The fox and the bear

So it happened. My brother, Bill, got married on January 13. I started the morning with A Nightmare on Elm Street while sitting in bed in my room at the Hard Rock hotel overlooking downtown Chicago. Friday the 13th would have been more fitting, though it wouldn't have calmed my nerves anymore.

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Best Man with a camera

Last March, my brother surprised me with a request: that I would be the Best Man at his wedding. He also asked me to be one of the photographers. I know how to take photographs, but I don't know what being a Best Man entails. I 'ought to be preparing for my toast, but I suppose I'll procrastinate and write my thoughts here instead.

Packing for Chicago in January is tricky. The clothes I'm shoving in a suitcase are much thicker than what I would pack for the summer. Plus I need to leave room for a suit! So, my camera gear will have to be compact. I'll be packing the following in two bags:

  • A collapsible disc reflector
  • Travel tripod and light stand
  • Two camera bodies
  • 24, 50 and 80-200 mm lenses
  • A flashgun with wireless transceiver/receiver 
  • Travel gray/white cards
  • Three batteries and SD cards

So I think I'm all set on the photography side of things.

I've photographed a wedding and bar mitzvah, but never from the inside. A behind-the-scenes photoshoot from a member of the wedding party could be an interesting perspective. And when I need to put the camera away to tend to the duties of the best man, I always have a phone. The best camera is the one you have on you, right? Luckily my girlfriend, Candra, will be taking photos during the ceremony.

Fireworks and balloons

I spent the Fourth in Joliet, Illinois, with my dad's side of the family, and watched my two young warmongering cousins have a water balloon fight. Well, sort of. Nolan's soaked clothing was a result of self-infliction, and Chase spent most of the time sucking or squeezing the water out of the balloons. War has changed. They've got a self-tying balloon nozzle that connects to the garden hose. I wish it existed when I was a kid. (Hover over images for captions)

Corn on the horizon

Much like Illinois, Indiana is nothing but straight, flat roads and corn fields. But in-between those fields are small communities, like Kouts, Indiana, a town I visit once or twice a year to see my sister and brother-in-law. And now my niece. Last year, I had my camera and wandered down Main Street, which can be walked in 15 minutes.

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Helen

Several months ago my father told me my sister's pregnant.  And now I have a niece who's introduced me to unclehood. How about that? I hope she'll find me to be awesome. Meet Helen and her first-time grandparents. (Hover over images for captions)

The lost exposures

When I was four years old, my mother would bring me to her college photography class.

  1. Develop the prints for a couple of minutes
  2. place them in the stop bath for 30 seconds to stop the development
  3. submerge the prints in the fixer for five minutes so it’s no longer light sensitive
  4. wash them for a half hour with constant running water

The process is drilled into my head. I'd watch her develop photographs in the darkroom, stare at the images as they blossomed, becoming tangible.

Every family vacation, holiday, gathering, mom was taking pictures, documenting moments. I wanted a camera of my own. I wanted to see the world through a viewfinder too and still do. I want people to see what I see.

I received a Nikon N8008 when I was in high school. Most of the photographs I took with it were terrible, but Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

There are a few photographs I like from those years but the negatives are gone. I’ve started a small series on Instagram titled “The Lost Exposures,” because the prints are all that’s left.

From top left, clockwise:  (1)  "Birthday Balloons," photographed sometime in 2007.  (2)  Contact sheet of "Birthday Balloons."  (3)  "Mirror Girl," photographed in 2007. One of my favorite photos from the best roll of film I developed myself.  (4)  A monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, catches me photographing him.

From top left, clockwise: (1) "Birthday Balloons," photographed sometime in 2007. (2) Contact sheet of "Birthday Balloons." (3) "Mirror Girl," photographed in 2007. One of my favorite photos from the best roll of film I developed myself. (4) A monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, catches me photographing him.