obviously, I can’t share all of those images. But here are some I’ve been working on recently. I hope you enjoy them- This lady was pretty amazing. She’s a great grandmother in North Dakota, and she’s been driving the family’s combine since the mid 50′s. She even rattled off every model she’s ever driven. In order to get this shot I had to wedge myself down in the corner of the cab. It was difficult keeps my knees and long legs out of the shot while using my wide 17-40mm lens. Photography sometimes requires some contortionist abilities.